It is a rare misfortune in the work of film and series reviews that we chance upon two back-to-back uninspiring, haphazardly put-together pieces of work. One was a story that couldn’t be bothered to explain itself and right after that was “Dance Brothers.” Where was the dance in this God-awful series, and why was the conflict, love, or tension between the brothers so lukewarm? Granted, it is a very short series, but why will we bother watching it at all if it is this bland? A lot of the content out there is undoubtedly mediocre, and the audiences have resigned themselves to it. That is why it surprises us when something is so bad. Why not just replicate what has been done before when audiences have long since shed their aversion to watching the same thing on screen again and again due to the lack of options?
In all honesty, Roderick Kabanga and Samuel Kujala, who play Roni and Sakari, respectively, did a fantastic job. The belligerent attitude borne of Roni’s anxiety and an easy-going manner due to Sakke’s lack of a shared goal with his brother were executed to perfection. But the story itself was severely lacking. For example, it would have been nice to get a bit of Roni’s history with his panic attacks. Viima seemed to know about them and maybe a few others. In the series “Dance Brothers,” Sakke saw Roni having a panic attack just once. But his demeanor suggested that he was aware of them. In that case, why was there never any conversation between them regarding it or even a mention of it? Due to the lack of that, we have hated Roni throughout the runtime of the ten episodes. Then there was Sakke. What was his personality other than being the easy-going brother? What was he bringing to the table, and why did Roni feel so dependent on him if he only meant to fire him again and again? Plus, if they worked and presented themselves as a team, why was only Sakke selected? Also, if dancing wasn’t his dream, then what was? But if that is what he wanted, except not with his brother, then why did he feel so bound to him? Where was the brotherly love, and why did we see none of it?
We just seem to have a series of questions about the series because it has given us nothing else. Maybe our disappointment is compounded by the fact that the first episode led us to believe that we would be watching a story where art came together with an entrepreneurial spirit. Contrary to popular discourse, it is never “pure art” that the audience falls wildly in love with. It is a careful amalgamation of what they already like, what they expect, and how it fits with the current social climate and sensibilities. Each finished piece of work goes through layers and layers of feedback, approval, and input. Dance is no exception. The word “choreography” was thrown around a lot, but we saw none of it. Even the opening dance number was so bland that we believe that the series creators forgot to hire choreographers for themselves. It is sad because it looked like the actors actually had some real dancing chops in them. Honestly, only Karo gave us a strong storyline, in addition to some good moves in the limited chances she got to use them.
That brings us to another point: why do the men in this series treat women so horribly? Not one of them is an exception. Sakke and Roni are verbally abusive and, quite literally, slut shame Karo and Viima. Angelo is pretty much a sexual predator and an overall terrible person. We found it especially upsetting how the women seemed to forgive the men later on. Karo still drew a boundary with Sakke, but we believe she shouldn’t have let him back into her life, to begin with. As for Viima, we cannot believe that she apologized to Roni for being “unprofessional” after the things he said to her, which were clearly his fault. Angelo was the only one properly dealt with, but it is still a jarring treatment because he was still the antagonist. Did Roni and Sakke get a pass just because they were the protagonists?
As the series “Dance Brothers” reached a close, we were waiting with bated breath that now we would see a good dance number, which everyone has been talking about. The disappointment of that aside, what happened to Sakke? We have long accepted that creative liberties will always be taken with mental health representation on screen, but were the creators being serious by just transferring it from Roni to Sakke as a cathartic moment? Were the people in the hall actually deluded enough to think their fight was some form of choreography? At this point, the series is not just taking us for granted (which we allow a lot) but is insulting our intelligence (where we draw the line).
A short runtime doesn’t necessarily mean that the storyline needs to be skimped. Just pick the ones worth telling and weave them together effectively. Roni’s mental health should have been explored; the illegality of their club functioning as a front for money laundering could have been a plot point; their hustle to get into the good places should have just been more; and finally, for the love of all that is holy, there needed to be more dance. Absolutely nothing about “Dance Brothers” made it unique to dancers. They could have switched out the art form for singing, comedy, or literally anything else, and it would have been the same story. This lack of adding their own unique spin to things is what is rotting ideas into below-par content. “Dance Brothers” could have been something, but that will only remain an idea, at least for the foreseeable future, and we are going to facepalm the next time someone misses the brief again.