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Recensione serie: Boarders


- Daniel Lawrence Taylor firma uno studio attuale e incisivo della mobilità sociale e dell'identità attraverso un gruppo di adolescenti neri dotati ma svantaggiati in un collegio d'élite

Recensione serie: Boarders
sx-dx: Aruna Jalloh, Josh Tedeku, Jodie Campbell, Myles Kamwendo e Sekou Diaby in Boarders

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

In his latest project, Boarders, British writer and actor Daniel Lawrence Taylor, who wrote and starred in the 2017 sci-fi sitcom Timewasters, explores life within an elite private boarding school. This coming-of-age teen dramedy, now screening at Series Mania, centres on a cohort of gifted black youths from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, who are awarded scholarships to attend the prestigious St Gilbert's. The school's outreach programme is a thinly veiled PR effort to rehabilitate its image following a scandal involving its affluent students, rather than a scheme to genuinely embrace diversity. However, the scholarship opportunity is a proverbial “golden ticket” to a more promising future, even though the students already exhibit talent and potential which, because of the absence of any formal recognition, may not open doors to social mobility or self-fulfilment.

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Taylor assembles an ensemble cast of five characters, each with their own distinct narrative arc, for this on-campus clash of identity, class and race. Jaheim (Josh Tedeku) is an academically gifted jock grappling with the integration process at a new school. Toby (Sekou Diaby) excels as a natural polyglot, yet he chooses to cultivate a reputation as the group's go-to fixer. Leah (Jodie Campbell) is a politically engaged firecracker, always ready to spark discussion and challenge the status quo. Omar (Myles Kamwendo) is the quintessential geek of the group, dedicated to unravelling the mystery of a purported secret society on campus, and Femi (Aruna Jalloh) tries hard to impress his new peers.

The character arcs unfold within the insular world of the campus. The setting offers a fertile breeding ground for the exploration of typical teenage conflicts, yet the series deepens these encounters by focusing on interactions with the authoritative figure of the headmaster, Bernard (Derek Riddell), a fervent guardian of the school's bizarre traditions and rituals. The show is constructed around a fish-out-of-water premise as Taylor navigates the balance between comedy and drama, ensuring that the series does not shy away from uncomfortable moments of implicit or explicit racism and classism.

However, Boarders avoids becoming overtly political, grounding its conflicts in the universal tumult of teenage drama propelled by the dynamics of secondary-school power, identity and sexual politics, leading to grudges, heartbreaks and the constant flux of alliances within this closed-off environment.

Taylor respects the genre tropes and archetypes while refreshing them and reinterpreting them through the prism of the black experience. Boarders extends the legacy of genre classics like The Breakfast Club and Freaks and Geeks, updating it for Gen Z in the social-media age.

The series showcases the dynamic interactions of its ensemble cast within the framework of character-driven storytelling under the direction of Ethosheia Hylton (Sanditon, The Underground) and Sarmad Masud (You Don't Know Me, Bulletproof). Despite addressing challenging themes such as racism and societal prejudices, Boarders maintains a predominantly light and comedic tone, occasionally teetering on the edge of satire. Taylor's series stands out on account of its dynamic, inspirational and smart portrayal of underprivileged youngsters trying to find their place within a world of privilege through resilience and by utilising unconventional methods to overcome obstacles and defy the odds – and the socioeconomic barriers – stacked against them.

Boarders was developed by Studio Lambert in association with All3Media International for BBC Three.

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