The following contains spoilers from the premiere of Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.
Two familiar names (and one very familiar voice) pop up in the premiere of Paramount+’s now-streaming Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, adding a cheeky full-circle element to the musical prequel series.
Set in 1954, Rise of the Pink Ladies chronicles the formation of Rydell High’s first-ever girl gang, spearheaded by Jane Facciano (played by Marisa Davila). And here’s where the surprise Grease connection comes in: We learn midway through Episode 1 that Jane’s younger sister Fran has been given a “vulgar” nickname by her troublemaking BFF Betty. That name is — drumroll please — Frenchy!
That’s right, Jane’s middle school-aged sister is Frenchy, the future Pink Lady played by the legendary Didi Conn in the 1978 film version of the musical. And let’s be clear, actress Madison Elizabeth Lagares is giving us full Conn in this performance. Sometimes it just sounds like she’s mouthing along to dialogue recorded by Conn specifically for this show. It’s actually kind of wild.
And it shouldn’t take a detective to figure out that Frenchy’s pal Betty (played by Emma Shannon) is in fact Betty Rizzo, portrayed in the movie by Stockard Channing — aka the actress who was done incredibly dirty by the film’s animated opening sequence. I hope whoever was responsible for drawing her cartoon portrait still wakes up in the wee hours of the morning in a cold sweat, eternally remorseful about what they did.
Anyway, Rizzo makes her appearance towards the end of the episode for a secret sleepover with Frenchy. Jane has just become a social pariah and is feeling pretty down on herself, but a chance conversation with the two girls — specifically Frenchy explaining that having a friend like Rizzo is the only way she’s going to “survive” junior high — ultimately inspires Jane to round up a squad of her own.
Introducing the next, er first, generation of Pink Ladies: there’s Nancy (Tricia Fukuhara), a fashionista who was dumped by her two previous besties because they “matured” (aka got boyfriends); Olivia (Cheyenne Isabel Wells), who chooses to lean into the bad-girl reputation she developed after becoming involved with a teacher; and Cynthia (Ari Notartomaso), a wannabe T-Bird who’s tired of being disrespected and undervalued by the boys.
Jane has her own reasons for wanting to go Pink, but it mainly boils down to her wanting revenge — nay, justice — against the jerky jocks and childish cheerleaders of Rydell High, especially her ex-boyfriend Buddy, who lied about how far they got in the backseat of his car at the drive-in.
As you can see, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies is more than just an origin story. It’s even more than a musical. It’s an important reminder that teenagers have always been capable of great acts of evil, decades before cell phones and social media came into the picture.
Are you sewing your name onto a pink jacket as we speak, or are you going to make like future Frenchy and drop out of this show after one episode? Vote in our polls below, then drop a comment with your full review.
My wife is a lifelong “Grease” fan (she even loves Grease 2 unironically), and she made it 15 minutes before turning it off. We’re both in our 50s, and her exact quote was “I’m not in the age group this was intended for.”
I’m sure folks will LOVE this, just wasn’t for us.
i think its awesome that your wife loves Grease 2, because i believe its a highly underrated film!
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This is an unpopular opinion, but I think Grease 2 was better (by far) than grease! And no one can change my mind! :) LOL.
I share the same unpopular opinion. Grease 2 is superior!
Grease 2 was great! Had some great songs, and Michelle Pfeiffer was good in it.
“Reproduction … Reproduction!”
“We’re gonna to Sco-or-ore tonite … we’re gonna sco-or-or.”
For this being all about “rise” of the Pink Ladies, as Strong Rebellious Independent Women free of Society’s rules, it kind of misses the mark of what the Pink Ladies would become in the two Grease movies: the girlfriends of the T-Birds. Did they not really pay attention to the movies that closely? I mean Michelle Pfeiffer’s character Stephanie in Grease 2 got kicked out because she dumped Adrian Zmed’s T-Bird Johnny character…
Dude, it’s two episodes. Chill out — the first movie was set five years in the future, the second seven years in the future. The point of an origin story is to establish an origin. And to act cool, to look cool, and to be cool.
Not even sure who the target audience is. Grease was a cultural phenomenon and the first movie was totally about John Travolta and Olivia Newton John making it a must see movie. Grease 2 didn’t get much love but it was fine as well.
The one thing it wasn’t about was “representation”. A 50s do wop era period piece is not the right milieu for gender fluids and DEI. Not shocking pretty much all the White kids are baddies. We got it White is bad. Not sure how this is remotely about Pink Ladies (oh and lady means biological female if there is confusion)
Why are you so afraid of non-white, non-straight, non-cis people? Are you afraid they’ll take over and treat you as badly as you treat them? That’s the only reason I can see for a dude to be so scared of people he perceives as unworthy of visibility.
I love these Pink Ladies — and a “lady” is anyone with the self-awareness to know that their view of themself isn’t dictated by an old white guy.
I am neither scared of nor treat people any differently if they are queer or queer adjacent; nor do I have any animus toward any specific race. Why is the response always “shut up bigot”?
The show is set in the 50s it is a thematic framework that is basically greasers vs prep. It worked well in the Outsiders and also Dirty Dancing (two other iconic movies). The shoehorning in of the DEI agenda is repugnant to me and has no place in a 50s High School greaser musical.
Christine Jorgensen (May 30, 1926 – May 3, 1989) was the first transitioned openly trans woman to came out after her surgery in 1952.
The gender affirming surgeries were happening for years before 1952 secretly for the wealthy.
People of other races existed in America in the 50’s.
So starting a show set in the 50’s can’t have non-white, non-straight and non-cis people is historically in accurate lol.
It wouldn’t be shocking that most white kids would be bad guys in this either , they lived at a time were racism was normalized as an example they didn’t know better, the 50’s were before the civil rights movement. It is what it is .
Those issues were there back them but were just treated differently, there is nothing new under the sun.
This is also a teen drama ,clearly targeted at modern teens.
The truth is everyone wants freedom of speech and to be respected until someone says something that offends them or they don’t agree with…
The character of Cynthia in this show is clearly a call back to Anybodys in the 1961 version of West Side Story. And I, for one, am excited to see this character.
I am getting tired of those who complain about POC actors being cast in remakes – do you think that everyone in the 1950s was white, just because most of the actors in the movies were? And please, no more of your “biological female” stuff. Do you even know how repulsive that is?
The comments just show how the show got it wrong
IT IS SET IN THE 50’S not in 2023, so why bring 20203 bs into an era that obv didnt have 2023 bs
I expect people who couldnt wait for this who thought they were the target audience to feel very let down
The show is a “Riverside” ripoff.
I meant “Riverdale.”
SPOILERS GUYS! It’s not even 24 hours since the episode dropped. (Although to be fair, early development reports did say one of the leads would be an older sister to one of the movie’s main characters)
I first watched Grease the movie in the early 80s and fell in love with it, so that might be colouring my opinion of this. But I think it wasn’t bad, it was clearly trying to be ~grease~ instead of being its own thing though. All the new pink ladies fit the same stereotypes as the originals, and a lot of the characters seemed to be direct copies of characters from the movie – buddy (Tom), Dot (Jan) etc And while the songs were different, the scenes were very similar. Even some of the story points were similar. There were far too many nods to Grease in the first episode imo. The second ep was better, but still not as good as I was hoping.
It was kinda cool to see the younger versions of some characters tho, like rizzo, frenchie and even Principal McGee (assistant principal in this). The actress that played Fran (Frenchie) was amazing, she really became Frenchie.
I’ll probably watch more, see how it goes.
I just watched Grease of Rise of the Pink Ladies. It was excellent and I know for sure that the original cast of grease will be seeing this to. It as a back around in the first episode about Jane little sister is Frenchy played by Didi Conn it is great to see the original cast of grease is apart of this. Movie
I think Jane did a excellent job to get the pink Lady’s together again. Just like her little sister did in the original grease movie. All I am saying go team pink lady’s that rule the school.
I misinterpreted the headline think a member of the OG cast had a cameo…
I enjoyed Grease the movie, a 70s classic, but I assumed this would be set in the 50’s but meant for today’s YA crowd and not for me, so I didn’t watch. Based on comments, I suspect I was correct. But now I want to at least see the opening animated credits to see what they did to Stockard Channing’s Rizzo that was so terrible.
The writer was referring to the opening credits of the original Grease movie.
The multicultural cast is unrealistic for the time. If they can’t cast it correctly, you lose it right there.
I would say in grease of the Rise of the pink Lady’s are better than the original pink Lady’s in the original they are older now than the cast of grease of the Rise of the pink Lady’s are way better
Cool songs better dancing than that ridiculous j lo stuff.
In Grease rise of the pink lady’s episode four was amazing. If the original pink lades from grease were there they will say outstanding job on that song that the cast and crew did. On the track and field move on over original grease the pink lady’s are on a roll
In episode six when the pink lady’s was at Cynthia house watching TV together. They did the same thing when the original pink lady’s did. But the original pink lady’s they drink