If you’re on TikTok, you probably know the app’s biggest star. In 2019, 15 year old dancer Charli D’Amelio began posting on the popular app. Two years and 124 million TikTok followers later, 17-year-old Charli’s fame has evolved from trending dances like “Renegade” in her teenage home of Norwalk, Connecticut to receiving brand deals with Morphe and Hollister, and being named the “Favorite Female Social Star” at the 2021 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. Her 20-year-old sister Dixie boasts a similarly huge following of 54.9 million on TikTok, along with her own various brand partnerships and a newly budding music career. As the sisters’ online presence grew, their parents, Heidi and Marc, moved the family to Los Angeles to continue building their daughter’s careers. The D’Amelio Show was released on September 3rd and is available on Hulu for fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at The D’Amelio family’s lives. As the show progresses, viewers are able to understand the harsh realities that come with a life in the public eye.
In contrast to Charli and Dixie’s online profiles, which show only a glamorous peak into their everyday lives, The D’Amelio Show tells an honest story of the D’Amelio family and their skyrocketed journey to fame. After finishing the first season, I can confidently tell you that this show provides a more realistic portrayal of life in the spotlight than anything we might see on social media.
A common theme on social media and within influencer culture is online hate. In early episodes of the show, hate comments and severe judgement take a huge toll on Charli and Dixie’s mental health. Episode 2 shows Dixie breaking down and crying in reaction to hate she received online about how she looked after leaving the gym. This scene was extremely raw and emotional; not only can you hear the struggle in her screaming and crying, but you can see a broken look in Dixie’s eyes. I can’t imagine hearing other people’s opinions on my every move. The show prompted me to realize that I really do take the small things in life for granted—like going to the gym, or going out to dinner, or shopping. Influencers and celebrities face tons of criticism in how they do normal, everyday things. Although, I also feel like this is to be expected when you are in the spotlight. Maybe this is something that Charli and Dixie must simply learn to ignore if they choose to remain as influencers.
As the season progresses, the show continues to expose some of the harsh realities that come with such a large following. Charli posted a video of her dancing to a Billie Eilish song on TikTok that she was really proud of. Nonetheless, she was absolutely torn down in the comment section. It’s awful to see how ruthless commenters can be. A website randomly predicted Charli’s death to be the day that she posted this video. Her comment section was filled with related comments saying that she should be dead, and that she should kill herself. Chilling. She then deleted the video. Charli said that “dance used to be a safe space,” but now it isn’t. Given the severity of the mental strain and public backlash the D’Amelio’s share, the beginning and end of each episode displays a mental health hotline.
The show depicts the rather specific stresses of influencer life. There is so much pressure to have a perfect social media presence. Yet, social media is misleading. It’s unrealistic. The D’Amelio Show does a good job showing how much effort goes into making what looks like a perfect life, although reality is not so perfect. With social media comes a rush of pressure, self-comparison, and a desire to make your own life look as good as the pictures you scroll through on your own feed. I definitely have compared myself to others on social media, and I can’t imagine doing so while also having millions of followers judging me at the same time.
While Charli and Dixie do live a pretty cool life, filled with private chefs and influencer parties, the show illustrates all that goes on behind the scenes. A day in Charli’s life starts at 9am—filled with meetings, photoshoots, fittings, and more meetings. Even just a casual hangout with friends has to be planned and fit into the schedule ahead of time for both sisters. With all of this scrutiny and heavy scheduling, Charli describes feeling burnt out, and like she has way too much on her plate. Dance has always been her passion, she explains in the show, but most of the time she feels too drained to do it. In episode 7 Charli ultimately hits her breaking point, and takes some time off. This leads to a lighter work schedule. Working full time at 17 years old is incredibly difficult, no matter the profession.
The final episode of the season showcases Charli’s 17th birthday party. During the party, Charli gave a speech to her family and friends about how grateful she is for them. With all of the revelations about the stress Charli has been under, viewers are left wondering whether Charli’s tears during the speech were of joy or sadness. It seemed bittersweet. Sure, fame and money are great, but do they compare to the comforts of home and a normal teenage life? Because of TikTok, Charli’s life has changed more than anyone could ever imagine, let alone at 15 years old. Personally, I hope that she can continue to grow and feel more comfortable with this new lifestyle.
The D’Amelio Show should serve as a reminder to all—what we see on social media is only a glimpse of real life. I would recommend this show to anyone who follows social media influencers. During the final episode of the show, Charli reflects, “No one wants to see real life, they want to see highlight reels.” This quote encapsulates what The D’Amelio Show aims to change—the downsides and mental health struggles that come with millions of eyes on you and your every move at such a young age.