Thursday, March 8, 2018

Youth & Consequences 1x01 Review: “The Hanging Chadwick Part 1” (Secrets, Lies, and Alliances) [Contributor: Alisa Williams]

“The Hanging Chadwick Part 1” 
Original Airdate: March 7, 2018

If you haven’t heard of Anna Akana, you’re seriously missing out. She’s a hilarious YouTube sensation with over two million subscribers who regularly offers life advice on her channel. She’s also written, directed, and/or starred in numerous shows and movies. She basically just kicks butt at everything, and her latest show Youth & Consequences is no exception. The first season’s now available on YouTube Red and I’m super excited to be reviewing it here. Let’s discuss episode one, shall we?

Y&C is a high school comedy-drama and Anna stars as the main character, Farrah Cutney. She’s the queen bee of Central Rochester High School, wielding way more power than any real-life high schooler could ever hope to achieve. And she uses that power for (mostly) good.

The series premiere starts with a bang when the guidance counselor, Mr. Chadwick, is found dead in his office after hanging himself. Despite Principal Crowher (played by Marcia Cross) trying to keep the details under wraps, the students soon know all about it thanks to a Gossip Girl-esque anonymous blog called the Crotch (derived from the name of the school). The Crotch has existed for over a decade, dutifully passed down to a new anonymous student each time the old one graduates.

Only Farrah knows the blog is currently run by Principal Crowher’s son, Colin. This makes Farrah and Colin the most powerful students at the school and means an alliance based not so much on trust, but rather on the mutually assured destruction that would occur if either betrayed the other.

Despite the tragedy of Mr. Chadwick’s apparent suicide, school politics are still in full swing. Two students — Hope Wells and Ilo Hampton — are vying for student council president and both know they need Farrah’s endorsement if they’re going to win. Both approach Farrah, but she’s not giving her vote out for free. She offers both Hope and Ilo the same deal: if they’ll run on a platform that includes turning Mr. Chadwick’s private bathroom into a private bathroom for handicapped students, then she’ll endorse them. The school isn’t replacing Chadwick and there was a budget surplus last year, so whoever becomes the student council president could totally make this happen.

Hope is dubious and wants to know what’s in it for Farrah (who is insistent she just wants the handicapped students to have a private bathroom all their own). But Hope says no. There are only two handicapped students in the school, and she’s already promised the bathroom to the band — which is over 20 votes in her favor. In her indignant response to Farrah, Hope uses some pretty derogatory language to describe the various student groups in the school, both those who already have her vote and those that don’t. Farrah, of course, secretly records the whole conversation to be used when the time is right. 

Meanwhile, Farrah’s best friend Sarah Hurley (who goes by Hurley, so the Sarah-Farrah rhyming doesn’t happen) has been pushing hard for Farrah to endorse Ilo Hampton. Ilo and Hurley have a secret relationship going, that of course Farrah knows about, though neither she nor Hurley know why it’s being kept secret.

After school — while Ilo and Hurley are hooking up — Farrah makes a visit to the Crotch himself, Colin. Colin’s just posted about Hope organizing a candlelight vigil in honor of Mr. Chadwick, and Farrah’s not happy that this could swing the vote in Hope’s undeserving favor.

She offers to give Colin the dirt she has on Hope if her conversation with Ilo tomorrow goes the way she wants. But the student council election is the least of Colin’s interests right now. He has bigger news to share. Colin and Farrah have a “Chamber of Trust” solution to making sure neither one can record the conversation when they exchange secrets: they hop in the shower together. Naturally.
The Chamber of Trust-hlevel secret is that Mr. Chadwick was prone to auto-erotic asphyxiation and his death, though self-inflicted, was most likely accidental. So far no one knows, and it’s not something for the Crotch’s audience. At least not yet. Chadwick had a family and it would devastate them to learn of the secret habit that got him killed. So the information is staying between Colin and Farrah for now.

The next day at school, Farrah holds her meeting with Ilo and offers him the same deal she did Hope: turning Chadwick’s bathroom into a private handicap one. Ilo, while just as dubious as Hope, agrees to the terms and manages not to insult half the student body in the process. Things are definitely starting to swing in Ilo’s favor.

Both Hope and Ilo have been allotted time to speak at the candlelight vigil that night, which gives Farrah the perfect opportunity to throw her destroying Hope plan into gear. As Hope leads the school in the vigil, all of the sudden her bigoted, racist remarks from her conversation with Farrah start playing over the audio system for all to hear, courtesy of the Crotch. Her chances of winning the election have dropped to zero.

As Colin and Farrah discuss their success at taking down Hope, the conversation turns back to Chadwick and the stuff he was into. Farrah speculates he must have been into some other weird stuff, too. Colin thinks he probably kept his kinky ways in the school, far away from his wife and kids. That leads Farrah to the idea they should search his office. Sure enough, she finds a camera hidden in the stuffed animal mascot sitting on Chadwick’s bookcase. Was he secretly filming students in his office? She grabs the camera and his laptop and they head out.

They don’t make it very far down the hallway before they hear a couple students getting hot and heavy in an empty classroom. Sneaking up they discover Ilo making out with Stacey Moorehead, who just happens to be Farrah’s former best friend turned arch-nemesis. So this is why Ilo’s been keeping his relationship with Hurley under wraps. Colin snaps a photo of the entwined duo for the Crotch, while Farrah goes into damage control. She may want that handicap bathroom, but not enough to let Ilo win now that she knows he’s two-timing her best friend with her arch-nemesis.

She needs a new candidate to endorse, and she needs one now. With Colin in tow, she makes her way to the school bulletin board where she vaguely remembers seeing a poster for a bake sale to support some noble cause. She finds the poster and the name of the person who organized it: Grace Ho. This nobody is about to become student council president. She just doesn’t know it yet.

I’m definitely hooked on Youth & Consequences after this first episode. Anna Akana is fabulous as Farrah Cutney. There’s enough mysterious and intrigue to keep you guessing at each turn, while the humor keeps it fun. I love the diverse cast, and there are some familiar faces along with a bunch of new ones. The acting is great and the characters relatable and believable. Farrah and Colin are definitely the most interesting and in-depth characters so far and they have a great dynamic and partnership. On the surface this may seem like just another high school drama, but there are some serious layers that are already visible in the first episode, and it seems like those are going to get explored throughout the season.

I’ve never watched a series on YouTube Red before, and I don’t know what their ratings are typically like, but the first episode of Y&C has 1.5 million views so far. The first two episodes are available for free, which I’m sure is helping boost those numbers. YouTube offers a 30-day free trial to Red which I will definitely be signing up for so I can watch the rest of the series.


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