A star rating of 1 out of 5.

Based on YA novel Save Me by German author Mona Kasten, Prime Video's Maxton Hall adaptation is subtitled The World Between Us, alluding to the class wars that arise in the show's snobby high school setting. But the truth is that there's a world between Maxton Hall and the other teen shows that it tries to emulate, falling far short of the standard set by Gossip Girl, Élite, and yes, even the Gossip Girl reboot.


The first scene introduces us to an insufferable, ab-tastic douchebag named James Beaufort (Damian Hardung), who skates through life on a perfectly sculpted abdomen and daddy's money. Life is easy for James, or so we're led to believe, because there are already hints that being rich and beautiful and deemed perfect by society may not be all it's cracked up to be.

But before you shed a tear for James, episode 1 then shifts its focus onto the arrival of scholarship student Ruby Bell (Harriet Herbig-Matten), who's constantly forced to prove herself in a world that favours the privileged.

When Ruby stumbles across a dangerous secret at Maxton Hall, James casually tries to buy her off, knowing how much she needs the money. But Ruby refuses to give in – that is until sparks fly between this (not so) unlikely pair and they're both tempted to give into something else… their DESIRE!

Ruby and James sitting next to one another, looking lovingly into one another's eyes.
Harriet Herbig-Matten as Ruby Bell and Damian Hardung as James Beaufort in Maxton Hall. Prime Video

The first episode ticks off about every cliche you could expect and then some. Do-gooder heroine? Check. Rich bad boy who's nicer than he seems? Check. Improbable chemistry that cuts through the class divide because they're both just so damn hot and see something in each other that no one else can? Check, well, sort of.

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Maxton Hall's tagline is 'Our favourite subject: their chemistry', yet the so-called chemistry between James and Ruby isn't going to trouble the likes of Élite anytime soon.

The acting is wooden across the board, to the point where it's hard to differentiate between each performance and the actual wood used to build Maxton Hall. Some of the supporting cast fare a tad better, but even the most talented actors would struggle to bring such hackneyed writing to life with any actual flair.

Case in point: the philosophy class debates that try to sound smarter than they are or the, frankly, bizarre metaphors Ruby uses in her narration. Skip to the end of episode one for a "chained elephant" monologue that defies belief.

Given all this, it might come as a surprise to hear that Maxton Hall was created and written by Daphne Ferraro, a writer who previously worked on Dark, Netflix's twisty trans-dimensional masterpiece. The two shows couldn't be further apart, which isn't to say that teen high school dramas can't be layered and well-written too. Recent YA hits like Young Royals and even Red, White & Royal Blue have mined far more interesting material out of class and cultural divides in the past few years, just to name a few.

Episode 2 of Maxton Hall tries to deepen the story somewhat by switching the perspective over to James, revealing more about his inner life than Ruby could possibly know at this point via flashbacks and narration of his own. Unfortunately, there's nothing new here that we haven't seen or heard before, and that's still the case even with what could have been a fresh new German perspective on the genre.

James standing close to Ruby with his hands placed on her upper arms
Damian Hardung as James Beaufort and Harriet Herbig-Matten as Ruby Bell in Maxton Hall. Prime Video

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with cliches on this scale if there's something else going on to draw you in, something smarter. Teen efforts like Riverdale, for example, thrive by toying around with convention, but there's little to recommend in this case when the writing and acting is so lifeless.

While there is something to be said for mindless escapism, you're actually much better off watching older teen fare like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars instead. Those shows helped establish the tropes this one borrows from so readily, and with far more charisma.

The quote "Someone like you can’t touch people like us" is directed towards Ruby in the show at one point, but the same could also be said for Maxton Hall in comparison to all the other teen shows that came before it.

All six episodes of Maxton Hall — The World Between Us are available to stream now. Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime Video and pay £8.99 a month after that.


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