‘Maxton Hall’ Amazon Prime Review: The Pandemic Of Self-Serious Shows About Elite Teens Needs To End


If you think about stories about high schoolers, what are some of the titles that pop into your mind? Stanley Ka Dabba, Taare Zameen Par, Just Mohabbat, and maybe Neev. Hollywood is chock full of some classics, too. But there’s a different breed of high school stories that are centered around the most elite kids in existence who love to do everything but study, featuring fully-grown adult actors pretending to be high schoolers so that they can be legally sexualized. I think this trend was started by Gossip Girl, and since it became a massive hit, it has become a pandemic. As a result, we got absolute trash like Young Royals, 13 Reasons Why, Elite, Class, and, of course, the worst of the worst, Euphoria. Now, joining this list, all the way from Germany, is the insufferable as hell, Maxton Hall.

Martin Schreier and Tarek Roehlinger’s Maxton Hall, which has been written by Daphne Ferraro, Juliana Lima Dehne, Zoe Magdalena, Marlene Melchior, Nina Rathke, Marc Shieber, and Anna Schimrigk and is based on the book Save Me by Mona Kasten, primarily follows Ruby Bell. She comes from a middle-class family (even though it seems like she is upper-middle-class), and she lives with her sister, Ember, her mother, Helen, and her physically challenged father, Angus. Ruby aspires to go to the University of Oxford. So, she enrolls in the titular high school because getting a recommendation from there would ensure her entry into Oxford. But when she accidentally walks in on her mentor, Sutton, snogging a student, all hell breaks loose because that student is not just any student; it’s Lydia Beaufort. Apparently, the Beauforts are a big deal. Mortimer Beaufort is the king of a textile empire, which is set to be helmed by his son James. Since the Beauforts are kind of the face of Maxton Hall, James rushes to Lydia’s rescue by aiming to crush Ruby. However, they predictably fall for each other, thereby leading to a whirlwind romance or some nonsense like that.

I don’t want to sugarcoat this. I’ll just say it as it is. Maxton Hall is a bloody “yappathon” (a yappathon is where characters are in a marathon, but instead of running, they are talking endlessly). To be clear, the screener provided by Prime Video was an English dub of the German series. But I don’t think the dubbing somehow multiplied the number of German dialogues by a dizzying degree. And the infuriating thing is that every single character in the show talks so much, yet they end up saying nothing. It’s like a stream of several bowls of word salad stacked on top of each other being chucked in the viewer’s direction. Every single character is so damn annoying that it made me want to punch a hole through my laptop screen. Then I remembered that my laptop had helped me through some tough times, and it didn’t deserve to be treated horribly because of a show that it was screening for me. So, I just clenched my fist and watched scene after scene of Ruby Bell trying to be the audience surrogate by showing a bit of spine and standing up to all these rich monsters and then backtracking for no good reason. The act of backtracking would’ve been tolerable if it wasn’t for the dumb and repetitive expressions on Harriet Herbig-Matten’s face.

If you make it through the barrage of horribly written dialogues, prepare to be smacked by the puke-inducing teacher-student romance subplot. I am sure there’s not a single place in the multiverse where a relationship between a 30-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl isn’t looked down upon. But the writers of Maxton Hall do give it their best shot, and it’s certainly one of the most repulsive things I have seen on the small screen this year. To be honest, I would’ve gone easy on this series if it had even an inkling of charisma or style. The whole plot is centered around some kind of gala event where everyone has to wear Victorian-era dresses. And despite spending so much time on it, the whole party ends up being a boring affair. Even though Student of the Year and the severely underrated sequel to it (just kidding) were hollow and obnoxiously glamorous, they at least gave us some memorable dance sequences. All that Maxton Hall has to offer is a bunch of dated pop songs that appear out of nowhere and then leave the scene pretty randomly. To be honest, everything about the show seems like a combination of inconsistent artistic choices. I’ll be surprised if anyone who has worked on the show can honestly say that they wanted to adapt this particular story because their heart was in it and not because the algorithm demanded it.

The acting in Maxton Hall confused me for a brief amount of time because I wasn’t sure if the actors were simply bad at acting or if they were struggling to make these badly written characters feel like three-dimensional human beings. But then I looked at Fedja van Huet (who was mind-blowing in the chilling horror film Speak No Evil) and saw that he was giving a great performance. Yes, the writing around Mortimer is incredibly cliche, but you can clearly see Fedja giving the audience something to latch onto. Damian Hardung spends the entirety of the running time with a dumb-as-rocks look on his face. I have already talked about Harriet’s acting chops. The rest of the supporting cast is as bad as them and sometimes worse than the leads. I think all of them are suffering from what I call the “Instagram acting” or “TikTok acting” syndrome. I’m sure you’ve come across those short videos of aspiring actors reenacting scenes from their favorite movies or doing something “original” all by themselves. However, it’s unironically over the top and has no nuance. Yet, it’s lapped up by the attention-deficit audience because that’s what the algorithm has taught them to love. Yes, that’s what I think is happening in this show. Everyone is doing their own thing. There’s no semblance of chemistry. Just scene after scene of uninspired “acting.”

It’s a no-brainer that you should avoid Maxton Hall like the plague. But, in addition to that, please stop reading books with titles like Save Me. Please stop making bestsellers out of every run-of-the-mill teen drama. I don’t want to see any more feature film adaptations or serialized adaptations of stories where 20-something adults pretend to be teenagers to titillate the sickest sections of the audience. Yes, I know teens have sex. But if I have to watch something between 2 and 8 hours of just that, it better have some substance to it. If not, then it should be wrapped tightly in a trash bag and launched into space. At the cost of sounding repetitive, please develop your taste and watch or read some good high school-centric stories so that people like me don’t have to suffer through nonsense like Maxton Hall!

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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