I’ve been plus-size since I was 12 years old. So Lizzo’s message of body positivity and loving yourself no matter what anyone else thinks is something that really resonates with me. In her new Prime Video competition series, Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, those ideals are what power the show. From the moment the Grammy award-winning singer pops up on screen, she makes it clear that this isn’t just about landing a job as one of her backup dancers, it’s also about making sure that these talented women (and viewers) leave the show with more confidence and “Juice” than when they came in.
If you’re like me and watch a lot of competition series, you know what the formula is. And while Watch Out for the Big Grrrls does follow the expected path at times, it’s really just a fun time hanging out with your longtime pal Lizzo and some new friends.
Beginning with 13 dancers from different races and backgrounds, Lizzo announces that they are competing for a chance to join her onstage at Bonnaroo. The competition starts with the usual introduction episode where we find out everyone’s sad stories and uplifting motivations for being there. And while this is usually where I start to tune out–because when you watch enough of these shows the tear-filled origin stories start to run together–Watch Out for the Big Grrls treats every contestant as a fully-realized person and not just an archetype on some TV executive’s bingo card. By the way, did I mention that they’re all amazing dancers, so it will be no easy feat to narrow down the competition?
Where Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls sets itself apart from the rest of the genre is its spirit. Even with nicer competition series like The Voice, there’s still always an undercurrent of tension because only one person can be the winner. Lizzo has made it clear she has room for everyone if they pass muster, so there’s a supportive, understanding vibe between these women that makes it feel like something special is happening. Every single episode has moments where the dancers bond over their shared experience of existing in a world that tells them they shouldn’t want to shine. These are stories that I understood and felt in my bones.
While you don’t need to be a big girl to enjoy the show, I can’t lie: it does have a different emotional resonance if you’ve lived the same life as these women. Anyone who’s ever been othered or felt like an outsider will identify with the feelings the show exposes.
As inspiring and uplifting as the series is, it’s still a reality show, therefore the required drama does make several appearances. With some dancers more experienced than others, it doesn’t take long for groups to form. There’s also a villain, as Jasmine is painted as the bossy, scene stealer right from the start. Is Jasmine really that bad? No, of course not. But it’s a reality show and somebody has to be the bad guy.
Watch Out for the Big Grrrls’ strongest asset is Lizzo herself, as her ability to open up and relate her own experiences to everything the competitors have been through reminds the audience that underneath the confident “100 percent that bitch” exterior is a real person who’s still trying to be happy and comfortable with herself, her life in her skin and her fame.
Whether you’re a fan of Lizzo, competition series or dance, this show is worth a watch. In this dumpster fire of a world we’re currently surviving in there are very few things that bring genuine joy and happiness. Count Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrls among them.
Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls is currently available on Prime Video.