Tag Archives: teen dramas

OMFG? Not so much . . . – The Top Ten “Been There, Seen That” Teen Television Cliches (Part 2 of 2)

A couple of days ago, I came up with a list of the top ten plotline cliches featured in teen-oriented television dramas.  In the first installment of this blog entry, I posted the first five of these cliches.  That list included: (1) the Pregnancy Plotline; (2) the Death of a Peripheral Character Plotline; (3) the Student / Teacher Relationship Plotline; (4) the Cheating on a Test  / Plagiarism Plotline; and, finally, (5) the “Bad Influence” Plotline.

This installment will focus on the following popular Teen Television Cliches: (1) the Love Triangle; (2) the Summer in Europe; (3) the Love / Hate Relationship; (4) the School Ski Trip; and, of course (5) the Prom.  So, without further adieu, what do you say we take off our creative thinking caps, embrace conformity, and get started?

1) “Can’t we all just . . . have a threesome, instead?” – The Love Triangle Plotline

The Storyline:  Girl meets boy.  Boy is attractive. 

Boy is also nice and sweet, albeit a tad boring (and, sometimes, a bit of a whiny b*tch). 

Or, conversely, Boy is total douche; 

but Girl’s parents love him;

He looks “good on paper.”

and Boy is sure to make Girl a very wealthy, but very bored, housewife, some time in the not-so-distant future, if she plays her cards right.

But then . . . Other Boy magically appears.

Unlike the original Boy, Other Boy is a little dangerous . . .

Maybe he’s from the wrong side of the proverbial “tracks” . . .

Or, perhaps he has a reputation for being a bit of male slut . . .

 . . . or a criminal.

 Or maybe he has a bit of a mean streak, so Girl isn’t sure she can really trust him.

But there is just something about the way Other Boy makes Girl feel . . .

She smiles and laughs more when she’s around him. 

(Click the internal link to watch.)

He makes her more fun!

And Other Boy continues to believe in Girl, and support her, long after everyone else has seemingly abandoned her (including the original Boy).

So, what’s a Girl to do, when she wants them both?

Who does she choose?  Well, that depends on the season . . . the Television Season, that is . . .

Examples: Joey, Pacey, and Dawson (Dawson’s Creek); Veronica, Logan, and Duncan (Veronica Mars); Marissa, Ryan, and Luke (The O.C.); Elena, Damon, and Stefan (The Vampire Diaries); Rory, Jesse, and Dean (Gilmore Girls); Blair, Chuck, and Nate (Gossip Girl); Peyton, Lucas, and Nate (One Tree Hill); Emma, Sean, and Peter (Degrassi: The Next Generation); Felicity, Ben, and Noel (Felicity); Casey, Cappie, and Evan (Greek); Lyla, Tim, and Jason (Friday Night Lights)

Why it’s a cliche?  Three words (One of them is a contraction).  Because . . . It’s . . . AWESOME!

When it comes to successful teen drama plotlines, The Love Triangle, is a surefire WIN!  After all, what girl wouldn’t want to have two totally hot guys, who are complete opposites of one another fighting over her!  Aside from allowing female fans to vicariously fulfill their deepest fantasies, Love Triangles provide the added benefit of making Teen Television watching a TEAM SPORT!  Boys have football and basketball.  Girls have  THIS . . .

Yes, boys and girls, choosing sides in a Love Triangle War is SERIOUS business!  (Girls have been shot over WAY less!)  Don’t believe me?  Check out the sheer intensity of THESE fan-fueled debates  . . .

About Blair, Chuck and Nate

About Elena, Damon, and Stefan

About Felicity, Ben, and Noel . . .

(The above video debate between these two twenty-somethings kind of goes off the rails, after the first five minutes.  But I love their obvious enthusiasm for a show that’s been off the air now for nearly a decade!  I also love their accents . . . and the very impressive “Portrait of Ben” one of them created.  Scott Speedman, himself, would be proud!)

2) “Go to Europe . . . because no one could possibly ‘find themselves’ in the States!”  – The Summer in Europe Plotline

“When in France, do as the French do . . . French kiss!”

(Here we go again!  Internal link clicking time!)

The Storyline: It’s close to the end of the Season.  Our female protagonist’s life is a mess!  It’s just jam packed with unresolved love triangles, family issues, and massive blowout fights with former friends.  And what better way is there to deal with all of your problems, than to run away from them?  So, our female protagonist jaunts off to Europe (usually Paris), leaving pining boys and cliffhangers in her wake . . .

 Once there, our female protagonist sees the sights . . .

and miraculously FINDS HERSELF!  When she comes back, she’s a COMPLETELY different person, than when she left.  Who knows?  She might even have a new completely random, doesn’t belong on the show at all boyfriend!

Examples: Serena and Blair (Gossip Girl); Joey Potter (Dawson’s Creek); Brenda and Donna (90210); Holly (What I Like About You)

Why it’s a Cliche?  The main character’s temporary departure from his or her home base is a great way to bring about a Teen Television Drama’s summer hiatus.  If us fans are forced to spend an ENTIRE summer away from our beloved gang of characters, at least we can sleep better knowing that they aren’t hanging out with one another EITHER!  Plus, filming a scene or two “across the pond” makes for a great excuse for the show’s writers to say to their producer, “I’d like an all expense paid European vacation, please.  What!  It’s for THE SHOW!”

A summer in another country is also a pretty good excuse to suddenly change the entire personality and demeanor of a character, without any rational explanation whatsoever .  . .

“I got my new girlfriend and a frontal lobe lobotomy in Prague.  Doesn’t everybody?

3) “He Loves Me  . . . He Hates My Guts . . . He Loves Me . . .” – The Love/ Hate Relationship Plotline

The Storyline: He’s a playboy, and a real ladies man.  But he comes across as mean, and kind of shallow.  She’s a Type A personality, who comes across as cold and a bit uptight. 

They butt heads from the moment they first appear on screen together.  They fight, and call eachother names.  They insult one another, and play nasty tricks on eachother. 

But there is a passion boiling beneath the surface, that both he and she are trying desperately to deny. 

At the time, he and she are both involved with other people.  Their significant others notice the sexual tension laced beneath their supposed hatred, and try in vain to ignore it.  But the tension only grows.  Jealous and longing looks become prevalent.  Lingering touches, and moments of out-of-character “niceness,” between the two make each member of the pair begin to question their feelings. 

The guy in this scenario typically recognizes his feelings for her first. 

(You know the drill . . .)

But he usually keeps this to himself, out of fear of being ridiculed by the new object of his desires.  Then the two are placed in a dramatic situation.  Suddenly their mutual passion for one another overtakes them.  And they both give in to their desires.

Examples: Joey and Pacey (Dawson’s Creek); Buffy and Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Veronica and Logan (Veronica Mars); Seth and Summer (The O.C. – sort of . . . well . . . she hated him); Elena and Damon (The Vampire Diaries); Blair and Chuck (Gossip Girl)

Why it’s a Cliche?  You know how everyone always talks about how hot Makeup Sex is?  A couple fights, and then they make up.  All that angst and sexual energy, built up from all that red-faced arguing, is just kindling for the inevitable Orgasmic Fire of “Getting Back Together.”  And THAT’S from a fight that might last a day!  You can just imagine how hot Makeup Sex would be if the couple fought nonstop for TWO SEASONS!

4) “When the temperatures get COLD, the action gets HOT!” – The Ski Trip Plotline

The Storyline:  I’m going to be honest, this one was less of a “storyline” and more of a “plot convention.”  (Hey!  YOU try to come up with ten of these things . . . It’s not as easy as it looks.)  But did you ever notice how virtually EVERY teen drama features at least one ski trip?  BIG THINGS always happen on ski trips too!  People get drunk, get laid, get raped, or cheat on their significant other!   And someone ALWAYS hurts their foot, and conveniently can’t ski!

Examples:

Dawson’s Creek:

Jenn hurts her foot, gets wasted, and almost screws Gay Jack. 

Pacey and Joey do it for the first time!

Boy Meets World:

Cory hurts his foot too!  And makes out with Linda Cardellini!

Other fabulous shows featuring wild and crazy teen ski trips include Degrassi: Next Generation (Darcy gets date raped), and What I Like About You (Holly comes to terms with her feelings for Vince).

Precisely NONE of these characters were ever shown ACTUALLY skiing . . .

Why it’s a Cliche?  There’s just something about being away from home and your parents . . . about sleeping in a log cabin, right next to the fire.  You relax.  You let your guard down.  You get a little slutty and make bad choices.  (Except in the case of Pacey and Joey . . . that choice was GOOD!)  Plus, it’s WAY cheaper to film on location in some fake ski lodge than say . . . taking your entire cast and crew to Europe.

5) “Question:  What happened at Prom?  Answer: EVERYTHING!” – The Prom Plotline

The Storyline: It’s the event of the WHOLE season!  The entire cast will be in attendance!  But not everybody is going with the person they WANT to be going with. 

 A couple will break up.  A couple will get back together. 

Someone will win prom queen. 

 

Someone’s heart will be broken. 

A couple will finally do it. 

Another couple will ALMOST do it, but decide to wait . . . Oh, and someone will get wasted and make an ass of herself.

Examples: Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., 90210, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl

Why it’s a Cliche?  For every high school girl, the Prom is the culminating social event of her entire pre-college academic career.  Even the most jaded of high school students (and I, myself, was already pretty jaded by that time) can’t help but dream of having the perfect dress, the perfect limo, the perfect Prom date, and the perfect slow dance.  For most of us, with all that build up and preparation, Prom itself ends up being pretty anti-climactic.  (The Post Prom Beach Trip, on the other hand . . . now, THAT ROCKED!).  But if we CAN’T have the perfect Prom, at least we can get the joy of seeing our television friends experience it for us.

So, there you have it – Ten Trashtastic Teen Television Cliches for your viewing pleasure!  Doesn’t it all make you feel OLD?

 

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Filed under 90210, Boy Meets World, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Felicity, Gossip Girl, Greek, nostalgia, teen dramas, Television Super Couples, The O.C., The Vampire Diaries, Top Ten Lists, Veronica Mars, What I Like About You

OMFG? Not so much . . . – The Top Ten “Been There, Seen That” Teen Television Cliches (Part 1 of 2)

It is probably no secret to anyone who has ever stopped by this blog before (or even just examined the above “collage”), that I am a sucker for Trash-tastic Teen Television.  I have been a fan of these types of shows since the age of eight.  That was when I first decided that I desperately wanted to be a teen.  And I have no doubt that I will remain a fan, long after I have cruised past “old age,” and am forced to squint through my coke bottle glasses, and smile through my dentures, at the sight of some pipsqueaks (who bear a suspicious resemblance to my grandkids) attending prom on my small screen.

“That is one hot threesome.  Oh, when I think back to my first threesome . . . ah memories!”

Having been around the “teenage television” block quite a bit since my eighth birthday, I have come to notice a few patterns among my favorite teen dramas.  Over the years, I have watched in wonder, as certain storylines traveled across decades,  time zones, and networks, just to reach my lowly television set, over and over (and over and over) again . . .  So I’ve decided to investigate these storylines, in hopes of FINALLY figuring out what makes them so “gosh darn special!”

1) “Hit me with a baby, one more time!” – The Pregnancy Scare and/or Actual Pregnancy Plotline

The Storyline: Our teen female protagonist has sex . . . usually for the first time.  Her partner is either a long, LONG time boyfriend, with whom she has been discussing doing the deed for the ENTIRE season . . .

 Or, conversely, he is a one night-stand, who she (a) barely knows; or (b) seemingly despises.  There is never any in between. 

In the very next scene, our protagonist learns that she has missed her period.  She is FLIPPING THE F&CK OUT!

She keeps her discovery a secret from everyone, except for her best friend.  And the best friend is inevitably the one who convinces the protagonist to take the pregnancy test.

Regardless of the pregnancy test’s ultimate result, inevitably there comes a time when our protagonist has to have “The Discussion” with “The Maybe Baby Daddy.” 

 Sometimes, he takes it well . .  . usually, he doesn’t . . . at least, not at first.

Now, if the protagonist ends up not being pregnant . . . well then . . . THAT’S IT!  Our protagonist is RELIEVED!  She feels brand NEW!  She’s CHANGED!

She will pretend this whole little sweeps week episode never happened (or, in the case of Manny Santos, and Degrassi, the U.S. will pretend this whole episode never happened . . . by NOT AIRING IT, until about 3 years after it was actually filmed).  However, if our protagonist IS pregnant . . . we get stuck with a baby storyline for ALL ETERNITY (or at least it will seem that way  . . .)!

Examples: Brenda on 90210 (not actually pregnant); Andrea on 90210 (actually pregnant / had baby / raised baby); Summer on The O.C. (not actually pregnant); Manny on Degrassi: The Next Generation (actually pregnant / had abortion); Liberty on Degrassi: The Next Generation (pregnant / had baby / gave baby up for adoption); Emma on Degrassi: The Next Generation (not actually pregnant / feeling left out because EVERYONE else on her show actually was); Blair on Gossip Girl (not actually pregnant);  Georgina on Gossip Girl (To Be Determined?); Amy on Secret Life of the American Teenager (actually pregnant / had baby / is raising baby); Quinn on Glee (actually pregnant / had baby / gave baby up for adoption).

Why it’s a cliche?

“Hey there, boys and girls!  I’ve got a message for you!  Premarital sex is BAAAAAAAAD!”

Teen television programs tend to be written by adults.  And even the most hip and forward thinking adults, don’t like to think about their 15-year old kids f*c*ing eachother’s brains out like bunny rabbits on acid. 

So they ever so subtly try to scare the crap out of their kids, by showing them how having sex once can RUIN THEIR LIVES FOREVER!  It doesn’t really work . . .

This storyline is SO overdone that precisely NO ONE is shocked or dismayed by the prospect of a female protagonist  . . . missing her period.  Hey writers, want to REALLY scare your kids celibate?  Give your television characters crabs. 

That will permanently glue your teen’s legs shut for sure!

2) “OH NO!  You killed .  . . what’s his name again?” – The Death of the Peripheral Character Plotline

 

The Storyline:  There is this recurring character on your favorite show that has becoming increasingly annoying, of late. 

You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you just think the character really sucks. 

And you can’t wait for him or her to leave your television screen ALONE! 

You spend WAY too much time bashing this minor character on online message boards, and in snarky recaps of the show.  In those messages, you may or may not beg the show’s writers for said character’s untimely demise. 

Then the character actually DIES. 

And you’re secretly happy that you got what you wanted. 

But NOW you’re convinced you are very sh*tty person.  Because, REALLY, what kind of nice, normal person is HAPPY when someone dies, real or fake?  Even though very few of the characters on your show seemed to like this character any more than you did, while he was alive, they all make a big show of mourning and /or having a funeral for him or her.  

Your favorite character will inevitably give the eulogy for this character.  And it will be all warm, and fuzzy, and heartfelt . . . and, of course, totally depressing. 

And YOU will surprise yourself by crying like a baby when you watch it (probably out of guilt for openly hating the character so much . . . or . . .  maybe the scene just reminds you of a dead relative).  After the episode airs, the show’s entire cast will COMPLETELY forget that this dead character ever existed . . .

Examples: Scott on 90210, Abby on Dawson’s Creek; Rick on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Johnny on The O.C., that dude Serena supposedly “killed” on Gossip Girl, Percy and Reed on Grey’s Anatomy (not technically a teen show, but still . . .), Vicki on The Vampire Diaries

Why it’s a cliche?  The “Very Special” Dead Person episode of any teen show is sure to be a ratings grabber, no matter how unlikeable the soon-to-be dead character was before he met his demise.  Plus, killing any character on their show (even if it’s just a one-episode guest star) allows producers to run that oh-so-original . . . “SOMEBODY WILL DIE!” promo the week before their episode airs, and you know how ALL producers LOVE that promo! 

3) “Hot for Teacher!” – The Inappropriate Student / Teacher Relationship Plotline

The Storyline:  The protagonist has a crush on his or her very attractive (yet obviously lonely, and very desperate), teacher. 

The teacher makes a lame ass attempt to rebuff the protagonists affections, but fails miserably. 

Soon the student and the teacher are doing the horizontal mambo together in secret. 

Someone always finds out.  Someone always exposes them for the sluts they both are. 

It always ends badly . . .

Examples: Pacey and Miss Jacobs on Dawson’s Creek, Paige and Mr. O on Degrassi: The Next Generation, Dan and Miss Carr on Gossip Girl, Aria and Mr. Fitz on Pretty Little Liars

Why it’s a cliche?  Forbidden love is HOT!  And cougars are all the rage!  Plus, who HASN’T had a crush on one of their teachers and indulged in a naughty fantasy, or two (or twenty) involving same? 

 Mine was my freshman history teacher in high school.  He was pretty young, compared to most of my teachers at that time . . . probably in his mid-to-late twenties . . . and single.  Actually, he kind of looked like this . . .

 . . . only he was a wee bit older . . . and he generally wore shirts (unfortunately).  Coincidentally, Mr. Devlin, if your reading this . . . 😉

4) “Cheaters never win, and winners never . . . whatever.” – The Cheating on a Test / Plagiarism Plotline

Storyline: The protagonist REALLY needs to pass a particular test or ace a certain paper.  He or she is under a lot of external pressure to do so. 

 But something happens, so that he or she doesn’t have time to do the appropriate amount of studying and /or research.  He or she is tempted, upon receiving answers to the test or a pre-written paper, to . . . CHEAT!

The protagonist struggles with whether or not to enter into the dark evil world of “school crime,” but ultimately does. 

Because the character cheated, he or she does so well on the test or paper that his teacher inevitably wants to enter him or her in some national competition of some sort related to the aforementioned paper or test.  Smothered by guilt, the character eventually comes clean.  He or she then gets in trouble . . . 

But not in nearly as much trouble as the character would, if caught, in . . . say . . . the REAL WORLD . . .

“It can’t possibly be worse than when I got that awful haircut . . .”

Examples: Felicity on Felicity, Andie on Dawson’s Creek, Rusty on Greek, Lindsay and Daniel on Freaks and Geeks, Spencer on Pretty Little Liars

Why it’s a cliche?  One word:  schadenfreude.  You see, here’s the thing . . . every teen show has that one uptight overachieving character, who always gets A’s, is super judgmental of all of her “less brilliant” friends, and never seems to do anything wrong.  Admit it!  It’s kind of fun to see tight asses like that crack under the pressure . . .

Make that VERY fun!

5) “I’m gonna do real bad things to you .  . . and make you DO real bad things!”  – The “Bad Influence” Plotline

The Storyline: Our protagonist is going through kind of a “rough patch” in his or her life.  He or she is therefore looking to let loose, and have some sort of emotional and/or physical release.  In walks a character who is fun, adventurous, and more than a little dangerous. 

Our protagonist starts hanging out with the “dangerous” character a lot. 

(Click the internal link to watch!)

Before you know it, he or she is behaving just like the “dangerous” character, and getting into all sorts of trouble as a result.   

 The protagonists other friends are jealous of all the fun their typically boring protagonist is now having.  But they are also worried.  Inevitably, the moment comes when protagonist is about to get into a cr*p load of trouble with the “dangerous” character. 

 The friends stage an intervention of sorts. 

It works!

 The dangerous character rides away on the evil broomstick by which it came.  All is, once again, right (and boring) with the world . . .

Examples: Abby influencing Jen on Dawson’s Creek, Georgina influencing Serena on Gossip Girl, Damon influencing Caroline on The Vampire Diaries, “The Freaks” influencing Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks, that character Paul Wesley played on Everwood influencing Hannah on Everwood, that character Paul Wesley played on The O.C. influencing Ryan and Seth on The O.C.

Why it’s a cliche?  Everybody’s got a dark side.  Secretly, we all want to be a little “bad” sometimes.  The good news is that we can do it safely and vicariously, by watching our favorite “good” television characters “go bad,” albeit temporarily.  They have fun while doing it . . . and so do we, at least until their lame friends bring them back to earth.

Well, that’s all the teen television cliches I have for tonight.  But please tune in tomorrow, when I tackle love triangles, love-hate relationships, prom, the ever enlightening “trip to Europe,” and, of course, the dreaded ski trip  .  . .

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Filed under Freaks and Geeks, Glee, Gossip Girl, Greek, Pretty Little Liars, The O.C., The Vampire Diaries, Top Ten Lists

Create Your Dream Cast: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

 

One of my favorite reads of 2009 was Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.  The novel follows Katniss Everdeen, a strong willed 16-year old girl, who is forced to take part in a nationally televised fight-to-the-death survival competition against 23 other teenagers in the post-apocalyptic fictional nation of Panem.  From page 1, The Hunger Games is the quintessential page turner.  It transports you into another world and keeps you there, long after you’ve completed the book.

Collins does not discriminate, and there is something here for all ages, sexes, and book preferences: a bunch of knock-down drag-out, surprisingly gory, fights for the action buffs, a romantic triangle for the lovers, political intrigue for the Tom Clancy and David Baldacci inclined, a futuristic otherworld for the fantasy and sci fi geeks, adolescent angst for the teens, dry humor for the comedy lovers, and tons of thinly veiled pop culture references and digs at reality television for entertainment addicts.

The Hunger Games is actually the first novel of a trilogy series.  Its also-excellent sequel, Catching Fire, is already a bestseller.  The third book of the series, Mockingjay is due out August 24, 2010.  However, the novel is already available for pre-order on Amazon.  (Only $8.50 for a hardcover!  Way cheap!)

When I learned that Lionsgate Entertainment had purchased the film rights to The Hunger Games, and the Suzanne Collins, herself, was hired to write the script, I was excited and highly intrigued.  This book has surefire blockbuster written all over it!  The news got me to thinking about who they were going to cast for the major roles in this film — and, more importantly, who I would cast if I were making this film . . .

So, without further adieu, here are my casting pics for Lionsgate Entertainment’s adaptation of The Hunger Games:

Katniss Everdeen

My pick: Ellen Page

Why?  Although technically a bit older than Katniss (aren’t they all?), Page has the physical look of the character, as well as Katniss’ tough exterior and inner vulnerability.  She also brings to the table a recognizable name that will inevitably bring big box office bucks to the film.  Page definitely has the acting chops for this complex and meaty role.  Plus, if the X Men films, Whip It, and the ultra-dark indie film Hard Candy are any indication, she also possesses the strength and deft to pull off some fairly hardcore stunts, which may be necessary, given the action aspects of this novel.

Peeta Mellark

My pick: Sterling Knight

Why?  Like Page, Knight definitely looks the part here.  As the attractive and inherently likeable boy-next-door type, who may or may not be completely trust worthy, the actor who plays Peeta must appear both sweet and a tad sly.  I think Knight has what it takes to be both.  Best known for his role as Chad Dylan Cooper in Disney Channel’s tween sitcom Sonny with a Chance, Knight has already shown himself capable of playing the male lead in a love/hate type relationship.  I think he and Ellen Page would play off one another well, with respect to the romance aspects of this tale.  

As far as action scenes, I’m not sure whether Knight has what it takes, as I’ve never seen him act in any particularly physical roles.   Then again, Peeta always struck me as kind of a wimp (sorry girls).  So, athleticism may not be entirely necessary here . . .

Gale Hawthorne

My pick: Taylor Lautner

 

Why?  This one may be a bit of a stretch, seeing as Lautner is such a big name in Hollywood now, and Gale’s role in The Hunger Games is a relatively small one.  (Gale plays a much bigger part in The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, however).  And yet, I can’t help but think Lautner was made for this role!  Dark complextion, killer abs, physical prowess, the ability to brood and pine over unrequited love, all the while being all-manly / hunting stuff . . . who could ask for a better Gale than Lautner?  Plus, we all know how much Taylor loves his love triangles . . .

Haymitch Abernathy

My pick: James Gandolfini

Why?  Yeah, I know, this is also a bit of wishful thinking on my part . . .  But I LOVE my Gandolfini!  Plus, I think he would be awesome as this gruff and hard-drinking, yet wise and loyal, former Games winner and mentor to Katniss and Peeta.  And, it’s my cast, dammit!  So, I’ll hire who I want!

Effie Trinket

My pick: Kristin Chenoweth

Why?  Chenoweth has the sophisticated look, chirpy ebullience, and high-pitched (at-times grating) speaking voice to pull off District 12’s well-meaning, but slightly haughty, PR representative, Effie Trinket.  I’ll cast her in this role on one condition . . .  she MUST sing at least once during the film!

Cinna

My pick: Adam Lambert

Why?  Lambert has the guy-liner, fashion sense, natural flamboyance, and addiction to hair dye necessary to pull off Katniss’ personal stylist for the Games.  Granted, I’m not really sure Lambert has any acting experience (unless you count those daytime talk show interviews).  However, Cinna never struck me as a particularly complex role.  So, I think Adam could pull it off.  Plus, those American Idol fans would go wild!

Primrose Everdeen

My pick? Elle Fanning (Dakota’s little sister)

Why?  Honestly, I don’t have much to say here.  The role calls for a fair-haired and cherubic pre-teen to play Katniss’ little sister.  I am pretty sure there is actually a law in Hollywood that states that whenever a role like this is created, a Fanning must be cast in it.  So, here we are . . .

Mrs. Everdeen

My pick: Toni Collette

Why?  The role calls for someone who is believable as the slightly unstable and depressive herbalist mother of both dark-haired tomboy, Katniss, and girly blonde, Primrose.  I think Collette fits in quite nicely here . . .

Well, there you have it.  Now, it’s your turn.  Hop on to that casting couch (no pun intended), and pick your favorites.  Who knows?  Lionsgate Entertainment just might be listening . . .

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Filed under casting, Novel, The Hunger Games

Go Greek! (It’s Guilt Free!)

Here is yet another blog post where I try to use my admittedly limited influence as a blogger to convince you to watch a fun-filled and entertaining television show that you may be missing because (a) it is not found through the usual channels (i.e. ABC, NBC, Fox, CW, HBO etc.); and (b) it is not particularly well advertised.  Now in its third season, Greek airs at 10 p.m. on ABC Family (during the last hour before the channel goes all scary religious).

If you’ve ever read this blog before, you probably know by now that I LOVE my one-hour high school teen dramas.  However, on occasion, I do experience some feelings of guilt and generalized perviness for crushing on / drooling over the 16-year-old male characters featured in them (the fact that some of these characters are played by actors who are actually my age helps a little bit, but not enough . . .).  Therefore, I was understandably pleased to find Greek, an hour-long dramedy with all the relationship drama, good humor, and soapy goodness of a teen show, but with characters that are universally LEGAL!  (A majority of the “Greeksters” are now in their senior year of college.)

Most of us are even old enough to drink without fake IDs!  Pretty cool, right?

Like Freaks and Geeks, a show I discussed in an earlier posting, Greek features, as its main characters, an older sister and her socially awkward, slightly nerdy, younger brother.  In the Pilot episode,  older sister Casey is a junior at the fictional Cyprus Rhodes University and an up-and-comer in her elite sorority, Zeta Beta Zeta.  She fears that the entrance of her geeky brother, Rusty, into the school as a freshman will cramp her style and spoil her painstakingly crafted reputation.

On the surface, Casey may look like the typical 80’s movie cliche, a pretty, popular, and vapid sorority girl.  And, yes, Casey is pretty and popular.  However, she is also smart, snarky, goofy, and insecure enough to be a truly likeable and relateable character.  Plus, Casey and her friends make up only half  of the show.  Rusty’s attempts to juggle a full load of engineering classes with his fraternity duties as a Kappa Tau, AND maintain a romantic relationship, add an entirely distinct and quirky level to an already enjoyable hour.  Rusty’s best friend, the uber religious and ultra nerdy, Dale, is, surprisingly, one of the show’s funniest, most unique, and best-written characters.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a teen/young adult dramedy without a love triangle.  Throughout the series we root for Casey, as she struggles to choose between wisecracking slacker Cappie, and spoiled rich kid Evan.  The fact that these two guys just so happen to be presidents of rival fraternities only serves to exacerbate matters (and make them more fun!)

Sure, Greek isn’t exactly the most realistic portrayal of the college experience (for that, Netflix the DVD for the too-soon-canceled Undeclared).  Even the hard-boozing KT frat guys look just a tad too pretty and well-dressed to be cash-strapped college students.  Plus, this is ABC Family, so there is not nearly as much sex and shirtlessness as there should be for a college show.  Nevertheless, Greek will undoubtedly  bring you back to a time in your life when your most pressing issue was whether the boy you liked would ask you to formal.  For that reason, it is definitely worth a try . . .

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Freaks and Geeks – The Best Show You Probably DIDN’T Watch (and neither did I), But We Should Have

Before Katherine Heigl got Knocked Up, before Jason Segel spent an entire Hawaiian vacation Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and before Steve Carell endured the ignominious label of The 40-Year Old Virgin, there was a funny New Yorker named Judd Apatow, and a little  television show called Freaks and Geeks.

Although the show aired roughly ten years ago, I didn’t come across it until fairly recently.  I was looking for a prospective candidate to fill my ever-dwindling Netflix queue, at the timeThe show was described as a “period piece” of sorts, in that it took place at a Michigan high school during the 1980-81 school year. 

Now, as you can probably tell from this blog, I LOVE my high school dramedys.  Plus, I have always been a bit obsessed with the ’80s as a decade, despite the fact that I was itty bitty during most of it.  (The Breakfast Club was the first R-rated film my mother let me watch on video.  It is still one of my favorite movies of all time.)  So, I figured this was right up my alley.

The Pilot episode opens with a clichéd jock and his clichéd cheerleader girlfriend engaging in a vapid discussion about the nature of their relationship, while cuddling on the bleachers at the high school football field.  Within moments, the camera pans beneath the bleachers to reveal the show’s real stars: a group of stoners smoking weed, and a trio of nerds discussing Star Wars.  I was instantly hooked.

The series follows the lives of Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini of ER), a shy overachieving mathlete who becomes disillusioned with her dull life and quickly falls in with a “bad crowd,” and her younger brother, Sam (John Francis Daley of Bones), a good humored and intelligent, but diminutive and undeveloped (his voice still hasn’t changed) high school freshman.  Lindsay hangs with the titular Freaks of the show, played by James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen (all of whom have gone on to become regular staples in Judd Apatow films).  Sam’s friends comprise the Geeks, who are played by Sam Levine and Martin Starr. 

Rather than creating a glossy and stylized version of high school, as most teen dramas tend to do, Freaks and Geeks portrayed a more realistic version of the teen years, one rife with awkwardness, discomfort, growth spurts and acne.  Unlike most teen shows airing during that time, the actors here actually looked like real teenagers (even Cardellini, despite the fact that she was already 25 when the show started taping).  They even talked like real teenagers — their speech rife with the trademark inarticulate umms and uhhs that characterize “teenspeak” (and, on occasion, my own “speak”).

Freaks and Geeks  stood out from other teen television shows, in that it was primarily NOT about romance.  The “couples” in the show weren’t portrayed as soul mates, star-crossed lovers, or adults trapped in young bodies.  Instead, the Weirs’ respective relationships much more closely resembled those of  my limited high school dating experience.  Namely, they were frightening and cringe-inducingly uncomfortable. 

I love, for example, how Lindsay’s “love interest,” Nick (Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother), is not smooth or cool at all.  In fact, he is kind of smothery and more than a tad creepy at times.  Lindsay generally sticks with him because he is part of her social circle, and because she wants to have a boyfriend.  Unforunately, I too have been there . . .

Freaks and Geeks also took risks with its storylines.  One episode dealt with a hermaphodite student in a way that was surprisingly tasteful and heartfelt.  In another episode, viewers spent a good deal of time watching the Geeks watch a pornographic film.

So, if your Netflix queue has been looking a bit anorexic lately, and you are in need of some quality programming, I highly recommend Freaks and Geeks.

Oh, and did I mention James Franco looks really hot in it?

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