When Does Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies Take Place?

Creator Annabel Oakes explained how the prequel’s setting impacts the new original songs.

Tricia Fukuhara, Marisa Davila, Cheyenne Wells, and Ari Notartomaso in 'Grease: Rise of the Pink Lad...
Eduardo Araquel/Paramount+

If you’re a big fan of Grease, you may be curious (or even a little skeptical) about the new Paramount+ series, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladieswhich takes place before the events of the beloved 1978 film. Showrunner and creator Annabel Oakes told Entertainment Weekly that she felt the same way. “I thought, ‘Nobody needs a new Grease,’” she recalled. “The original Grease is absolutely perfect. But then, I thought about it for a second and I thought, ‘What unanswered questions do I have from Grease? ... What was up with the Pink Ladies? Were those were girl gangs real?’”

Indeed, they were. Oakes researched real-life groups similar to the Pink Ladies, telling EW that the TV medium provided an opportunity to “go a little bit deeper into what’s behind those archetypes [from the original film].” So, when does the Grease prequel series take place?

If you’re into sleuthing, you can look out for clues as you watch (like movie posters at the local drive-in scenes, for example). However, if you simply want to figure out the timeline before watching, Paramount+ has made it clear when Rise of the Pink Ladies takes place: 1954. “Before rock ‘n’ roll ruled, before the T-Birds were the coolest in the school, four fed-up outcasts dare to have fun on their own terms, sparking a moral panic that will change Rydell High forever,” the streamer adds in a press release.

The original film was set in 1958, a full four years later. If you’re a fan of the musical, you know that makes sense — because, by the time Sandy meets the Pink Ladies, they’re a well-established squad. It does mean you probably won’t be seeing the original students from Grease since they wouldn’t have even started high school by the time Rise of the Pink Ladies kicks off. However, not all of the characters are absent: Ms. McGee, who’s principal of Rydell by the time we meet her in Grease, is part of the Paramount+ series.

The earlier timeline will allow for other changes in the musical prequel, too. For example, as Oakes told EW, 1954 is when the genre of rock ‘n’ roll was still pretty new. “It’s R&B with an amp,” she explained. “We want to pay tribute to the real people who started rock ‘n’ roll — Black musicians, Latinx musicians, who were at the forefront. We want those in the show.”

In the meantime, if you want something that takes place a little closer to the people and events of Grease, there is another prequel in the works: Summer Lovin’. According to Deadline, the upcoming movie musical is all about the story behind “Summer Nights,” which saw Danny and Sandy sing about their romantic meeting on the beach — each with their own version of what happened, of course.