BraceFace: S1, E1 “Brace Yourself”

I meant to have this review up sooner, but procrastination and things just got in the way. I wrote this entire review in one sitting so I don’t think it’s the best. This is my first time reviewing a show so cut me some slack. I realized that summarizing the scenes and giving my thoughts is harder than I thought, but anyways here’s my little intro.

Braceface was a show I enjoyed watching as a kid. When I hear people in my age group reminisce about their favorite childhood shows, this one (and many others that I plan on reviewing) doesn’t get its props. I never saw the show in its entirety growing up because Disney Channel and ABC Family played the first season to death, but I do have faint memories of the second season airing on ABC Family. I never saw the third and final season. When I got older (early-mid teens), I found the entire show online and watched it so I do know how everything plays out. This review and future ones will contain spoilers. Now, I’m watching this show in its entirety with my commentary and a different mindset than I had when I watched it before. I enjoyed the show growing up, but I’m not going to let nostalgia blind me into thinking it was the best show ever (hence the purpose of this blog). Alright, enough rambling let’s get started.

The episode starts off with our main character, Sharon Spitz narrating about how her life had gone from good, to better, to best, and to worst. We get a view of her middle school cafeteria and all of the students’ cell phones ring at the same time and everyone answers “Yeah?” in unison. How are these kids allowed to have cell phones in school? Especially out in the open like that?  Who’s watching the students at lunch? When I was in school, we couldn’t bring cell phones to school. We brought them anyway, but at least we were discreet about it. And we had someone of authority watching us during lunch. Finally, we get a look at Sharon at lunch with her two best friends, Maria and Connor who are talking about the upcoming dance. Connor isn’t too stoked about the dance since he can’t dance. Sharon is waiting for Alden Jones to ask her out. Maria, who tells it like it is, tells Sharon that she should ask Alden to the dance instead of waiting for him to ask her. We’ve seen cliché so many times: the girl waiting for the guy to ask her out. So, it’s good that Maria tells Sharon that she should break that annoying cycle. We hear a girl laughing and we are introduced to Nina Harper, Sharon’s rival. They used to be best friends, until Nina discovered that someone ripped off all of her dolls’ heads and blamed Sharon for it. Sharon didn’t do it and Nina has held that grudge against her ever since. Seriously? You’re in middle school and you’re still butt hurt about something that happened when you were in like second grade? In addition to that, Nina was quick to blame Sharon and didn’t think about someone else who may have done it. Granted, her brain probably hadn’t developed enough yet to take it into consideration but she’s older now and her brain is developed enough to consider it now.

And walking into the cafeteria is Alden Jones *inserts dreamy heartthrob music*. Nina sees Alden walking in and like Sharon, is hoping that Alden will ask her to the dance. She asks one of her friends to hand her her lip gloss so she’ll look all pretty for Alden. She says “Hi” to Alden as he passes by and ignores her while he walks to where Sharon and her friends are sitting. We hear Sharon planning her future with Alden as she contemplates over the names Sharon Spitz-Jones or Dr. Sharon and Dr. Alden Jones. In the background, Alden is near the table and Maria sees Alden and starts snickering. Alden walks up to Sharon and asks her if he could join her. She nervously nods her head and he sits down. Maria continues to snicker while Alden uses the decorations for the dance as an excuse to talk about the dance. I have to say I really like how shy and nervous Alden looks when he’s talking to Sharon. It’s adorable. You can see that he really likes her. He asks her out to the dance and of course, Sharon says yes (Actually, she awkwardly nods her head because she’s too shy to say anything to him).

We get a transition to Sharon’s house when she comes home screaming her head off. She runs upstairs to her room, jumps on her bed, and starts dancing until she falls off of the bed. Sharon’s mom comes into the room and tells her daughter some news that will make life a living hell: she’s getting braces. And of course Sharon is horrified by the news. The show is reinforcing the idea that wearing braces means you’re a nerd or a freak. It’s taking me back to when I was around Sharon’s age and my mom wanted me to get braces. Of course, I didn’t want them because it was already bad enough I was bullied for being a petite, quiet, glasses-wearing honors student. Braces would just make everything worse. Also, I really didn’t need braces either. Fortunately, I never got them.

The next scene shows the outside of the orthodontist with a thunderstorm taking place. You know the writers have to make Sharon getting braces so dramatic. They continue layering it on by having Sharon sit next to kids who already have braces and they look scared shitless. This is like something out of a scary movie (Can’t think of a name) the way they show the orthodontist apply the braces on Sharon. When he’s finished, he lets Sharon see the braces and of course she’s not happy. And once again the writers continue to scare their viewers about braces by the orthodontist telling Sharon happily “Just wait until you get the headgear!”

We’re introduced to Sharon’s older brother, Adam who had a growth spurt (which is why he looks so big) and he teases Sharon about her braces. Sharon shuts the door in his face and whines about how she can’t go out with Alden with braces. You know how teenagers are about their looks. Sharon falls asleep (I guess?) and hears weird noises. Apparently, her braces can pick up telephone signals as she can hear Adam on the phone with one of his friends. She runs downstairs and tells her mom, but her mom just gives her some “Free your mind” bullshit.

The next day at school Connor tells Maria that he’s decided to go the dance after all after having a nightmare that he was old like twenty and never been to a school dance. Do these thirteen year olds really believe that twenty is old? I didn’t even think that twenty was old when I was their age. Hell, I couldn’t wait to get to that age. And what’s wrong with someone who has never gone to a school dance? I didn’t go to any of my school dances (Technically, I did go to school dances, but I don’t count those since they were held during school hours and it would get you out of class. Trust me sitting in a classroom for two hours with nothing to do until school ends is boring as hell. You’re better off going to the dance) and I turned out okay. So, Connor begs Maria to teach him a few dances and she agrees. She tries to teach him a dance move, but he’s not even slightly doing what she’s showing him and then he trips on his tissue box and hits the floor. Sharon walks up to her friends depressed as hell. They wonder why she’s so sad and she shows them her braces. They’re shocked and Connor is like too bad today’s Picture’s Day. Then Sharon’s braces unlocks the lock on a locker and the locker slams in her face, which causes her friends to look at her like she’s crazy and then they share a look of concern.

Sharon’s in the restroom and Nina walks in and says hi to her. I find it really odd that Nina said hi to Sharon. I find it even weird that she asked Sharon what was wrong. Maybe she’s trying to be fake nice to Sharon. Nina notices that Sharon has braces and damn near creams herself. Nina takes this opportunity to brag about how lucky she is and of course she has to ask if Alden has seen them. Sharon tells her that he hasn’t and why does she care. Nina then tells Sharon that guys are picky and she “hopes” that he’ll still want to go to the dance with her. She walks out of the bathroom and Sharon has a look of concern on her face.  When Sharon leaves the restroom, she bumps into Alden. No, seriously she literally bumps into him. I kid you not. He tries to make small talk with her, but she’s not saying anything to him. She’s just nods her head like earlier and tries to talk with her mouth close. You can see on his face that he thinks she’s acting a little weird. Sharon is up next to have her picture taken and she refuses to smile. The photographer is trying to convince Sharon to smile with her teeth showing and he resorts to talking to her like she’s a baby and bringing out a sock puppet (You can hear some kids laughing in the background). Sharon finally smiles and her braces cause the camera to break. Sharon runs out of the gym crying and Nina dubs Sharon the nickname “Braceface” (hence the show).

Sharon goes to Dr. Hertz (I can’t believe I missed his name earlier. That’s clever that they gave that name to the orthodontist, now kids and teens everywhere can fear the dentist) and tells him about the weird experiences she’s had with the braces. Like Sharon’s mom, he doesn’t believe her and he hints that she should see a therapist. Connor is still attempting to learn how to dance and Maria doesn’t think this is going to help as she sees it’s going to make things worse. He grabs Maria and starts dancing with her. His dancing has slightly improved, but has to stop because Connor is allergic to every piece of fabric.

Meanwhile, at Nina’s house, she’s plotting (typical thing antagonists do) to get Alden. We’re not aware what’s on the papers that Nina is making copies of, but we can guess it’s an attempt to humiliate Sharon. And….it’s true. The next day there’s a poster of Sharon on the bulletin board with the caption “Braceface Breaks Camera”. Maria threatens some kid with braces who claims that Sharon is giving people with braces a bad name and the kid runs off scared. Maria reassures Sharon that they’ll find out who did this (even though it’s pretty obvious who it is). In English class, Maria gets called on by the teacher to read her Emily Dickinson poem out loud (Don’t you just hate teachers who call on you?). Sharon yawns and here goes her braces acting up again. She opens her mouth and she can hear a phone conversation between Nina and Alden. I know I mentioned it before, but I’m just baffled that these kids are talking on their cell phones at school. I suppose this was before schools implemented the “no cell phones at school” policy. Everyone in the classroom can hear the conversation and looks at Sharon like she’s crazy. Sharon goes by the window in the back of the classroom to eavesdrop on their conversation. Nina asks Alden if he knows that Sharon has braces, which he says no to. Nina exaggerates that Sharon is in a lot of pain and that she can’t go to the dance with him. She continues to lie and says that Sharon asked Nina to take her place and “it’s the way she wants it”. A teacher walks by and bangs her ruler on Nina’s desk to get off the phone, but Nina tells her off and the teacher walks away looking frightened. Are you serious? I don’t know any teacher that will sit back and allow a student to talk to them like that. Alden calls bullshit on this and suggests that he talks to Sharon about it, but Nina lies and says that Sharon has scabs and can’t talk. Furious, Sharon yells out “Scabs?!” and once again causes the class to look at her crazy. Tsk. Tsk. Oh, Sharon why do you do this to yourself? Sharon runs out of the classroom and nosy classmates are peaking out of the door. She runs to the classroom Alden is in and overhears him saying that he doesn’t want to go with “her” and that “she’s” a nightmare. Sharon believes he’s talking about her and walks away. The “she” Alden was referring to was Nina. If only Sharon continued to listen….SMH.

Sharon is in the restroom (cause you know that’s where everyone runs to when they’re upset) and Maria asks Sharon what is hell is wrong with her. Sharon tells her that her braces are making her do stupid things and Nina is trying to take Alden from her. Maria reassures Sharon that Nina is always up to something, everyone’s wearing braces, and Alden likes her. After school, Sharon decides to call Alden to set the record straight but Sharon’s braces clearly don’t like her and messes up the reception. Alden decides to hang up and Sharon is under the impression that he doesn’t like her. I really want to smack some sense into Sharon. She could have tried calling him again, but you know Sharon decides not to follow logic. She calls Maria and tells her what happened. Sharon doesn’t want to go to the dance and Maria guilt-trips Sharon and Sharon says she’ll think about it. She then calls Connor, but he’s in the mirror practicing his dance moves with the music turned up loud so he can’t hear the phone ringing. Sharon leaves a message and decides to go with Connor to the dance.

Sharon asks Connor if he’s taken all of the precautions for his allergies. Maria decides to show up despite her “not doing dances”. They walk in and Sharon is shocked (Idk why she is) to see Nina dancing with Alden. Connor grabs Sharon and they start dancing and everyone notices them and crowds around them. Alden sees something going on behind them, but Nina assures him it’s just some “geeks trying to dance”. Later on, Nina’s friend from earlier goes on stage to announce this year’s Disco King and Queen of the dance. The queen, of course, is Nina. The Disco King is….Connor McKenzie. Did it come as a shock to you? Well, it shouldn’t.  While they “dance”, Sharon uses this opportunity to find Alden and Nina sees Alden and Sharon talking and I’m not sure what type of super powers Nina has, but she gets off the stage and grabs Alden away from Sharon with the quickness. Pissed off, Sharon finally uses her braces for something good and uses their brightness to hit the disco ball, which then hits Nina (ruins her hair) and everyone laughs. Ah, too bad it didn’t happen and it was just Sharon’s imagination. Sharon comes back and narrates again and she’s not sure what’s going on with these braces. It could be things changing; it could be some astrological thing, or puberty (which Sharon grosses out about).

Overall, I think this was a good pilot episode. The introduction of the characters were nice and you could tell what type of person they were. I like how Alden likes Sharon and not Nina. I don’t know if it’s me, but with these types of TV shows “the guy” is usually dating the popular girl we’re supposed to hate or is unaware how evil she is. Alden sees through Nina’s bullshit and I appreciate that. I just hate that he’s too nice to tell her off.  My gripes with this episode is that Sharon didn’t think to call Alden again after her braces messed up the reception. Granted, she was probably unaware that it was her braces’ doing. A couple of other issues I had with this episode are just small things like the cell phones in school and Connor thinking that twenty is old.

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About rosecoloredglassesreviewer

Just a 20-something year old who loves writing and critiquing 90s/early-2000s TV shows. NOTE: I don't hate the shows I review. I enjoyed them as a child and I still enjoy them as an adult. My issue is with people who are blinded by nostalgia and believe that the shows they grew up are the best of all time and who believe today's shows suck.
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