At times it feels like Dare Me really, really wants to be the Euphoria of cheerleading dramas (see: the neon-drenched cinematography, and Tumblr-like blog soliloquies), when really it's more like You because of the illogical turns it takes -- but that's a good thing! You might not be a "good" show in the way a prestige drama might be, but it's fun and fast paced. Similarly, a lot of crazy shit happens in both the plot and the details of Dare Me. Episodes often open with cryptic shots of blood suspended in the atmosphere or creepy clips of loose teeth to hint at what's about to come. These clues turn this cheerleading story into an addictive crime drama: You want to know what it all means and what happens next, which Dare Me delivers with a plot that takes increasingly intense turns over the course of its first season.
There's obviously flaws to this overindulgent drama, like how aggressively in-your-face it likes to chant "Gen-Z is WILD!" and how it takes itself too seriously. At times, the writing makes it unclear whether the series itself believes the unhealthy claims of its characters, like when their voiceovers drone on about the lengths you should go for a friend or when to know to stop engaging in destructive behavior. In spite of its own confusion and hyperbole, the series as a whole still goes through lengths to examine the toxicities that can bubble up in friendships between young women. Even basing it around cheerleading, a sport with primarily female participants and built on hierarchies, Dare Me looks at how damaging unevenness in relationships can be by zeroing in on three characters brought together over scandal.
Dare Me's twisted story ultimately mirrors the tenuousness of the cheerleading pyramid itself: When one girl loses her balance, everything comes crashing down. It's an often outlandish journey to get to its big "Holy shit!" ending, but Dare Me is the sort of teen drama that runs with that insanity and goes home with the gold because of it. Just as the cheerleaders on the series can become addicted to making it as a "top girl," you'll get addicted to this brief, deranged binge.