Wildfire Review by Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media

Wildfire is a racehorse, and 18-year-old Kris Fuillo (Genevieve Cortese) is the teenager who loves him. Wildfire and Kris are on the same path -- each of them has a troubled past, and now they're both reaching for the best in themselves.

Kris' story started in juvenile hall, where she was doing time for stealing cars. A volunteer noticed her talent with horses, especially the problematic Wildfire, and helped get Kris placed with the Ritters, a family steeped in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Kris becomes Wildfire's jockey, and Wildfire turns out to be the Ritter family's best chance at saving the family-run ranch.

This show is full of strong women characters. Kris is so diligent about reaching for integrity and acting responsibly that it's hard to imagine she ever went far enough astray to get arrested in the first place. When Kris is confused, she turns to Jean Ritter (Nana Visitor), the stalwart single mom at the head of the Ritter family. Matt (Micah Alberti) and Todd (Andrew Hoeft) are Jean's sons; Pablo Betart (Greg Serano) trains the family's stable of racehorses. Kris' arch foe in love and horse racing is Dani (Nicole Tubiola), whose villainy is often tinged with her own struggle to be a better person.

Almost all of the characters have some issue in their past that shadows them in the present. Pablo was once convicted of an assault, another character may have been involved in insurance fraud, and yet another turns out to have been hiding serious financial problems. This, along with the usual love intrigues, is what makes a soap opera click, and Wildfire definitely clicks with its audience of older teens and young adults.

Unlike in The O.C., the melodramatic relationships and frequent smooching in Wildfire are tied together by a storyline that includes many lessons for teens. The themes here -- that everyone deserves another chance, that risk can have reward, that we are not defined by our pasts, and that family and friends pulling together can make a great difference -- definitely make Wildfire worth watching.

-Review by Brenda Kienan on CommonSenseMedia.org


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