Nickelodeon’s Make It Pop Was Ahead of Its Time

Make It Pop was a now-forgotten Nickelodeon series that, looking back, had seemingly everything going for it. It featured a diverse cast, a setup that had worked for several of its contemporaries and a look at the K-Pop genre that was continuing to dominate airwaves. Despite this, it only lasted from 2015 to 2016.

Beyond the glitz, glam, and missed timing, Make It Pop also had several controversies including claims of appropriation and racist cast choices. It premiering before the West truly embraced K-Pop didn't help matters either. Here's a look at why the show featuring the band XO-IQ missed the mark in both its timing and execution.

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What Was Make It Pop?

Make It Pop was a Canadian-produced series that aired on Nickelodeon from 2015-2016 and, on paper, was a reasonably typical show for the network. It featured three young girls (Sun Hi, Jodi and Corki) who, after meeting a DJ, decide to form a pop music group called XO-IQ. From there, they set out to achieve fame while juggling the responsibilities of being teenage boarding school students. The series was essentially a vehicle for Nickelodeon to promote the actual music they released, sold under the XO-IQ name.

What set the somewhat generic series apart besides the music was the diversity in their cast -- featuring three Asian leads. Nickelodeon themselves had already developed a bit of a connection to K-Pop, producing a TV movie for K-Pop girl band The Wonder Girls. Nick Cannon produced the show, who remarked that America was surprisingly last to note the K-Pop musical genre's growing popularity. With the genre finally heating up in the West, the show had everything going for it to be a hit. Unfortunately, a series of derailing events kept it from lasting beyond two seasons.

Why Did Make It Pop Fail?

Starting during the show's very inception, a myriad of problems marred what could have been a massive opportunity for K-Pop's mainstream crossover in America. Two issues stemmed from fan reception, with a petition made when the show was just in its conceptual stages, arguing that its creation would water down K-Pop -- making it less authentic to appeal to American audiences. Likewise, some of the criticism once the show was released was that it really wasn't a K-Pop show and could have blended in easily with the several other musical band shows on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.

K-Pop stans were also angered because Megan Lee, the main character in the series, had broken her contract with Soul Shop Entertainment to be on the show. This was an actual K-Pop record label, with many critics seeing Lee as slighting the Asian company to work with the Western Nickelodeon.

The most significant controversy stemmed from an intentionally exclusive casting choice. Despite Make It Pop having three Asian female leads and being at least loosely based around K-Pop, there were no Asian males to be seen. A whistleblower revealed that one of the show's executives laughingly stated that there wouldn't be any Asian males in his show, with the info coming to light shortly before the show's premiere. While male Asian characters boosted the cast of the second season, the comments made by a producer on the series didn't win the show any early fans.

Visibility, diversity and authentic representation matter immensely and Make It Pop could have done better had some significant things been done differently. Perhaps due to all of this trouble, the show only lasted for two seasons, comprised of 42 episodes. Despite this, XO-IQ had numerous albums released, with one of them being a crossover album with rival group L3. Ironically, it was only after the show ended that K-Pop's massive mainstream popularity finally popped off in America, and the show likely would have had a much different fate had it been released more recently. Unfortunately, because of timing and many scandals, Nickelodeon never could make it pop with their K-Pop series.

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