Make It or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 16

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.

S1E17: Save The Last Dance

Emily gets yet another call from Damon, which her mom helpfully screens for her. She’s committed to helping her get over him by blasting “Shoutout To My Ex” by Little Mix in the kitchen. Kidding, that would actually be helpful. She basically says to just forget about him, which is so easy. Why didn’t Emily think of that? Or me?

Still scarred from last week’s accidental voyeurism, Carter tells Lauren how offended he is that her dad would dare come into the room of a house he owns. Lauren ignores this grandstanding and makes a big show of…um, smelling the room and deducing her father was with a common street waif.

Since it’s 100% her business who her father dates, Lauren decides to find the lucky girl and hopefully ruin her life. Not necessarily in that order.

At the gym, Kaylie’s decided to forego the Olympics for a role in a regional production of Peter Pan.

Sasha’s upset she can’t do a double Arabian because there’s no way she’ll be able to beat the Chinese gymnasts without it. Because floor’s the event you really want to focus on for that.

Problematic anti-Chinese rhetoric resurfacing in gymnastics media both factual and fictional

Carter, feeling charitable, decides he’ll take it upon himself to assist Kaylie with this most difficult gymnastics skill. Lauren watches in rage but then remembers it’s her who gets to go home to him every night to…um, do his laundry in the attic, and feels better.

Payson’s parents deliberate on whether to tell her about the miracle treatment they learned about last episode. They decide no because she seems happy without gymnastics and they don’t want to risk that. Not because they’ve vetted this “professional” to determine whether she has the right to make such outlandish medical claims.

Either way, the doctor’s in Boulder for a conference so they decide to meet with her just to hear her out. I feel like “hearing out” a shady medical professional always entails shelling out a couple thousand dollars for nothing, so bring your wallets, guys.

Speaking of Payson, she and the girls are helping her dorky friend Heather make decorations for the upcoming prom when they reveal they’ve never been to a dance or social function.

So of course, she immediately invites them to go. Do they know that prom is like a less fun version of the kegger in that there’s no free alcohol and it really just ends up being stressful the whole time?

Lauren heads to the pizza shop to tell Emily, who’s in the middle of a forced intervention with Damon. She stands her ground and refuses to take him back. Then his ankle bracelet chirps and he’s forced to slink away to meet parole guidelines. Kidding, sadly.

Lauren informs the true pizza shop A-Team of Emily, Carter and Razor that they’ll all be going to prom as a group, and that the people in that group won’t ever at all be expected to break off as couples, and even if that didn’t happen, Lauren and Carter would NEVER be one of those couples.

Chloe wants to buy Emily a prom dress that’s “elegant yet flirty, understated but sexy, kickass but cheap.” Because there’s no way she’s capable of picking a garment that meets this criteria, Sugar Daddy Steve offers to purchase one for her himself. #PerksOfDatingRich

At the meeting with the doctor, Mr. and Mrs. Keeler basically turn her down when she admits the procedure has a possibility of paralysis. Not because she showed up late, or because she’s willing to meet them in an office with this weird art on the wall.

Softcore porn?

Kaylie can do the double Arabian now and Sasha says, “The Chinese will never know what hit them.”

In a case of misunderstanding that never seems to happen on this show, Lauren goes into her dad’s car and finds the dress he bought for Emily, thinking it’s actually a dress for her.

It’s ugly.

But any anger Lauren has at her dad for dating below her station immediately melts away, because to her, that thing is stunning.

Payson and Heather get ready to leave for prom and the Keelers marvel at the fact that their daughter is capable of wearing makeup. Didn’t they learn that in the fashion show episode?

Payson attempting to put on non-dramatic gymnastics makeup

Either way, as they watch their daughter and her one non-gymnastics friend saunter off to the prom, they feel like maybe her social life will be okay, with or without a life-threatening surgical procedure. Repeat so-so parenting GIF.

In another proud parenting moment, Chloe watches her own daughter reveal her look to her at…the pizza shop. I’m sure the giant stainless steel kitchen appliances were a great stand-in for a makeup mirror.

The restaurant patrons in the background makes this a million times better. These poor people have been exposed to Razor’s crappy songs and Emily’s impromptu fashion shows in back-to-back weeks.

As Lauren sits in her room in a bathrobe like an idiot while she waits for a dress reveal that will never come, it dawns on her that maybe her dad has the capacity to buy things for someone other than her.

Everyone gathers at prom and it’s as awkward as you’d expect. Kaylie’s wearing a short dress that feels a little too homecoming. Lauren’s wearing a tiara, which feels presumptuous. And this random individual got invited a la Kevin Hart’s character in “The Wedding Ringer.”

To spice things up a little, Ike “I hate any and all forms of institutional fun” [insert last name here] arrives to make peace with Payson because he fed into the rumors about what you’re supposed to do on prom night feels bad about the way he treated her and dismissed her dreams.

That tiki face in the background is me mocking him. Anyway, they dance and that’s hopefully the end of that.

Lauren sees Emily show up in her dad’s dress and connects the dots.

The band performing at the prom is, in fact, the pizza shop’s ragtag ensemble. Because aux cords and iPods didn’t exist back in 2009. Emily doesn’t know this, Damon doesn’t know she’s going to be there and the stage is set for a reveal of all time.

Until then, let’s check in with another unhealthy relationship! Kaylie turns down Carter’s request to dance, then accepts an anonymous high schooler to dance with her instead…because a girl’s rebound.

This disgusts Carter so he literally body slams the man in question away.

Totally normal, healthy behavior! Carter says he won’t wait around for Kaylie to be interested in him again as though this was about anything other than…him waiting for her to be interested in him. Kaylie’s like literally get away from me, so Carter slinks away to Lauren in hopes she’ll accept him in her dejected state. Because if the girl he actually likes isn’t available, well, he can rebound too!

On stage, when Razor takes a break from the intense music making to dance with Emily, Damon takes his chance to seize the mic. And the look in his eyes makes me honestly fear for my life.

He attempts to stutter out the words of a song for Emily, but it just comes out like desperate gasps. So he runs off the stage in disgrace.

Emily, of course, goes to find him and reveals the real reason he was in jail is because he bought stolen music equipment to record the aforementioned horrible song. Emily, he went to prison for you? Doesn’t that make you feel better?

After Emily dares to suggest she wants more out of a relationship than song lyrics, Damon storms off because that’s apparently all he has to offer. Then Razor comes out and clarifies that Damon only ups and leaves people he really cares about. NOW do you feel better?

Later, Lauren rants to Carter about how nobody likes her, cares about her or provides from her, all from the attic of her multimillion dollar house. The episode ends with a slow dance in that tiny abode. Sorry Lauren, take it from some unfortunate historical mistresses: If he’s not willing to be with you in public, only in the confines of a 10×15 foot room, a girl’s gotta reevaluate.

Payson arrives home after a fun night at the prom, and it becomes clear that her parents want to throw every rational decision they made earlier out the window and tell her about the surgery. It was all going so well.

Points were made, Payson.

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 a Local Band Being Enlisted to Play at a Wealthy School’s Prom

  • No way Payson’s mom would have been satisfied with one quick picture on an iPhone. That is a 2-hour photographic endeavor at minimum. Minus 5.
  • Ike bothering to get a tux for prom seems a little much for his sensibilities. Minus 7.
  • Lauren is too uncultured to have ever watched a John Hughes movie. Minus 5.
  • Steve Tanner not capitulating to Lauren’s initial request that he buy her a new dress. He says yes to everything. Minus 4.
  • This whole “doctor from Europe is going to fix Payson” thing. Fake fake fake fake. Minus 6.

Total: -27

Realer Than a High School Girl Thinking She’s Fit to Wear a Tiara

  • $600 for a prom dress sounds about right for Richville. Plus 5.
  • Razor trying to get with Emily with no regard for her feelings about Damon feels like an apt breaking of the bro code. Plus 3.
  • Sasha’s fixation on beating Team China, while sketchy, does touch on American gymnastics stereotypes that are unfortunately true. Plus 4.
  • Prom being placed as the pinnacle of a teen’s social experience whether you like it or not. Plus 8.

Total: 20

MIOBI earned a -7 this week. Prom episodes are archetypical narratives on teen shows, and this one fell flat compared to other ones I’ve seen.


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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