KISSING GAME is timely and deadly
Netflix’s new series KISSING GAME follows in the path of other hits about teens in school, such as ELITE and YOUNG ROYALS. But this time, the setting is a poor Brazilian cattle-ranching town, and the students are mostly working class. When a contagious disease starts making its way through the student body, no one is safe.
Creator Esmir Filho’s storytelling is swift and clever. We meet a mixed group of characters that can be found in most academic drams – the strict (or is it crazy?) principal, the lad in an internet relationship, the poor student whose mother’s illness threatens their housing, the pan-sexual boy out on Grindr. As with the other series’, the are a fascinating bunch.
Michel Joelsas as Chico makes the most impact as the young man struggling with puberty and the pull of adulthood, trying to be good, but doomed to fail. As with the other students, the performance is honest, casually sexy, and profound.
You can’t watch the show without thinking of Covid or HIV – other diseases in our lifetimes that caused so much heartbreak for those who were sick, and those around them. A scene in which parishioners prevent mourners from bring in the casket of a student who has died is particularly wrenching.
At this writing, I am halfway through KISSING GAME. But I will stay the course and pursue it to what seems likely to be a very deadly end.