Short of some determined performances and picturesque locations, Dive Club brings nothing new to the cluttered teen drama table.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick of influencer culture. And to be honest, I’m not even sure if the teenage friends at the center of Netflix’s Dive Club could be considered influencers – they’re upbeat, enthusiastic YouTubers who chronicle their undersea adventures around the picturesque but bland coast of Cape Mercy. But it’s the same thing, more or less; a life lived only in the ambit of a smartphone camera, every interaction performative and exaggerated.
This is what makes this Aussie teen drama insufferable to me, even though it’s probably what’ll also make it popular among the younger-skewing, presumably female audience it’s pitching towards. Nothing about it seems genuine, even when the girls are off-camera. (That’s off their own cameras, you understand.) It’s odd, honestly. The group dynamic is shattered when one of their number, ostensible leader Lauren (Georgia-May Davis), disappears after a cyclone and is presumed dead. You’d think that’d be the source of some actual drama, but no, not really. There’s always time for go-nowhere scenes of singing and dancing, boring romances, and trite family melodrama. The show needs the remaining girls to be obsessed with Lauren’s disappearance to keep the plot moving, but you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d forgotten about her altogether.
Those other girls are Maddie (Miah Madden), Stevie (Sana’a Shaik), Anna (Aubri Ibrag), and Izzie (Mercy Cornwall), the latter being a newcomer who arrives with her engineer father, John (Tim Ross), to assist in the post-cyclone clean-up. Quickly, she falls in with the Dive Club and becomes determined to help them put together the various clues that help to explain Lauren’s disappearance, eventually with the help of a semi-famous Russian explorer named Leonid (Ryan Harrison), who is the most enjoyable character purely by virtue of his accent.
So, there’s a mystery to solve, but across twelve episodes, each just under 30 minutes, Dive Club hardly seems in a rush to do so. And that’s understandable considering there are handsome young men, including Brad (Joseph Spanti), Lauren’s boyfriend Henry (Josh Heuston), and his best friend Hayden (Alexander Grant), to keep the girls occupied. This is bland, obligatory teen-drama stuff, but much too sedate and serious for the viewers young enough to be taken in by the show’s thirst for nautical adventure. It’s hard to know who this show is for, really. Certainly not me.
The fresh-faced performers, most of them newcomers, do their best to sell the trite material, and I imagine the show will make a nice launchpad for some better career opportunities. Aubri Ibrag is particularly watchable; it wouldn’t surprise me if she was at the front of the casting queue the next time Netflix requires a princess or some such to front a new Christmas franchise film.
I can’t speak for how much kids will enjoy Dive Club. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like that much of a kids’ show to me, but I’m probably too deep into the misery of adulthood to know at this point. Everyone else will find little of value here, some nice-looking location shooting notwithstanding.