TV Review: I’m With The Band – Nasty Cherry

Who the fuck is Nasty Cherry?

Meet Chloe, the lead guitarist, who is also singer in a band called Kitten. Meet Georgia, the bass guitarist (who actually moved to America and learned bass just to play for Nasty Cherry). Meet Debbie, the drummer, who really wants to get into production. Meet Gabi, the lead singer, who at the band’s launch “wouldn’t sing in front of anyone”. And meet Emmie, the woman tasked with managing them and helping them reach international stardom. (Also, meet Chuyo, Gabi’s iconic mum)

Charli XCX is a woman who needs no introduction. Back in 2018, before the release of Charli, and even the success of 1999 and everything she’s created since, she decided it wasn’t enough. She wanted a band. So she put together four of her friends, who all knew her through different means, gave them a house and some instruments.

First point: Nasty Cherry are actually really good. ‘Win’ is catchy and intoxicating, and through watching the show you can see that it comes from a point where they were all so desperate for the band to become a success. Yet you could tell that they were terrified. Has a group been put together quite in this way? Backed by a global pop star and faced with massive hype, despite not having a single song released? And for Debbie and Georgia especially, to have put their lives on hold and fly across the world, they really did need to win.

It’s extremely interesting to see how the four work together as they get to know each other and improve both themselves and each other, both as people and musicians. The most interesting dynamics are both through Georgia. One of the quieter members of the band, but also really assertive, she gets on really well with Debbie. Their friendship is one of the sweetest moments of the whole show.

(P.S. If biases are a thing outside of TV shows and k-pop, my Nasty Cherry bias would be Debbie. If for nothing else, we both share the same canny inability to open literally ANYTHING.)

Arguably, beyond the whole idea of women feeling empowered and making it in the music industry off of their own backs, the biggest plotline of the show is the tension between Chloe and the other members of the group, in particular, Georgia. (BTW, also check out Kitten, Chloe’s original band who also feature heavily. They’re great.) At one point, disagreements over production contribute to Chloe feeling so unvalued and disrespected that she even quits the band. While the two of them eventually resolve their differences, the way the events played out present the biggest problem I have with ‘I’m With The Band’.

I can accept that the target audience is teenagers, mainly female (but honestly who cares). Netflix has gone about trying to attract them in the completely long way. While Charli presents it (and sees it) as a biopic about how she created a band and how a girl band can succeed, it is edited to look more like a rip-off of Geordie Shore, The Valleys, in fact, literally every constructed reality show which has burst into life in the 2010s. So, while, I don’t doubt that while everything they were feeling was real, the presentation of it is fake. Chloe is given some sort of a villain representation throughout, watching her struggle with balancing two bands and get priorities wrong, not open up about how she really feels, etc. All of which is completely valid. Only, anyone watching that, and seeing how she was made to be seen like she had done something wrong when in reality she was just a human…. it’s not a good message to be putting out, especially to a younger audience. People fuck up, and while Chloe was given a road to redemption (and a staged final scene with Georgia), it doesn’t make up for the toxic image presented surrounding her relationship with the band. Plus, it undermines the whole premise of the show.

I feel also that the show itself focusses on the wrong parts of their rise. Their natural pulling together as a group is only occasionally seen. Most episodes include friends or family of band members visiting, looking around and imparting wisdom onto them. And as much as I love all of them in their own ways, the six episodes could have been put together much better. Focus more on the realities of their decision to pursue the band. Let’s see them mess around in the kitchen, or work really hard being creative. There’s zero need for the fakeness.

This is worth a watch, but it’s far from essential viewing, nor is it particularly enthralling. I do hope for a second season though, as I want to see them continue their journey. And the band themselves are great (their debut EP ‘Season 1’ came out last week), and I honestly love them all as individuals. But any follow up needs to actually feel real, otherwise there is absolutely no point in this show even existing.

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