There is a show that no matter what is going on in my life can lift my spirits. I had thought of Psych (which I will be talking about later in the summer when Season Three starts) as an anomaly; that there was no great chance that I would encounter another show that makes me so genuinely inexplicably happy. I became interested in Greek after seeing some snippets while channel surfing and reading some interviews on Watch With Kristin, but I did not expect it to be endorphins on screen. I haven’t smiled this much in a while.
I kind of thought that an ABC Family show about kids in college would be super hokey and too ridiculous to bear. There are defiantly some overly “enthusiastic” elements to Greek. The best way to describe it would be as an hyperbolic tone: the election of “Omega Chi Sweetheart” is discussed as the New Hampshire of the election of Zeta Beta President; the only character with any religious affiliation, Dale (Clark Duke), is a hardcore Southern Baptist who has a purity group and listens to God-rock; every small difficulty is an opportunity for backstabbing. The exaggeration evidences an immaturity on the part of the characters, which is why I call it hyperbole: it would be unrealistic if college age kids did not take everything a bit too seriously and react a bit too extremely. The presumption of Greek is that moral relativism is not only the social standard, but that it is correctly so (“you left black and white back in high school, it is all shades of gray from here on out”; “there are no right or wrong decisions”). While this metaphysical understanding could be vexing, it is a fairly common stage of personal development, the part where in the name of developing you actually remain stationary, and it is definitely in full swing during college. Thankfully, the moralizing is kept to a minimum. It is not like Scrubs, which is just one long diatribe to justify poor choices and selfish behavior. The most irritating part of the show is the pop-culture referent range. ABC more than any other network set is riddled with show cross-pollination, and it drives me nuts. One of the girls quotes Mode magazine, which is the fake fashion magazine on Ugly Betty, the ZBZ girls reinterpret and reenact Grey’s Anatomy scenes, in the Pilot Cappie questions the cancellation of Gilmore Girls, which runs in syndication on ABC Family. It is not just that I find one of these shows more evil than communism, and it is not that I do not believe in cultural awareness. On Greek, as on many other ABC-affiliated shows, the references seem to stand out as forced, making me think there is some kind of bigwig-enforced quota. But I may be criticizing unfairly.
So now your asking yourself if you read my first paragraph wrong. I point out the shortcomings of Greek both in the name of just evaluation, as well as to establish the level of seriousness with which one should approach this show, if one so chooses. This is not groundbreaking TV, but the youthful exuberance of Greek is infectious.
In the Pilot we meet Casey (Spenser Grammer) and Rusty (Jacob Zachar) Cartwright, a Junior and a Freshman respectively, who due to personality differences (she is a social mobile beauty while he is an ultra smart dofus) do not have a close relationship. Casey is the darling of her sorority Zeta Beta Zeta, and her boyfriend Evan (Jake McDorman) is the rich golden boy of Omega Chi Delta. Rusty decides to participate in fraternity rush and accidentally discovers Evan cheating on Casey with Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria), the Freshman daughter of a Senator that all the sororities are vying for. Knowing he cannot accept Evan's offer to pledge Omega Chi, Rusty tells Casey, who out of anger sleeps with her ex-boyfriend Cappie (Scott M. Foster), the fun loving president of Kappa Tau Gamma. The ZBZ president Frannie (Tiffany Dupont) convinces Casey it is “best” for her to take Evan back, but Rusty decides it is best to beat up Evan. Cappie offers Rusty a place at Kappa Tau, taking Rusty under his wing. In addition there is Calvin (Paul James), Rusty’s new friend who is pledging Omega Chi and hiding his homosexuality, as well as Ashleigh (Amber Stevens), Casey’s best-friend with a vivacious personality and loyal heart. From the Pilot the stage is set for the staples of the college experience: trying to balance school commitments with social engagement (classes vs. parties), the ebb and flow of relationships when close proximity prevents any kind of analytical distance (hook-ups and break-ups), roommate disagreements, and planning for the future. Since the show is (obviously) structured around the Greek system, the social/relational aspects predominate, but academics are not totally ignored.
As far as I am concerned there is no question that Casey and Cappie belong together. Infidelity issues aside, Evan is a dillweed: self-satisfied, entitled, and smug. The relationship between Casey and Evan is based on mutual appropriateness, rather than genuine affection. (I have already caught up on Season Two, which is currently airing, and no events taking place or information provided in this season change my above statement.) Rusty’s social development is sweet to watch because it is organic: Cappie teaches him to embrace his personality with confidence instead of requiring some kind of unnatural transformation that would violate Rusty's integrity.
I am going to be totally honest and admit that one of the reasons I find this show immensely adorable is that Cappie bears a strong resemblance to my friend Charlie (but thankfully without the voice impressions). I find a personal comfort here that may be too specific to transfer to other viewers.
I am not advocating Greek as a must-see; I do not actually think it would appeal to most of my (known) readers. While I would write about any show I spent the weekend with, I thought maybe you would be interested in what I was doing while my emotional distraction diverted my attention from my customary shows, which I will spend this week catching up on.
The TV Girl
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- I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.