Format: Web Series
As with most Netflix shows which pander to the ‘tween’ population of the world, the expectation with Greenhouse Academy was low to begin with. But the show, which has now been around for four years started off with a heartening story at its centre and the kind of cheesy enjoyability that would forgive its tonal flaws and downright low-level production value. Unfortunately, fourth season in, the show seems to have lost both the plot and the demographic that it was such a hit with.
Siblings Hayley and Alex cope with the loss of their astronaut mother by enrolling into the prestigious futuristic boarding school Greenhouse Academy. The students at the school are divided into two rival houses - the Eagles and the Ravens. While both struggle to fit in with their new classmate, they even get sorted into different groups. Now, they must compete with each other, but also unify the school in deciphering the mystery behind a hostage situation. Eventually, Alex and Hayley make friends, find love and rescue their mother. Season 4, however, is right in the middle of a reboot story from the last season where an extra-terrestrial virus has taken over, and the bad guys are using it as a way to extort the elite. The fact that this is an unnecessary twist into the main mystery just to continue the show is what leads to its complete redundancy.
Originally based on the Israeli television series Ha-Hamama, Greenhouse Academy deserved some credit for creating a world of accessible science fiction which had significant elements of a typical teen drama. Initially, the sentimentality and melodrama of the direction was not heightened to the extent that it takes away from the genuineness of the emotion-driven plot. It is a fantastical world, but the trials of adolescence are universal. At the end of the day, the kids still struggle with identity, connection, confidence, bullying and peer pressure. There were some specifically smart episodes dealing with genuine post-millennial quirks. In Season 4, all of this is effectively tossed out of the window for a lot of cringe-worthy and frankly illogical science which would seem laughable even to a pre-teen. In the meantime, the writers are hell-bent on concentrating on a love triangle track between Hayley, her boyfriend Daniel, and her ex-boyfriend Leo, as well as some insignificant connections around the school which essentially lack chemistry.
From the second season to the third, there were multiple cast changes and additions to the ensemble. Two core members playing the characters Brooke and Emma were also replaced. This has served as a major setback for the show.
A major drawback to watching Greenhouse Academy now is that in spite of the show being for children, it comes across as written by children as well. There is nothing in this season plot, character or tone-wise that would resonate with the average kid. If one is to forgive the tonal inconsistencies as well, the unnecessary plot twist towards the end which reveals the real villain as someone you didn’t expect (not to mention he escapes so nosedive for Season 5) is just dumb. The on-and-off relationship between the leads, and everyone else pairing up is also convenient. Of course, the science of the virus and the immunity attached herewith is silly for any adult.
Just one. I was impressed with the sensitivity with which paralysis is handled for Leo’s character. The way in which he miraculously recovers… not so much.
Music and Other Departments:
On the contrary, Greenhouse Academy reminds one of the ‘90s and 00’s low-budget sci-fi movies and shows often shown on Nickelodeon or Disney Channel. It’s production design and cinematography is laughable and the score is loud and random.
Did I Enjoy It?
No. There is nothing in this season which redeems its quality.
Would I Recommend It?
Unless you are a fan of the show and have already invested in the third season, I see no reason why you would want to continue watching Greenhouse Academy. Avoidable for everyone else. The Zenon series of movies, Phil of the Future and The Secret World of Alex Mack are better alternatives even if they’re more than a decade old.
Rating: 1/5 Stars