Flesh And Bone, Anyone Watch It?


When a classmate mentioned to me a couple of months ago that there was a new ballet series, I put it on my to-do list for a future day.  That day turned out to be over this past weekend, when I unexpectedly found myself with a copy of it on dvd.

I guess I should clarify that I hadn’t heard or read anything about this show besides that it was from one of the writers of Breaking Bad or something. Boyfriend and I binge-watched all the seasons of Breaking Bad about a year ago on Netflix, so I get it that it was going to be rated R. However, I was unprepared for just how… graphic the show is. Also, I’ve only watched the first three or four episodes so far; I decided I need to take a break and watch something more light-hearted for a few days.

The actual ballet dancing appears to fade into the background, with graphic nudity and explicit – not to mention abusive, exploitative, violent, etc -sex scenes taking main focus. There are way too many extended scenes taking place in a strip club. I mean,we get it, a character (or two?) works there (how they would have any time and energy left after rehearsing with a professional company all day every day is anyone’s guess). Why must we then repeatedly watch random other girls’ extended-take striptease dance when we can’t seem to get beyond a few short clips of ballet class here and there (including this beautiful adagio danced by Sarah Hay in the first episode that is seriously the only scene I’ve felt the urge to watch more than once – if anything, I’ve fast-forwarded quite a bit…). Perhaps I’m old-fashioned – no wait, I know  I’m old-fashioned – but I just don’t understand how this level of gratuitous nudity is relevant to the plot. If the writers needed it to emphasize any character development traits and they couldn’t think of any other way, in my opinion they’re not very good writers. Come on, stop just going for the cheap thrills!

I don’t know… I watched Black Swan and was surprised when a different classmate had said it was graphic, but this seriers is so much more intense. It presents a (hopefully at least partly fictional or at least exagerrated – can’t say “exagerrated” with out an “r rated”, ha ha) picture of the professional ballet dancer world that definitely does not make me wish I’d could’ve been one. It takes people that we may admire (in the general sense, like their dancing), and makes them not just regular people, but incredibly messed up trainwrecks of people. I don’t think there’s one likable character in the whole bunch (except maybe the homeless dude, yes seriously). I’ve met ex-pros before (taken class from or with) and they seem like perfectly normal people. Well, extremely flexible, with good posture, and in better shape than average normal people.

And yes, I am also asking myself if it makes me somewhat hypocritical that I enoyed Breaking Bad but seem to find this show draining. I think it’s because with the other show I knew right from the premise that it was about something somewhat dark (the illicit manufacture and trade of drugs), whereas with this genre (ballet movies) I thought it could be something like Dance Academy, Center Stage, or at it’s most graphic, Black Swan. I was wrong.

Am I just super uptight and showing my age? (Ha!)

Anyone else watch it? What are your thoughts?


19 thoughts on “Flesh And Bone, Anyone Watch It?

  1. Trippmadam

    I did not watch it yet. I planned to, as soon as it was available over here, but now I am not sure if I really want to. I am somewhat old-fashioned, too. Nothing wrong with graphic or explicit scenes if they are necessary for the story or the development of a character, but if not, why bother?

      1. kit Post author

        There’s not much ballet in it, but what little there is was not bad (it helps that it was Swan Lake). I didn’t think it was enough to make up for the rest of it though.
        I do wonder who the target audience for this kind of show even is. While I get the feeling that the show’s supposed to have a deeper meaning, all the uglyness is so distracting and quite depressing. It’s like, bad scenario after bad scenario, and it just keeps getting worse. For me, definitely not lighthearted escapism material like dance-related movies sometimes are…

  2. Ryan Tran

    I watched it and sorry to say that it’s so dark and wrong in many aspects. I still prefer Dance Academy to this mess. Maybe because I’m a dreamer, I can’t accept it with light heart. Haha.

  3. kitteacat

    I think the problem with shows or movies revolving around a ballet company is that there are so few of them that everyone assumes it must be EXACTLY like that. It’s kinda like assuming everyone was like John Wayne from watching old westerns. I see Flesh & Bone as a show about a girl with some serious mental and emotional issues who happens to dance ballet – not a show about ballet. I think that’s why the strip club scenes are so prevalent and graphic – Claire is drawn to the place because she’s seeking control over her myriad of issues, not because it has anything to do with dancing.
    Unfortunately, they made the show a short season because it was way too expensive to produce, and I think the actual ballet was what got cut. It’s a shame, because was full of talented dancers, and I would have liked to see more DANCING. I liked the show for what it was, but it was not a realistic portrayal of ballet dancers.

    1. kit Post author

      Ok, it does appear that part of my problem is that I thought it was a series ABOUT ballet (or at least that’s how my classmate presented it to me). My bad for not doing some more research before watching.
      Still though, to use my repetitive Black Swan example, that movie was also about a girl with a lot of mental or emotional issues who happened to be a ballet dancer, and even then there was no need to get so explicit. Perhaps they just needed more footage to fill, although if that’s the case they should have just included more ballet, in my opinion.
      In addition to Claire, the other characters and scenarios are still too over the top. One of the last things I watched was a very stressful scene with Claire’s brother and roommate, both of whom seem just as full of issues as Claire. But I guess in such a limited production run there was no time for a less-explicit display of character development.
      I will eventually get through the whole series and see how I feel about it then.

  4. meetatbarre

    I thought it was stupid, but hate watched the whole thing. The writing is just BAD. The dancing (when they danced) was good, but everything else was just ridiculous and over the top. So yeah…I guess I agree with you.

    1. kit Post author

      I made myself watch another episode tonight, was rewarded Odette’s variation, and then promptly started feeling sick over the whole scenario (minus the actual dancing).I’ll probably end up watching the whole thing eventually – stupid curiosity.

  5. Kristi

    I watched it and very much disliked it. I kept hoping that it would get better but it didn’t, it got more disturbing in the final episodes.

  6. lasttendu

    Agreed. I watch a lot of hbo and netflix series so i can handle graphic material as long as there is a strong plot, compelling characters, and the darkness is tempered with light occasionally. But this was just one long grim note, and kind of icky. Meanwhile, the base plot was actually super cliche – naive but freakishly talented white girl goes to big city to become ballerina. Are there no other ballet plots, really?

  7. Basia

    I’m not into watching senseless violence, especially exploitative sex scenes – it would make me depressed.
    Ballet for me is a joy, and sure I’ve read Michaella De Prince’s book and it has some horrible parts, but it’s not sensationalism it’s a true story. Like you said, the ballerinas I’ve met are normal, and most of the biographies by ballerinas were normal too. So don’t know why they’d do ballet this way.

    1. kit Post author

      I agree about ballet being a joyful thing for me. And there is nothing joyful about this show, just darkness and despair.
      It seems to me as though they are painting the world of ballet in a bad light, but I think that was just an unintended consequence of the “gritty realism” they were going for. Either way, can’t say I’m a fan.
      I think a story based on a ballerina’s autobiography would make a much better film/show.

    1. kit Post author

      I think I watched an episode or two and found the teacher lady to be really abrasive and rude. But I think I did enjoy it more than Flesh and Bone, for what it’s worth…


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