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Series / Backstage

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Backstage is a Canadian drama series created by Fresh TV, aka the same company behind such animated series as 6teen, the Total Drama franchise, Stōked, and Grojband.

The series is set at a performing arts high school known as Keaton School of the Arts, which teaches such classes as dancing, singing, music, and the visual arts. It focuses on the trials and tribulations of the various students attending the school, as well as their teachers. Rather than a singular protagonist however, the series uses the Ensemble Cast approach, with the spotlight being given to some of the many dancers, singers, musicians, and artists (all played by people genuinely trained in the performing arts) at the school.

Debuting in 2016, Backstage' aired on Family Channel in its home country and on Disney Channel in the U.S. It ran for two seasons and a total of 60 episodes, with the the second season making its debut on Netflix in early 2017.

The series shows examples of the following tropes:

  • The Ace
    • Kit is able to make a mix that is praised by the teacher in the few minutes that Jax is not hogging the computer, despite Jax being a self-proclaimed professional. It is revealed in a later episode that this is because she is also a professional DJ.
    • Julie is a good student, one of the student council presidents, and is good at visual arts, dancing, and singing (without really trying).
  • Affectionate Nickname: Kit calls her sister, Scarlett "Scarly."
  • Alliterative Name: Bianca Blackwell.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Kit.
  • Alpha Bitch
    • Bianca is pretty bitchy to Alya, who has done absolutely nothing to her. It is, however, hinted that this is mostly out of jealousy and insecurity.
    • The leader of the Primas, Cassandra, is overly controlling to all the members of the Primas (even dictating who they can and can't be friends with), feeling no sympathy for those who aren't willing to put 110% into everything dance-related.
    • When Vanessa is kicked out of the Primas, Jenna goes from being a seemingly close friend to an unreasonable bitch seemingly overnight. She also switches between being friendly with Julie when alone to being cruel and saying that they are not friends when in front of the rest of the freshman dance class (after being the one to want to go through with the plan to humiliate her).
  • Ambiguous Ending: Bianca's sub-plot in "Lose Yourself" has her questioning her place at Keaton and trying to work through it by writing song lyrics. She starts one with "Never be ordinary", but throws it out in frustration. An unseen person picks it up and finishes the lyrics, which are found by Denzel and posted on the bulletin board. The episode ends without the viewer learning who finished them (Denzel's reaction suggests it wasn't him).
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jax finds Bianca bossy and annoying, but he still really likes her. She finds him arrogant, but her Confession Cam suggests that she returns his feelings.
  • The B Grade: In "Lose Yourself", Denzel visibly frets over getting a 95 percent score on an exam. Possibly justified, given that Keaton is implied to have some pretty high standards.
  • Beware the Nice Ones
    • In "The Understudy," Alya rips Bianca a new one when she believes that Bianca vandalized her play poster, even going so far as to insult Bianca's singing. Unfortunately, Bianca had nothing to do with it. Miles messed with the poster as a joke.
    • In "Try Again," Denzel shoves Austin down after Austin pushes Kit. Difference being that Austin winds up in the emergency room.
  • But Now I Must Go: After returning for her mid-semester performance with Miles, Alya decides to leave Keaton to go on tour with the cast of "La Boheme". Even more sad because their duet made Miles think that she had decided to stay. But she just hadn't wanted to bail on him.
  • Color Coded For Your Convience: The Prima's wear blue leotards, instead of the standard black the rest of the dance program members wear.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Played with. Sasha's classmates chuckle when his pants fall down in the middle of dance class, but the moment is ultimately played for drama, since Sasha was afraid to have the pants tailored because they would emphasize his thin physique.
  • Confession Cam: Used frequently.
  • Cool Teacher:
    • The teacher for the Music Program, Mr. Park, says that his door is always open if any of his students ever need anything. He also stands up to Jax when he gets the wrong idea about Miles' medications.
    • Miss Maria helps Sasha with his relationship problems and compliments Carly, who is usually in the shadow of her more talented friend. She also dedicates an entire class period to helping Vanessa loosen up with her dancing.
  • Curtains Match the Windows: Almost all of the dark-haired students, except for Bianca, have dark eyes as well. The only exception to this rule seems to be Bianca, who has Icy Blue Eyes.
  • Dance Party Ending: The third episode's freshman orientation. Not surprising, given that this is a performing arts school.
  • Dark Secret:
    • Miles is clearly hiding something for the first two episodes. It is eventually revealed that he has a kidney disease.
    • Julie reveals to Scarlett that her parents don't know she's attending Keaton.
    • In episode 9, Kit accidentally reveals to Jax that she's DJ Diamondmind.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Given that no one at Keaton knew she was DJ Diamondmind, Kit probably should have considered how her using tracks she'd released professionally for her Keaton audition would be interpreted.
    • Miles messed with Alya's play poster as a joke, apparently expecting her to find this hilarious. Naturally, she didn't; it just made her angry with him.
  • Downer Ending: "Showtime", the mid-season finale of Season 1. Vanessa's ankle breaks during her solo in "Step, Sister". Carly chooses to replace her on stage instead of going with her to the hospital, her friendships with both Vanessa and Sasha ruined. Despite making up with Miles, Alya leaves Keaton to go on tour with "La Boheme". Bianca ignores her feelings for Jax and seats her friend Ivy between the two of them during their date. And Denzel outs his idol Julie's Dark Secret to her Fantasy Forbidding Parents.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Vanessa gives one of these to Carly for telling Miss Maria about her injured ankle. Carly then turns around and gives one to Sasha, as he was the one who actually spilled the secret.
  • Fantasy Forbidding Parents: Julie's parents wouldn't even let her audition for Keaton, since they don't see art as a real profession. They didn't even put her childhood art up on the fridge.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Scarlett is the beautiful sister, while Kit is the smart sister. They snark at each other almost every time they're on screen, but they love each other at the end of the day.
  • Gossipy Hen: Sasha runs the school's gossip blog, and he also has no problem with entering the girls' change room while Carly and Vanessa are arguing, though he ultimately doesn't put it on his blog. Additionally, he deletes his blog in "Try Again" so that he can join a dance group called the Streets.
  • Green-Eyed Monster
    • Carly is obviously very jealous and upset that Vanessa was invited to join the Primas and she wasn't. Though they seem to be mending their friendship as of the end of episode 3.
    • Jax is also jealous that Miles seems to be getting special treatment.
    • Jax's jealousy of Kit reaches the level where he gets her (temporarily) expelled. He gets over it when he learns that Kit is actually his hero DJ Diamondmind.
    • Bianca also appears to be getting more and more jealous of Alya for getting the part that Bianca wanted.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Alya seems to be this, and Carly seems to be quite kind as well, despite her current jealous streak.
  • Happily Adopted: Kit and Scarlett are sisters through adoption, but Scarlett has a harder time accepting the fact that she doesn't know her biological parents than Kit. However, they both clearly love their adoptive parents.
  • Humble Hero: Vanessa tries really hard not to let her joining the Primas affect her friendship with Carly.
  • I Can Still Dance: Despite the concern of Carly, Sasha, and Miss Maria, Vanessa insists on dancing the lead in "Step, Sister" with her badly-injured ankle.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Bianca.
  • Informed Ability: Vanessa doesn't seem to be that much of a better dancer than Carly, yet only Vanessa is invited to join the Primas in the first episode.
  • It's All About Me: Scarlett has a tendency to laud her talent over people and overlook any problems that don't involve her. She doesn't work well with others and takes advantage of Denzel's desire to be needed. Even her sister finds it hard to put up with her ego.
  • Jerkass
    • Jax, at least to Kit in the first episode and Miles in the next few episodes, believing that he's better than Kit at making music mixes and thinking that Miles is getting special treatment from the teachers, to the point where he tries to get Miles and later, Kit expelled. However, Jax and Miles become best friends.
    • Austin can be a primadonna and is widely acknowledged as a player. Not to mention whispering in Carly's ear that she should do something to punish Julie.
  • Love Epiphany: While ranting about how arrogant and annoying and sweet Jax is, Bianca has one, complete with an Oh, Crap! reaction.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Miles puts together an elaborate plan to hack Julie's computer in order to play her an original song and ask her out. The plan goes without a hitch, until she sees his name at the end of the message and asks "Who's Miles?".note 
  • The Mentor: The whole point of the mentoring classes that the upperclassmen put on every month. Sasha is an unofficial mentor to Carly and Vanessa, offering them advice during their argument.
  • Mr. Exposition: Sasha's role in the first episode is to explain Ms. Helsweel to Carly and Vanessa.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "The Understudy" sees Alya finally reach her breaking point and rip into Bianca for the latter's bad attitude. Unfortunately, she takes it a step too far and tells Bianca she's a bad singer, sending Bianca out of the room in tears. Alya immediately regrets it, which is made worse by The Reveal that Bianca didn't even do the thing that set Alya off.
  • Nice Girl:
    • Even though Vanessa is mad at Carly in the second episode, she still praises Carly's duet during her confessional near the end of the episode.
    • When Alya stands up to Bianca at the end of the second episode, she still doesn't stoop to Bianca's level. She never insults Bianca's talent, but still lets her know that she (Alya) is also talented.
    • When Vanessa gets hurt and has to go to the hospital during "Step, Sister", the only thing that stops Carly from going to the hospital with her is Jenna being overly enthusiastic about taking over the role.
  • Nice Guy: Sasha, who essentially takes Vanessa's role as Carly's best friend while the two of them are fighting, though he isn't being malicious towards Vanessa.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Miss Maria tries to have this conversation twice with Vanessa, who cuts her off both times. She later reveals that she is also very similar to Julie, in that her parents were also disappointed in her for choosing an art career.
  • The Perfectionist: Vanessa is terrified of not performing perfectly. It's ultimately deconstructed, as her obsession with being perfect is negatively affecting her dancing, since she can't just loosen up and have fun.
  • The Primadonna: Scarlett likes to think that she's the best singer the school has ever seen, to the point where she has never done a group assignment willingly, wanting her voice to stand out as much as possible.
  • The Quiet One: Miles is quiet to pretty much everyone but Alya, at least in the first episode. He doesn't even speak in his first Confession Cam.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Scarlett, when she's running the mentorship class in the second episode. The student body president, Julie, seems to be pretty reasonable as well.
  • Serious Business: When Jenna takes Vanessa's usual spot at the barre in their ballet class, it is treated as very serious.
  • Shrinking Violet: Poor Alya... Though she is able to stand up for herself when it's really necessary.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Lose Yourself", Principal Durani mentions that he has his DVR set to record Castle.
    • In "Friend or Foe", Sloan calls Vanessa "Tiny Dancer".
    • In "Me," Bianca talks about getting a role in a John Green movie.
  • Stage Fright: Alya seems to get quite nervous about performing in front of others, at least until Miles gives her a confidence boost.
  • Status Quo Is God: In the third episode it seems like Miles and Jax, as well as Bianca and Alya, are becoming friends, but by the end of the episode (or beginning of the next episode, in the boys' case), they are back to being enemies. However, Vanessa and Carly appear to be friends again after making up in the third episode. Basically every episode after that, Carly and Vanessa get into an argument and stop being friends, seemingly making up at the end of the episode only to continue not being friends in the next episode.
  • Stern Teacher: The teacher for the Dance Program, Ms. Helsweel, is much, much less welcoming than Mr. Park is and also is much stingier with compliments.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The song that Carly and Vanessa use for their duet in "Fallout" is nearly identical, from the theme to the speeding-up of the song, to the theme song of Pretty Little Liars.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Julie is a remarkably good dancer (able to do aerials, multiple turns, and several advanced leaps) for somebody who is not supposed to have any dance training. Lamp Shaded in "After the Flood," where it is revealed that she took dance classes until the age of 9. Nevertheless, she is still very skilled considering she hasn't had formal training in over five years at this point.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Bianca never once thanks Alya for helping her when she was struggling with an assignment. When pressed about it, she flatly denies that Alya had anything to do with it.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy
    • Denzel, who is artistic, feels overshadowed by his athletic brothers. Even though he wishes his parents would take pride in his accomplishments, he is too afraid of rejection to even talk to them about it.
    • Bianca wishes that her mother would be as proud of her as she is of Alya, who has a superior singing voice.
    • Julie can't bear to disappoint her hardworking parents with her choice of career, which is why she lies about going to a different school and pays someone to take her PSATs for her. However, they later realize they are pushing her too hard.
  • Wham Line:
    • Episode 2: Jax: "Your drugs are ready? No way he's getting away with this."
    • Episode 3: Jax: "Miles is ... sick?"
    • Episode 9: When Kit is claiming that her beats (which she's accused of stealing) were all original:
    Jax: The only way that's possible is if you're Diamondmind.
    Kit: Exactly.
    • Season 2, episode 6: Beckett: "Just admit it, Mom." (to Helsweel)
  • Workaholic:
    • Julie was up all night, drinking twelve cups of coffee, to put together the freshman orientation, only for only five students, including Sasha, a sophomore, to show up - almost all dance students.
    • Cassandra eats, drinks, and breathes dance, to the point of alienating all of her friends outside the dance program.