When it was first reported that Nick Cannon was developing a K-pop-inspired show for Nickelodeon, K-pop fans were incensed. They cringed at the idea and were not looking forward to seeing their precious K-pop somehow be misrepresented, trivialized or blasphemed to American audiences. (
As if K-pop doesn’t do a good job of that on its own.)
And again, this was before a single frame had been filmed.
The faux outrage only grew when the first clips appeared as the actual premiere date drew close.
This is pretty much another example of people needing to learn to actually wait to see something before judging it. But after actually seeing it, I can say that K-pop fans have nothing to be worried about. (They didn’t have anything to be worried about in the first place anyway.)
Make It Pop tells the story of three roommates (Megan Lee as Sun Hi, Louriza Tronco as Jodi and Erika Tham as Corki) at a boarding school who will form a pop band.
At the very least, is a pretty typical kind of show you’d see on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel geared towards kids and pre-teens. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s always great if something can reach a wider audience outside of the target demographic.
Music-infused stories and the search for fame and stardom have become a common theme on the two family networks in recent years. And Make It Pop easily fits into that mold.
But at its best and most promisign, Make It Pop has the potential to be a legitimately good, fun series.
For Nickelodeon, it helps fill a hole left by the departure of shows like Big Time Rush and Victorious. With their live-action line-up filled with more situational comedies, Make It Pop gets them back in the pop music game.
And so far, the first two songs performed in-show, “Now I Am Here” and “Spotlightz,” are solid bubblegum pop and right on par with any of the songs from other current music-themed kids series.
Maybe the most commendable part of the series is its three young leads who are all of Asian descent. It’s hard to want to root against a show that features three Asian-American lead stars.
That’s also one reason I think the show can do much better with the material given to them.
Megan Lee’s Sun Hi is the happy diva of the group who loves the spotlight. Louriza Tronco’s Jodi is the feisty fashionista. And Erika Tham’s Corki is the studious honor roll student. Dale Whibley rounds out the main cast as the DJ, Caleb who will eventually provide the “sick beats” for the group’s songs.
Fine basic characterizations. And it’s hard to tell from just one half-hour episode, but one only hopes that we get to learn more about them and in a less shallow way over the 20 episodes. They’ll have plenty of time for that plus all the usual high school antics as well.
But the biggest aspect that should be fixed if they are still currently filming the 20 episodes or if they get a 2nd season is to tone down the over-the-top exaggerations, especially for Sun Hi. While the exaggerated characterizations and penchant for slapstick, physical comedy are staples for contemporary kids shows, Make It Pop will need to find a way to tone that all down.
Even more than story, for a show like this and being rolled out like it is, the characters need to be the strongest part. They’ll have to be charming and easily likeable more than annoying or over the top. You want the kids to quickly connect to them and want to come back every day to watch as well as eventually buy their music.
There are times in the first episode when Sun Hi is a little too much to handle. Which is disappointing since Megan Lee herself is incredibly charming and likeable in real life.
Even with the could-be-better material in the first episode, it is evident that the lead stars have great talent. It’s only a matter of being given material worthy of that. And there’s definitely potential for that here.
Nickelodeon has found success with their previous series rolled out in the daily telenovela/soap-style format, House of Anubis and Every Witch Way. Both have seen several seasons.
With a refreshing cast and guilt-free bubblegum pop music, if Make It Pop can tone down the unneeded hysterics, but still keep that bright, happy vibe, then the show can find success.
And notice I didn’t even mention K-pop other than in the initial introduction about the pressed fans. The show itself doesn’t ever mention K-pop either.