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TV Series Review

The world of competitive gymnastics is a soap opera, it would seem, where a floor exercise can spawn unrequited love, and a sport based on flexibility can inspire rigid obstinacy.

Three seasons in, instead of teens seeking help and advice from their parents (or not), most are calling their own shots with impunity. Gone is Emily, the young upstart outsider (and original star of the show), after both she and the actress who played her got pregnant. Taking her place is Kelly, a long-time rival of Emily's pals Payson and Kaylie. And speaking of Payson, even after breaking her back and taking hits for crushing on her one-time coach, she's still gunning hard for the national team. Former bad girl Lauren is slowly reforming her ways. And Kaylie, after struggling with anorexia for much of the show's run, seems to have at least some of her issues under control. For the moment.

Not that there aren't loads of youthful dramas still swirling. These girls are either the best of friends or the worst of enemies or both simultaneously. They go six rounds with the guys in their lives. Lauren's sick. Payson's still hounded by the scandalous picture of her smooching her coach. And, really, all of them are haunted by past mistakes—one way in which Make It or Break It serves up a good reminder to its youthful audience that thoughtless acts today can have heavy repercussions tomorrow.

I should note here that Make It or Break It is one of the nicer programs on ABC Family. In spite of all the cattiness we see, these girls—women—do seem to care about one another. And most are trying, more and more frequently, to do the right thing. Character development? Some of them have been working pretty hard at developing one.

On the tumble side of the things, there's a smattering of coarse language. Revealing outfits show up both on and off the mats. We see girls behave badly and still make quite a few lousy choices. And if the show had its way, audiences would be exposed to even more problematic content. In Season 2, it introduced a bisexual male character—only to have him whisked away because the actor landed a part in ABC's hit Revenge.

In similar territory is the issue of Emily's departing storyline. "It occurred to me that there is no show that could do an abortion story in the same way that we could, because in virtually any other show, you can have the baby and then go back to college," creator Holly Sorensen told slate.com. "You can have the baby and accept the scholarship. But you can't have the baby and then go to the Olympics. … The truth is one costs the other. If the goal of the show is to make the Olympics, that dream is over."

In the end, the word "abortion" was never mentioned onscreen, but Emily's coach did try to pressure her into one. The good news? She does indeed wind up sacrificing her dream for her baby, leaving the team and going to live with her godmother.

So it seems that Make It or Break It, just like its characters, is trying to do the right thing. But life in the gymnastics gym is always a balancing act—literally and figuratively. And this show teeters right along with its characters.

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Episode Reviews

MakeItorBreakIt: 4-9-2012
MakeItorBreakIt: 8-24-2010
MakeItorBreakIt: 1-11-2010

Credits

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Author

Cast

Ayla Kell as Payson Keeler; Cassie Scerbo as Lauren Tanner; Josie Loren as Kaylie Cruz; Nicole Gale Anderson as Kelly Parker; Dondre Whitfield as Coach McIntire; Peri Gilpin as Kim Keeler; Candace Cameron Bure as Summer Van Horne

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ABC Family

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On Video

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Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay Meredith Whitmore

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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