There is a disappointing lack of Pointer Sisters on Lifetime’s new reality series Jump!
Since the debut of Esquire’s Friday Night Tykes last year, niche sports have been trying to have a moment in the world of reality television. Not that pee-wee football is that obscure, but the formula that made FNT so successful did not exactly transfer to AMC’s Game of Arms (competitive arm wrestling) or Esquire’s The Short Game (youth golf). Lifetime tries to add to the niche sport formula with what the network has found previously successful–namely Dance Moms–in its new series Jump!, which debuts Friday at 10:00 p.m.
The sport up for examination is the world of competitive double dutch rope jumping. The individual components for making this a show are present: a visually compelling activity, the sense of “I didn’t know that was a thing,” and participants who are willing to engage in reality show shenanigans. Visually, the show tries to capture the intricacies of the sport and for the most part succeeds. The video quality does not compare to that of a show like FNT, but this isn’t necessarily a show that demands high-definition visuals. We don’t need to see the individuals frays of a rope, but the intensity of the competitors comes through clearly.
However, it is that intensity which the show does not do a great job of explaining. The show seems to be operating on assumed knowledge that the average viewer probably doesn’t have. Though the scoring conventions are explained, there is a lot of jargon thrown about and we don’t get to find out what drives most of the participants. We hear plenty from the coaches of Newark, NJ’s FloydLittle Double Dutch and Washington, D.C.’s Kandie’s Rope Twisters, but it mostly comes off as posturing and reality TV over-production. The stakes are ratcheted up to an absurd degree that it becomes a complete distraction from enjoying watching kids do something that’s really impressive to watch.
It’s silly to get too in-depth about a show that Lifetime is putting on Friday nights–it isn’t exactly a sign of confidence from the network. But I do appreciate that Jump! has made me aware that this sport is a thing and not just a throwaway reference from Frisky Dingo.1 I don’t feel compelled to watch a whole series, but you should check out at least one episode. Feel free to fast forward through the parts where people are talking and you’ll be fine.
- Get ’em, Ladybugs. ↵