Take Me to the Pilots '10: ABC's 'My Generation'
[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "My Generation," ABC
The Pitch: "Do you know the British '7 Up' series?" "No." "Ummm... Good. Cuz this isn't like that. It's like... ummm... 'The Real World: The Scripted Series.'" "Is this suddenly 2002? If so? SOLD!" [Honestly, I don't have a clue either how this one was ordered to series to ABC, or why ABC brass went to the upfronts in May determined to pimp "My Generation" as a network-defining breakthrough.]
Quick Response: Pretty Stepford 20-somethings natter on and on to the camera portentously about their life goals, romantic obstacles and difficulties finding happiness? Dear Lord. It's "E-Harmony Commercial: The Series." Yes. "My Generation" is just that smarmy and self-satisfied. It's unfortunate that with nine major characters introduced in 44 minutes, there wasn't a single character I liked or could relate to. And I found at least seven or eight of the characters actively annoying. And I'm only five years out of this show's wheelhouse, so I shouldn't be finding these people more affected and foreign to me than, say, the cast of "Spartacus." Part of the distancing effect is courtesy of the faux-documentary conceit, which proves more distracting than enlightening. If you're doing this format, you have to either embrace the particular limitations it puts on your storytelling, or else you have to ignore those limitations completely and run the risk of this viewer going, "Boy, this documentary crew seems to have a lot of roving cameras and some really sophisticated sound equipment." Or maybe the conceit and the show itself are an intentional goof? Maybe the reveal is going to be that the documentary-within-the-show is every bit as contrived and fake as something like "The Hills." That would be a pretty dizzying construct, if the very poorly scripted and acted show in the premiere turned out to be a ruse and subsequent episodes showed us the behind-the-scenes footage, in which suddenly the acting and writing all became appreciably better and we saw the reality behind the front these nine people are making for the camera? I doubt it. Anyway, the dramatic irony is obnoxious -- our first line of dialogue is one character, in 2000, glibly announcing "My name is Rolly Marks and I think that George W. Bush is going to be the best president this country's ever seen. Woo!" and fans of the show will laugh knowingly, as if this kind of winking and nudging were somehow clever -- and a lot of the "history" seems specious at best (one character is meant to be a brilliant innovator because he knows what an mp3 is in May 2000, long after the launch of Napster). Anyway, I've gotta save some ranting material for my actual review, but let's just say that every single second of "My Generation" rang false to me.
Desire To Watch Again: I'm almost perversely curious to see another episode or two, just to see if I can get any indication of the show Steve McPherson thought he was introducing to advertisers back in May. As a huge fan of Noah Hawley's last ABC show, the quirky and distinctive "The Unusuals," this goes down as one of my biggest disappointments of the pilot-viewing season. [Some people are going to love "My Generation." They will mostly, I suspect, be women 18-34. That's the CW audience. So naturally, ABC has programmed "My Generation" against The CW's most popular show. Anywho...]
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