Greased woke-ness? TV reboot of 1978 film shocks fans with song about white supremacy and non-binary trans characters

7 April 2023, 01:33

The TV reboot of iconic 1978 film Grease tackles topics including 'sexual orientation, gender expression and racial identity'.
The TV reboot of iconic 1978 film Grease tackles topics including 'sexual orientation, gender expression and racial identity'. Picture: LBC / Alamy / Paramount

By Danielle DeWolfe

Fans of the hit 1978 musical Grease have been left shocked after the new TV reboot features characters unrecognisable from the original, choosing instead to tackle gender politics and even featuring a song about white supremacy.

Set in 1954, the series acts as a prequel to the 1978 film despite tackling a host of contemporary topics, including sexuality, racism and gender identity.

The series, entitled 'Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies', launched on Paramount+ on April 6 and includes songs fans will know and love - alongside new original numbers.

The series is also set to broach controversial subject matters - including a student Olivia who allegedly has an affair with her adult English teacher.

Set in 1952, the series acts as a prequel to the 1978 film despite tackling a host of contemporary topics, including sexuality, racism and gender identity.
Set in 1952, the series acts as a prequel to the 1978 film despite tackling a host of contemporary topics, including sexuality, racism and gender identity. Picture: LBC / Alamy

The show is set against the backdrop of Rydell High School, however, the Pink Ladies and T-Birds will instead feature a mix of Black, Asian, Latinx and LGBT characters.

The show's premise sees the four main female characters each overcome obstacles on their journey to form their own musical quartet.

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Prominent characters in the series include gender nonconforming nonbinary trans character, Cynthia, played by Ari Notartomaso, who struggles to fit in at high school.

"Queerness, gender nonconformity and transness throughout time hasn't always been exactly the same," says Notartomaso, whose character initially wants to join the all-male T-Birds.

Set in 1952, the series acts as a prequel to the 1978 film despite tackling a host of contemporary topics, including sexuality, racism and gender identity.
Set in 1952, the series acts as a prequel to the 1978 film despite tackling a host of contemporary topics, including sexuality, racism and gender identity. Picture: LBC / Alamy

"All of us are a product of the culture that we live in, but it is really special to be able to tell that story of what it may have been like in the 1950s."

The series has already faced harsh criticism, even being labelled the reboot "no one asked for".

A handful of characters are recognisable from the original 1978 hit, with half-Latina, half-Italian Jane, played by Marisa Davila, cast as the older sister to pink haired character Frenchy.

The series has already faced harsh criticism, even being labelled the reboot "no one asked for".
The series has already faced harsh criticism, even being labelled the reboot "no one asked for". Picture: LBC / Paramount+

Meanwhile Mexican-American student Olivia has an alleged affair with her teacher, as Tricia Fukuhara, who plays Nancy as part of the series, plays a Japanese American struggling to conform at high school.

A notable musical addition, a song entitled 'In The Club' even sees affluent white country club founders animated, emerging from a painting in order to sing about white supremacy.

And with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John nowhere to be seen, Danny Zuko is replaced by a similar character played by Jason Schmidt, with even the show's lead lacking the staying power of their predecessor.

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