TV, 2005, 3.5 stars
Producer: Johnny Capps
There was a moment in the third episode of Sugar Rush I really started to bond with Kim (Olivia Hallinan), the main character who is obsessed with Sugar, her best friend. Convinced she either has to shag Sugar or explode, Kim contemplates slipping something in Sugar's drink and having sex with her while she's unconscious. In Kim's own words, "Since when was date rape a legitimate form of seduction?"
Well, never obviously, but thus are the powers of reasoning of a hormone-ridden fifteen year old girl. It was impossible not to empathise. That first crush on a best friend that made us think we would die if we never got to touch her? That never-ending feeling of horniess coupled with inadequacy?
Personally I thought Kim's choice of relief, an electric toothbrush, seemed like a rather painful sounding option. But, let's get serious for a moment. This is a British TV show about a teenage girl who is in love with her female best friend. Kim doesn't for a second question that she's queer. It isn't her sexuality that's the problem, it's how to make the utterly self-absorbed, slutty Sugar notice her. Plus, in the beginning it's a downright giggle fest. I'd be impressed, if I weren't busy being so damned jealous.
Yes, you heard me, jealous! After all, I spent all my teenage years wondering if there was even a word for who and what I was, and today's teenagers get cool, sexy shows like Sugar Rush and South of Nowhere? While I don't think Sugar Rush is quite as objectively good as season one of South of Nowhere, it isn't half as earnest and might suit teenagers who prefer a few more laughs with their angst. No matter what, it's still more than many of us could have dreamed of having, just 10-15 years ago. Yes, kids today do actually have it all. The good thing is, regardless of what age you are, you can still watch shows like this and get a kick out of it.
Kim gets into all kinds of scrapes, and devises a whole bunch of devious plots, in her war to win Sugar over. Meanwhile, Kim's parents are going through a relationship breakdown after Kim's mother has an affair with the decorator. Kim's little brother thinks he's an alien and spendsepisodes painted blue all over or wearing a goldfish bowl on his head. Sugar is pretty much the town bike - even at fifteen. Almost all the guys in Brighton have had a ride. She even gets crabs to show for it. But Kim keeps ploughing on with one goal in mind, to lose her virginity to the girl of her dreams.
The show is narrated by Kim, in the style of a lesbian Adrian Mole. All the classic signs of the British teen are present. Desperate crush - check. Spotty skin - check. Plaid school uniforms - check. Oddly gawky-yet-compassionate heroine - check. Slightly tragic - check. The language might be a bit of a head-tickler for Americans. I'm pretty used to the fierce, British vernacular and even I found myself rewinding a few times for context, but you do get used to it.
On top of the overall cool quirkiness of the show is the rocking soundtrack. Sugar Rush uses the classic Blondie hit "One Way or Another" as a theme song. In the first episode as this tune fades, the show kicks into The Faders' "No Sleep Tonight", a song already used in the equally quirky Veronica Mars. The key to a good soundtrack is like choosing the right accessories for the perfect outfit - its has to accentuate the show without overpowering it, and give the whole package that extra edge.
I'm not going to give away if the girl gets the girl. The conclusion feels just right after the buildup we get, and after the fun and frivolity of the season's first half we get to see the darker side of teenage obsession as we're led towards the end. Kim can't stay naive and virginal forever, and this rite of passage is a rollercoaster of pleasure and pain. On the way there are some near-perfect moments. The acting is great and the writing evocative. Sugar Rush sustains its premise right through to the end without losing any interest, and has introduced a cast of characters I'll probably revisit often, just for the pure joy of it.
Note: Unless you boought the DVDs years ago, you’ll seriously struggle to find this now.