Make It Or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 3

The abrupt end to the 2020 NCAA gymnastics season was a shock to everyone, us included. And while we understand and support the measures being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it means that a lot of us are suddenly left with extra time on our hands…

Which is why we’ve decided to embark on an important journey, one that will take us back through one of television’s most important series to date: Make It or Break It. Every Saturday (and a number of other bonus days) from now until the 2021 season, our editors Katherine, Kalley and Claire will be breaking down and recapping each episode of everyone’s favorite gymnastics show. 

Want to watch along? You can find MIOBI on Hulu and the Freeform app, all you have to have is a subscription/cable login. You can also buy the DVDs or purchase seasons or single episodes on various platforms, like iTunes. Join us in the cheesiness and the early 2010s TV gymnastics by using the hashtag #MakeItOrBreakItDown on Twitter as you watch.

You can read our S1E1 recap here.

S1E3: Blowing Off Steam

It’s shaping up to be another busy day at The Rock, but true love always finds a way to persist in the toughest of conditions. Carter has an important message for Kaylie:

Typical men being confusing! Because the best way to share with your crush an important message is to do so in a way that can be instantly erased by anyone at any moment.

We cut to Cambria, California. Lauren’s Daddy has taken matters into his own hands and ventured into the California wilderness. He arrives at secret compound of a Mr. Sasha Belov, who apparently didn’t want to be found.

Does he even get service out there? We get that he’s a former coach who faded into the background after “reinventing the sport.” It’s been “many years” since he’s been on the international stage. So like, he coached an iconic team at age 18? I’ve never been a good judge of age, but he looks like a grad student. And, according to Lauren’s Daddy, like David Beckham too. He’s hot, I guess, but…

Cue a fishing metaphor from Belov to imply that he’s not as far removed from current gymnastics as he may seem. He says he’d have considered coming to coach at The Rock if the former squad was still together, but now that they’re separate, the magic is gone. The gears start turning in Lauren’s Daddy’s balding head.

Meanwhile, it’s a stressful day back at The Rock. Up on the beam, Kaylie’s dad is screaming at her and she’s more on edge than Sunisa Lee’s toes during this balance check. What could calm her down more than Lauren’s Daddy parading Lauren into the gym…with Belov sauntering in right behind?

“The mediocrity of it all…”

White male rage in the nondescript parent area as the dads fight over this development. Real dialogue: “You should be kissing my…feet for this!” “I don’t want to kiss anything of yours.” “Now you’re just hurting my feelings.” Sasha Belov decides he can’t take anymore of this homoerotic exchange and says…

Not if Payson can help it. She runs after him with apparently the entire rest of the gym.

This reminds me of that viral sorority recruitment video with the clapping. That would be enough for me, personally, to run away, but Belov’s cold little heart starts to melt.

Time for his big intro to the gym. As he paces in silence in front of the hopeful group, I anxiously await him breaking out into “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Mulan. No dice, turns out.

“Go home and say goodbye to your lives as you know it…pack your bags, you’re about to join the cast of Big Brother Season 22!” Kidding about the last part, but it’s clear that Coach Belov means business and isn’t horsing around. Such a big departure from every other gymnastics coach, now they’ll REALLY get some work done. Lauren’s pretty hype about that.

Kaylie and Payson have some tea to spill about all of this, so they make plans to hit “Spruce Juice” (which could totally be a code name for performance-enhancing drugs). And, how sweet, they invite Emily! Conveniently, Lauren is right there to witness this blossoming new kinship.

At the aptly-named juice bar, the girls are commiserating when Lauren parades in at a table located just close enough to make her presence known. She’s joined two nondescript Rock gymnasts, basically the Crabbe and Goyle to her Malfoy.

Apparently, it’s her birthday, which she makes VERY clear she will be celebrating with only her daddy—no friends like before. Payson is wistful about this before Kaylie hits her with a cold dose of reality: “It’s not our fault we’re not friends anymore.” DAMN!

Enter a random meathead who invites the girls to a ~*pArTy*~. Living in Philly, I get party/rave flyers under my door all the time. I usually throw them away, but THIS one would definitely have me taking a second look.

Kaylie really wants to hit this “kegger.” “Have you ever BEEN to a high school party?” She says, intoning “high school party” like it’s “Drake’s VIP section of the club.” To the surprise of no one, Payson feels unsure, claiming she wants to wait till she’s at the Olympic Village to party (talk about counting your chickens). Emily is coolly indifferent, claiming she’s been to “a few” parties in her time already. Ever the ingenue!

The three make plans to attend, and oh, what a coincidence, Lauren is looking on as they do. Shake. That. Table! Don’t worry, Lauren, I’m sure a nice quality dinner with your basket case of a father will be just as entertaining.

Emily gets home and rants to her brother about “THE coach” who’s come to ruin their lives. If she thought that was depressing, she gets a slap in the face when he announces the phone bill hasn’t been paid, right as Mom saunters in from an apparent Pretty Woman-esque shopping spree. She was even nice enough to buy something for Emily with all that money she doesn’t have.

I’m…so sorry, Emily. Really all I have to say.

It’s Payson’s parents’ turn to speculate on the new coach. Apparently, Belov was an Olympic champion that earned gold in front of…hope you’re sitting down…Marty! Back in 1996! No awfully-Photoshopped photos to back this one up, but I have a feeling it’s information we’ll need for later.

“I don’t want that happening to our little girl.” “She’s not all that little.” I’m kind of rooting for this dad? 🥺

Kaylie picking an outfit for this party reminds me of my friends and I picking our looks for the One Direction concert we went to, TOTALLY confident that Harry Styles would fall for us on first sight of our Justice graphic tees.

According to Leo, “Boys are after four things at a kegger: brew, booty, then more booty and even more brew.” But why would Kaylie need that mediocre kegger booty when she can have…

Why is that more romantic than John Adams’s love letters to Abigail? Kaylie asks him to hold off until tomorrow, then blabs to Leo that he (Carter) is TOTALLY respectful of her…wishes? To which Leo, her brother, says:

Emily decides to don that cute little number from mommy’s shopping spree to the big event. After being called “hot” and “smoking hot” by her mother and brother, respectively, she decides she’s had enough implied incest for the night and heads out.

She arrives with her friends to the party and they awkwardly stand around for a few moments before coming to the sobering realization that parties aren’t really fun without alcohol. Kaylie drags Payson in search of what is sure to be beer of the highest quality while Emily stands around and tries to look occupied.

Meanwhile, Lauren and her father settle down to dinner when he drops the bombshell that Summer will be in attendance. To which Lauren is (rightfully) like…

“How much of a Christian can [Summer] be…she wears Dolce and Gabbana?” I GOT THAT REFERENCE, LAUREN. I KNEW YOU WERE WOKE ALL ALONG.

We cut to the raging kegger and boy, this is lit. Emily runs into Razor from Pizza Shack, aka Shawn Mendes. Deadbeat Friend No. 1 asks if Emily is “Pizza Shack girl.” Furthering his reputation that anyone named Razor would incur, we find out that he is in a band with said friend, and another one (Deadbeat Friend No. 2) who saunters over.

Comforting! These savory characters take turns making primitive grunts that they think sound like compliments toward Emily before leaving her alone with Razor. She pleads with him not to tell the girls how they REALLY know each other, to which a wounded Razor takes on the Romeo role and fully comprehends his place in the hierarchy. Gymnastics > fellow pizza shop employees. Marta Karolyi’s like, get this man a medal.

At another truly energetic social event across town, Lauren receives a lovely charm bracelet from her daddy for her birthday. Might want to get that tightened?

Lauren really likes it until she learns that it was Summer’s idea to buy it in the first place. Ew! Lauren’s Daddy helpfully diffuses the ensuing tension by excusing himself. An awkward exchange follows between the two scorned women, which ends in Lauren implying Summer is a gold digger, giving her birthday gift to the WAITER and storming out.

Back at the party, Kaylie is White Girl Wasted™️ on who knows how many beers, which provides some much-needed comic relief prior to Razor’s band taking the stage. And y’all, it’s basically the second coming of Green Day. Listen to these lyrics: “[unintelligible] make appropriate exits…I don’t want to be lonely like the people I have sex with.”

Kaylie apparently didn’t appreciate these groundbreaking sounds and went off to impress some boys with a truly Gymnastics Media™️ moment…a keg stand! But who does she see while flipped upside down?

Upside Down Carter is basically my conscience telling me not to make a bad decision right before I do it anyway.

He’s pretty upset as he realizes Kaylie ditched hanging out with him to go to this shindig, and lied about it. Upset enough to break up their “relationship” right then and there, apparently, because Kaylie only wants to be with him “when it’s convenient.”

They all pile into Leo’s (Kaylie’s brother’s) car and leave in a sad haze. Emily, mercifully, takes the front seat as Payson plays “mom” with Kaylie in the back.

Razor and Deadbeat Friend No. 2 look on wistfully as they drive away. Deadbeat Friend No. 2 asks if Emily’s boyfriend is the one driving the car, to which Razor says that’s not possible because there’s no way she could be into anyone but him. Aggressive male energy diffuses around them as Razor asks Deadbeat Friend No. 2 to take over some shifts for him at the pizza shop while he works his roadie gig. What could go wrong?

Razor, possessiveness looks about as good on you as that faux-preppy sweater. Do you think you go to Hogwarts?

Meanwhile, amidst the dry heaving sound effects in the car, Emily and Leo have a little heart to heart and a knowing glance passes between them. It’s Leo’s turn to pry into Emily’s personal life as he asks if Razor is her boyfriend. Boys, boys, one at a time! He caps his little diatribe off with the classic “You’re not like most girls your age” line. Leonardo DiCaprio probably said the same thing. Girl, there’s PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA, please find another one.

Things are winding down at the kegger, but that’s apparently Lauren’s time to shine. She shows up looking totally appropriate for the occasion.

She and Carter meet up and take turns trashing Kaylie, because what’s cuter than trading jabs against someone who’s not there to defend herself? #GirlsSupportGirls. Eventually Lauren decides, for the sake of feminism, to cut this little gabfest short and make out with Carter instead.

One thing leads to another, and suddenly they’re in the house pulling on clothes. I’m sure they had more great conversation in the meantime. Def would appreciate some more context to that situation so I could fully judge the…you know…okayness of it all, but we don’t get much because it’s 2009.

Balance Check

Every week we will break down the little moments that stood out as being extremely on point and those that wobbled a bit too much. Shout out to Vulture and its Gossip Girl Reality Index for providing the template for our version. 

Faker Than Gymnasts Having Spare Time in Their Days to Get Smoothies

  • Sasha Belov’s moody, cordoned-off state. Men who live off the land don’t look like Calvin Klein models. Minus 5.
  • The whole 5 a.a. practice thing. Jesus. Correct me in the comments, but no gym REALLY does this, right? Minus 1.
  • Payson actually being upfront with her parents that she’s going to a party with alcohol. Minus 10. Girl…say less!
  • Lauren calling her dad “daddy” unironically. Minus 3. This term had been colloquially memed on the Internet by now, right?
  • Emily’s mom being awake when she gets back from the party. If this were REALLY an ABC Family drama, there’d be a montage of her sneaking back into the house and smiling all along at how clever she is. Minus 4.

Total: -21

Realer Than White Men Thinking They’re The Saviors of Modern Music

  • Kaylie’s dad telling her to smile while she’s up on the beam. Plus 5. Not saying I agree with it, but…we’ve all heard that before.
  • Emily’s mom announcing “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and Emily sullenly replying, “It’s June.” Plus 7. At any other time, I’d roll my eyes…but in this current quarantine-influenced viewing, I can relate. What day is it?  
  • Payson being the sober sister/mom of the group. There’s always one, and she is an unsung hero. Plus 14.
  • Summer claiming she had to help Lauren’s Daddy pick out Lauren’s gift because, well, “you know men.” Yup! Plus 5.
  • “[She had] however many beers it takes for a 90 pound girl to get drunk.” “So, one?” Plus 7. Leo’s been around.

Total: 38

Given the heavy emphasis on “normal teenager activities,” MIOBI came through with the realness this week with a grand total of 17.


1: The Feeling After You Find Out NCAAs Is Cancelled (Too Soon?)

2: The NCAA Banning Chalk Blowing Choreography

3: Brandie Jay’s Accidental DTY

4: Kelly Garrison Squeal After a Stuck Oklahoma Vault

5: It was beautiful, it was lovely, we went out there and ENJOYED THIS

Recap by Katherine Weaver

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