‘Cindy La Regia’ Series Review: An Inconsistent Coming-Of-Age Comedy Drama

Coming-of-age movies and television shows are an interesting genre. It allows the audience of every age group to come to terms with the current milieu and prepare their minds for the fact that every generation has a different mindset. One just needs to accept and understand it. Sex Education, Derry Girls, Never Have I Ever, and Ginny and Georgia are some of the shows that tackle the coming-of-age genre. A lot could be imbibed from these stories that are about a particular generation and their manner of dealing with issues at hand. Cindy la Regia: The High School Years is a new Mexican Netflix original show that deals with a bunch of teenage girls and boys dealing with life as high school students. The show is based on a graphic novel by Ricardo Cucamonga and will be released on the streaming platform on December 20, 2023.

Cindy la Regia: The High School Years is seven episodes long and is about the children of rich families living in the town of San Pedro Garza García in Mexico. These rich families and the children attending private schools are only concerned about popularity and fame. Cynthia “Cindy” is one of the teenage girls, from a well-to-do family. Lu and Tere are her best friends, and she is suddenly burdened by Angelica “Angie,” her cousin from the city, who has joined her school.

Initially, there is a lot of distance between the two, but both find a middle ground, and Angie is accepted into her group. Angie comes out as gay to Cindy, and things are not the same anymore in the friend circle, as the burgeoning homophobia is a problem for a lot of children of her age who are facing a crisis of coming to terms with their sexual identity. Cindy takes it upon herself to make some social changes in her vicinity, but a lot of re-conditioning needs to be done.

There is also the issue of a young American student, Max Johnson, studying with them. Cindy and him have been a couple for a while. Things in that area change when Cindy comes across a devastating truth. Lu is struggling as the less popular girl, and Tere is having difficulty coming out as gay to her friends because of rampant prejudice. Is Cindy successful in bringing about social change? Will there be any major changes that the girls could witness during their school days?

Though the intent of all the writers is admirable, the story and the screenplay did not do justice to the cause they are trying to champion through the show. Writers Hipatia Argüero Mendoza, José Miguel Núñez, Anna Grajales, Paola Mazlum, and Indra Villaseñor Amador tried to fit in too many social subjects but could not do them justice and did not provide an adequate ending to any of them. The looming subject is homophobia and the fear kids have of ostracization and discrimination. This subject is brought up, but it is never given a proper arc or a conclusion. There is no redemption arc for those who are accused of homophobia.

Another subplot involving a certain adult making a pass at a student is not dealt with in the right manner. The reaction to that incident and the execution of the story and the screenplay are shoddy. The subject is included to highlight the kind of people that exist. A golden opportunity to handle the subject sensitively is lost, and the closing of this arc is infuriating and childish. The narrative of the show is sped up to establish relationships. There is no time given to any person to breathe and come around to a certain someone. Angie and Cindy’s relationship as cousins went from strangers to best friends in no time. There is no time given for their familial bond to develop into a friendship. Angie’s character required a proper arc, but the writers managed to keep the narrative shaky and confusing. It is hard to establish what these girls wanted from life.

The story and screenplay are largely about female bonding and friendship, but hardly any aspect of it is covered by the makers. All these subjects are discussed only on the surface. There is hardly any scope for emotion and sentiment, which is an important aspect of any show or movie that is based on friendship. All the young girls in the show needed their arcs, something that could not be covered in episodes that are hardly twenty-four minutes long. The screenplay could have explored the depth and history of friendship instead of beating around the bush. There is chaos written all over the narrative, which brings down the engagement quality of the show.

The makers also added a lot of toxic positivity to Cindy’s character. She seems to be disconnected from ground reality, and this characteristic of the lead is frustrating because the writers hardly explore her dilemmas and feelings. The attraction she felt for a boy in her study group is hardly touched upon. The subplot, which is supposed to highlight Cindy’s change of heart, ended rather abruptly. Another tiny subplot has Tere, one of Cindy’s friends, having an affinity for the Catholic Church, but there is no history or context established as to why Tere is a staunch Catholic.

A character named Karla is introduced who has come out publicly as a gay student, but her character is not pursued in the rest of the show. This pattern of starting a secondary storyline to elevate the existing main plot continues till the end, which leads to the writers delivering the wrong messages and a disappointing ending. The writer has got the message wrong in the name of being an LGBTQIA+ ally. One of the gay girls claims that ‘the people of the town would never embrace some of them because they are different’. Teens who come out as gay are not different; only their sexual identities and preferences differ.

Cindy la Regia: The High School Yearswould have been a very good show if the writer had not tried too hard to fit into the current world of inclusivity and worked on the material. Four out of five writers on the show are women, and they could not do justice to all the female leads who practically carry the show on their shoulders. There is no humor or coming-of-age elements that would help the audience understand the growth each girl has gone through.

The direction by Miguel Necoechea Jr., Indra Villaseñor Amador, and Ruth Cherem Daniel is decent but gets overshadowed by a screenplay and an outlandish story. It could have been a classic example of women telling women stories, but sadly, the show hardly delivered anything extraordinary. Even though the runtime of each episode is shorter, the editing lacked finesse.

None of the performances stood out, even though certain characters had some scope to deep dive into their state of mind and come to terms with their sexuality. Cindy la Regia: The High School Years is a hit and a miss with the potential to become a game changer. All of it is lost in this inconsistent coming-of-age comedy-drama.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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