On November 5, Amazon Studios released the first season of its long-advertised reality television series “Tampa Baes,” which follows a group of lesbian friends in their late 20s as they battle relationship drama. , unrequited lust and explorations of their identity. . Marketed as an open exploration of the Tampa Bay lesbian scene, “Tampa Baes” sets up implicit expectations of diversity and entertainment. Unfortunately, its lack of clear storytelling or cast chemistry results in a boring premiere and a season not really worth ending.
Even before its release, Tampa-based critics questioned the lack of variable gender expression as well as the ethnic and body diversity within the main cast. While Tampa is home to many black, Caribbean, and immigrant residents, the cast of “Tampa Baes” is disproportionately bright and feminine. As “Creative Loafing Tampa” explains, “Those particularly familiar with Tampa’s demographics felt that the cast was generally not representative of the city’s queer community.”
Arguably, this lack of diversity is due to Amazon’s selection of a pre-existing group of friends – an already fairly homogeneous group – rather than a hand-picked representative sample. In theory, the show’s focus on an established group of friends could have provided better chemistry and more entertaining drama due to pre-existing relationships. However, the confusing narrative style and inauthentic interactions leave the first episode flawed.
Rather than developing a clear storyline, the first episode sporadically introduces viewers to the cast with little continuity. In the foreground, Cuppie – a nurse and transplant from Tampa to Orlando – describes his nostalgia for the lesbian scene in Tampa. She reflects on the bad relationship decisions that led to her move and her enthusiasm to reconnect with her original group of friends upon her imminent return to town, which provides a pretty heartwarming opening to the series. But when viewers see this reunion happen in the next scene, the rest of the cast are so unenthusiastic and uncharismatic that the interaction feels more awkward than joyful.
The episode then cycles through the introductions of the other nine main actors, never taking the time to highlight or distinguish their personalities. While viewers are able to clearly see which cast members relate to each other and which couples are having dramas with other pairs, the lack of time spent showcasing their individual personalities makes the motivations behind. of their ambiguous and unconvincing conflicts.
Unlike other blockbuster reality shows, the characters themselves lack theatrical personalities. Overall, they tend to speak monotonously, with bland, disinterested facial expressions. While shows like “Love Island” and “Real Housewives” trap viewers with their quick and unpredictable portrayals of both lovable and loathsome personalities, “Tampa Baes” is the image of neutrality.
Even in times when the drama seems to come to a head – for example, as Mack curses Summer and Marissa on their way to the bar for flouting the rival couple Haley and Brianna – the only footage available to viewers was a muffled audio recording. . of the argument advanced by Shiva. Their faces omitted, it was again impossible to see them expressing the slightest emotion and the whole rhythm of the show fell flat at a crucial dramatic moment. Rather than exacerbating the tension and highlighting the conflicts in the group, the altercation lacked authenticity.
Coupled with a sloppy narrative order, this ambivalence creates a disjointed and uninteresting resulting product. While viewers can grasp the larger structure of the series, a lack of character transparency and boring relationships make “Tampa Baes” a series not worth finishing.
– Editor-in-Chief Anya Henry can be contacted at [email protected]