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'Clique' Brings a Menacing Turn to the Mean Girls in College
November 7, 2018  | By David Hinckley
 

Intriguing television shows can pop in from almost anywhere these days, which is both the good and the exhausting news.

In the case of Clique, a 2017 U.K. thriller set in Scotland, it’s popping up in the U.S. on Pop. Specifically, its six-episode first season premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

After starting out as a familiar and almost breezy story about young women feeling the first exhilarating freedoms of college, Clique takes a dark turn.

Things unfold mostly through the eyes of Holly (Synnove Karlsen) and Georgia (Aisling Franciosi), long-time best friends who have come to university together.

We soon realize Holly is the more sensible and level-headed of the two, which does not mean she is always sensible and level-headed.

Georgia wants to have a good time and work her way into the popular circles, which they quickly realize revolves around a seemingly privileged group that includes Rachel (Rachel Hurd-Wood), Fay (Emma Appleton), Louise (Sophia Brown) and Phoebe (Ella-Rae Smith).

Holly and Georgia also quickly realize that this inner circle has a strong connection to Dr. Jude McDermid (Louise Brealey), an economics professor who co-founded the Solasta Women’s Initiative.

As she makes clear in her opening remarks to her macroeconomics survey class, McDermid is a tough-love kind of feminist.

Sure, she says, the deck is stacked against all you women in this classroom. But if you don’t get into the game and fight anyway, you have only yourselves to blame.  

The Solasta Initiative, run by McDermid and her brother Alastair (Emun Elliott), brings promising, ambitious women into an internship program. They are taught and mentored in finance and then placed in positions at Emun’s bank, where they are assured they have an excellent chance to succeed and advance.

Solasta internships are a major prize at this school, and Georgia sets her sights on getting one. This dovetails nicely with her other networking plans since the two shining examples of Solasta success currently on campus are Fay and Louise.

If Georgia gets into their group, she figures she’ll have an inside track.

Holly remains a bit more cautious, particularly when Georgia drags her to an elite rich-kids party and Holly sees what goes on.

To be honest, it’s not that different from elite rich-kids parties in a hundred other movies. Cocaine in the back rooms, lots and lots of alcohol, a lot of exposed flesh swimming around in the pool.

On the basic level, it’s an Animal House party with a bigger budget. But we also get hints there’s something more sinister going on behind the expensive curtain, and further hints that Professor McDermid may have a role.

In any case, most of the foreground action in Clique focuses on this tight circle of women who form the school’s ruling class. They aren’t mean girls so much as elite girls, exempt from the rules because they have money, status, and power.

From whence that power flows, to what ends it might be channeled and its more precise nature, raise questions to which Clique slowly and skillfully weaves some troubling answers.

 
 
 
 
 
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