'The A List' Season 1: Mia may not be your typical heroine, but you can't help rooting for her
In 'The A List', Mia starts off as a cynical, conceited girl who wants nothing more than to be queen bee. But as the show goes on, a different side of hers is revealed as she fights for survival.
In 'The A List', released on Netflix this August, the story is about the fight for the status of queen bee among two teenage girls, while they and a group of their friends are stranded on the mysterious Peregrine Island. Mia (Lisa Ambalavanar) is "the girl we've seen before", she is "the star that has to shine the brightest". She knows she is at the top of the popularity ladder and she looks at the other teenagers as if they are merely meant to serve as followers. Mia knows this and her position remains unthreatened. Later, Amber (Ellie Duckles) shows up under strange circumstances and Mia knows that Amber and she will be vying for the same things - most followers, and of course, a handsome boy's heart. The handsome boy here is Dev (Jacob Dudman) who seems unassuming at first but then we come to realize, that he has been on the island before as well along with some others in the group, only none of them can recall it clearly now.
Over the course of the story, Amber succeeds in bullying Mia and gaslighting her, managing to isolate her from the others. Amber's powers help her to do this - she can control the minds of everyone except Mia's. She can make them see things that didn't happen and can wipe their memories. In the first instance, when Mia is trying to help Amber up from an unsteady rope bridge, Amber lets go, falling into the water. This causes everyone to reprimand Mia for what she has apparently done. But we, along with Mia, are baffled. It wouldn't be until later in the season that we figure out why everyone else was quick to point their fingers at Mia.
When Mia comes to the island, she is not the typical female lead of a show aimed at teenagers. She is more Regina George ('Mean Girls' character played by Rachel McAdams) than Cady Heron (character of the same film played by Lindsay Lohan). She is not vulnerable (at least not at the outset), she is clearly a strong, independent woman. Yes, she does have her insecurities which manifest in the form of snide remarks made at others' expenses. She's also entitled, as we saw when she took the top bunk from Alex (Rosie Dwyer) with ease. In fact, we realize there isn't a match for her until Amber shows up. Amber does the same to Mia, taking the latter's top bunk from her, giving her a taste of her own medicine.
Later, when Amber asks to borrow a set of clothes from Mia, she begrudgingly gives her a pair of shirts and trousers, probably because they were in the company of Kayleigh (Savannah Baker) who was the first pawn in the game between Mia and Amber. So when the show starts, it is hard to root for Mia. Amber is seemingly nicer and even though we suspect there is more to her, Mia comes off too unfriendly and conceited. It isn't until later, when Amber's powers are known to Mia and us, and Amber manages to make it look like to the others (except Mia and the viewers) that Mia pinned her dress to the wall, covered in red paint along with a pig's mask. When Amber dumps a bucket of red paint on herself, again making it look like Mia did it, Mia is at the receiving end of the ire of her peers. This is when Mia's facade starts to break and we get to see the lonely, broken girl inside and we start to sympathize with her. Later, Mia, who is by now desperate to go home, tries to call her parents. Amber manages to get inside her head then, making her feel that her parents have forgotten her. At this point, Mia has truly given up.
But even though she has been broken down completely, Mia is still resilient. Now, it's a game of survival rather than popularity. Now, her aim is to just get someone on her side so she can find a way home. And in this way, she is very much like Regina George, who still ends up going to the prom in her best dress even after being hit by a bus. Through Mia, we get to see a different kind of hero in a show that is focused on young adults. In the beginning, she isn't Katniss from The Hunger Games - strong, yet clearly an underdog and she isn't every other teenage girl lead. Mia, is, however, someone the audience learns to love and root for. Through her trials and tribulations, Mia proves that she is worthy of your empathy and that there is more to her than her mean streak.