Monday, September 27, 2010
TV PILOT REVIEW: ABC's "My Generation"
The critical consensus on ABC's newest drama, "My Generation," is that it's the first faux documentary series that's a drama. Despite the spontaneous heartfelt, tear-inducing moments on "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," those shows are generally considered comedies. Networks have been wary about entering the drama genre with this new storytelling format, because of the difficulty of making unreal dramatic moments seem authentic. I'm not sure why this is an issue, since we're all pretty aware that all reality shows are staged and therefore considered the first dramatic faux documentaries, but let's humor them shall we.
"My Generation" is a faux documentary about a group of high school students who agreed to have a documentarian record what they were like in high school and interview them about what they expected their life would be like 10 years from now. The documentarian's aim was to show how much ten years can change a person, how much ten years can change a person's priorities, how much of what we plan never really pans out, and most importantly, how the world events of the last decade have affected an entire generation, hence the title. The second part of their commitment to the documentary requires them to be recorded again 10 years later, and this is how much they've changed:
Anders (Julian Morris from "Pretty Little Liars")
"The Rich Kid"
Past: He was determined to marry The Brain (Brenda) even though his parents didn't approve. He was also bff's with The Jock (Rolly).
Present: He gave up the fight against his parents and married The Beauty Queen (Jackie) instead. She's the perfect trophy wife: blonde, blue eyes, and willing to pretend she's happy.
Remained the Same: He's still bff's with Rolly.
Current Obstacle: He's anxious about his ex-girlfriend Brenda's return to town.
Brenda (Daniella Alonso from "One Tree Hill")
Past: She was in love with The Rich Kid (Anders) and she wanted to become a scientist.
Present: After the Bush vs. Gore voting scandal, she changed her major to pre-law. She's now single and working as a legal aide in DC.
Remained the Same: She's still in love with Anders.
Current Obstacle: She's yet to find a new boyfriend, she just found out that Anders got married, and her mother just had a stroke, forcing her to return to town.
Jackie (Jaime King from "Gary Unmarried" and "The Class")
"The Beauty Queen"
Past: She was a cheerleader who aspired to be an actress.
Present: Her only acting gig was as a contestant on "The Bachelor" and she didn't get very far in the competition. She settled for marrying The Rich Kid (Anders).
Remained the Same: She's still picture-perfect.
Current Obstacle: It seems like she's trying to sleep with The Overachiever (Steven), because she feels trapped in her relationship. She envies his carefree lifestyle and ability to live without any obligations.
Rolly (Mehcad Brooks from "The Deep End" and "True Blood")
Past: He was the star basketball player, who was popular with the girls, and was best friends with The Rich Kid (Anders), who he lived next door to.
Present: After 9/11, he wanted to serve his country, so he joined the army and is currently stationed in Iraq. Before he left though, he fell in love with The Punk (Dawn), they got married, and now they're expecting a little girl.
Remained the Same: He's still very athletic and still bff's with Anders.
Current Obstacle: Trying to get home to his wife and soon-to-be-born daughter safely, and trying not to get jealous of her current living situation with her ex-boyfriend, The Nerd (Kenneth).
Dawn (Kelli Garner from Going the Distance and Man of the House)
Past: She was a rebellious punk/goth who was dating The Nerd (Kenneth)--for no discernible reason--and hung out with The Rock Star (The Falcon).
Present: She's waiting for her husband, The Jock (Rolly), to come home from war, and, in the mean time, living with her ex-boyfriend, Kenneth, until her baby's born. She considers him a good friend and wants him to play uncle and help her out.
Remained the Same: She still has piercings and a wild sense of style. And she still hates authority and preppy people, which include her husband's bff's wife, The Beauty Queen (Jackie).
Current Obstacle: Praying that her husband makes it home safe from Iraq.
Kenneth (Keir O'Donnell from The Wedding Crashers and When in Rome)
Past: He dated The Punk (Dawn), he was bff's with The Overachiever (Steven), and his greatest ambition was to have a big family, because he loves kids.
Present: After his dad committed suicide, he stopped being friends with The Overachiever (Steven), since it was his father's Enron involvement that bankrupted their family. He hasn't dated anyone since high school, but he teaches 4th grade, so he still gets to be around children.
Remained the Same: He's still in love with Dawn and still lets her use him...and he's still a virgin.
Current Obstacle: He just learned that he's infertile, so he'll never be able to have children of his own, making it that much harder to watch Dawn have the dream life he's always wanted and she never seemed interested in.
Steven (Michael Stahl-David from Cloverfield and "The Black Donnellys")
Past: He wanted to be as successful as his Enron-employed dad, and he was bff's with The Nerd (Kenneth).
Present: After his father's embezzlement caused his bff's father to commit suicide and his college fund was frozen by the government, he dropped out of college, moved to Hawaii, and became a womanizing, surf-loving bartender.
Remained the Same: He still measures himself by what his father is capable of, so now he doesn't think he'll amount to anything more than a two-bit criminal or a shitty dad.
Current Obstacle: He just learned that he has a 9-year-old son with The Wallflower (Caroline) and he's not prepared to take on that responsibility at all.
Caroline (newcomer Anne Son)
Past: She barely said anything to the cameras because she was always extremely quiet and shy. She also had a major crush on The Overachiever (Steven). So much so that she slept with him on prom night.
Present: She is the single mom of a 9-year-old, who happens to be Steven's son. Raising him on her own helped her grow a backbone. Now, she's a proud, protective mama. And she seems a little interested in The Nerd (Kenneth), who is her son's teacher.
Remained the Same: She's still an afterthought to Steven, who didn't even remember her name despite the fact that he had sex with her on prom night, which is practically an American tradition that everyone remembers.
Current Obstacle: Her son wants to meet his dad and she has to figure out a way to deal with her buried high school drama while making sure her son doesn't get scarred for life.
The Falcon (Sebastian Sozzi from Half Nelson and Choke)
"The Rock Star"
Past: He was disinterested with school because he knew that he wanted to move to New York and make it big in music.
Present: He DJ's all over America. He's a music producer and an entrepreneur. And he seems to have a drinking problem...unless drinking at all times of the day is normal for a music producer.
Remained the Same: He still lives in NYC and still loves music.
Current Obstacle: From next week's promo, it would seem as though he has some serious marital issues.
Summary of how they're all entangled present day: The Brain is still in love with The Rich Kid, who is unhappily married to The Beauty Queen, who is interested in The Overachiever, who has a kid with The Wallflower, who I think The Rock Star might develop a thing for eventually (because of her newfound sass) even though she seems to be interested in her son's teacher The Nerd, who is chastely shacking up with The (pregnant) Punk until her husband The Jock comes back from war.
All of these slowly unfolding secrets and the examination of the past decade's pop culture/current events make for both an awesome drama and a great anthropological study of a civilization not yet lost in time. But it may be that I'm only enjoying it, because this is a chronicle of my generation. I may not be 28, but I can tell you right now, what I expected to be at 18, I know I will not be at 28. Life did not turn out the way I expected--some of it for the best--and the tragedies (9/11) and advancements (Black president) I've lived through have changed my goals and my perspective tremendously.
This series is like "Real World" sponsored by Facebook--containing the best of both. Don't you want to know what happened to those high school sweathearts? What happened to your classmates who wanted to be famous? Which graduates decided to make their vote count or to fight for their country? What happened to that kid who thought he'd run a Fortune 500 company some day? Or what happened to that girl that never said a word?
I think the two most important topics the series covers are in Dawn and Kenneth's storylines. Dawn represents the 20something-year-old women in this generation who are married to soldiers. There hasn't been a large, young population of army wives since the 60s, and it's interesting to explore how that is affecting the evolution of the American family. Will there be another generation of fatherless children, young men who have to take their father's place as Man of the House, or unemployed, PTSD-afflicted fathers?
Then there's Kenneth's single status, which points out an interesting generational development. There have been several articles in the last decade on how our generation is too quick to marry and too quick to divorce, and how all those "fish in the sea" are now on the world wide web. Finding someone, in-person, has become increasingly difficult, and even though Kenneth, technically, always had that problem, it's interesting to see the "old-school" idea of the American dream (house, spouse, kids, and a dog) is a lot more difficult to achieve these days.
I consider this series a time capsule worth seeing.