“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies”: Fiercely Feminist and All Around Phenomenal


Elizabeth Ippolito

Created By: Annabel Oaks

Based on: “Grease” by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Starring: Marisa Davila, Cheyenne Isabel Wells, and Johnathan Nieves

Rating: 4/ 5


In April of 2023, Paramount + began streaming “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.” The series is a spinoff prequel of “Grease,” a 1978 movie-musical starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The film follows a group of cliques in their 1950s high school. The series surrounds the forming of the iconic Pink Ladies that fans love in the film. 

The show follows Jane Facciano, a goody two shoes who after being dumped by her soc boyfriend Buddy, decides to run against him for school president. She does this to clear up rumors started by Buddy about his and Jane’s sexual relationship. Jane’s campaign seems to flop until she befriends Olivia Valdovinos, Cynthia Znudowski, and Nancy Nakagawa to assist her in her campaign. The group does everything in its power to help Jane win the election so outcasts like them can finally have a say in the school. 

The show is nothing like television has seen before. There has not been a project like this in a very long time. With a very female-forward cast and storyline “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” takes a classic film and puts a modern take on it. The Pink Ladies are rebellious and it is great to see their crazy antics in a way they weren’t showcased before. From public humiliation to sneaky pranks these girls do not care about the societal norms of the 1950s.

One criticism that I have is about the music. With six new songs every episode, the cast can showcase their talent. But, if you’re like me and are a huge “Grease” fan, you want to see some of the original music which the show doesn’t cover. But, the original tracks speak for themselves. With fan favorites being “Good Girl Act” and “I Want More” there is an opportunity for the new music to reprise the old.

One thing the show does inherently better than the original film is showcasing the representation of the period. In the 1950s the Hispanic population in America increased by 6,000 percent. “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” takes this population increases into account and introduces the Hispanic culture and discrimination this group faced in the series. Through Richie and Olivia Valdovinos’s storyline, audiences get a glimpse into their family’s struggles and being Mexican immigrants coming to America. Not only this, but the series shows mixed-race families as well. Jane Facciano is half Italian and half Dominican. This representation has never been seen on television before and I, as an Italian-Hispanic as well, was excited to finally see my blended heritage portrayed in the series. Jane’s family struggles with balancing her parents’ cultural differences and how they teach their children each of their native cultures. The series also explores different religions and sexualities as well. The main character Cynthia explores her sexuality struggles which are unheard of in the 1950s. Audiences can truly appreciate all of the subtle representation featured in the series and gives a refreshing look at life during this point in history.

“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” is the best show of 2023. Taking a classic IP and repurposing it tastefully is very difficult, but the series does this with ease. Whether it be the relatable characters or the 1950s nostalgia, this is a show anyone and everyone can enjoy. The series flows like a musical with every scene feeling like a dance. The use of long-moving shots and constant movement gives audiences something to look at. The show also uses bright coloring and has a production design spot on to the original film and 50s alike. Besides this, the cast is incredibly talented and surprisingly has very few credits under their belt. Cheyenne Isabel Wells talks about this jump when she states, “Oh my gosh, it’s unreal. I was definitely so nervous to start, because I didn’t know what to expect. We have such a good creative team, and, I mean, [a good] cast in general; we all were there for each other. Our director, our writers, they all helped us. Even the camera crew; they helped teach us all about cameras, and how they work, and all that stuff. It was actually a really inviting and lovely experience to go into; I would not have asked for anything better than this experience.” Breakout star Cheyenne Isabel Wells is definitely someone fans should keep their eye on in the future. She is insanely talented and has a bright future ahead of her.

The first six episodes of “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” are now streaming on Paramount + and will continue to release episodes every Thursday until June 1, 2023. If you are a fan of “Grease,” musical theater, or just need a new show to watch, “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” should be at the very top of your list.