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My Generation Pilot/Travesty

September 25th, 2010 | Jonathan Gray

Okay, let’s start this review with an apology, to The Defenders. I maligned you, Jim and Jerry, by suggesting that you’d combined to offer us the worst new show of the season. But wow, My Generation really takes that title with ease, reducing The Defenders to the status of merely somewhat bad in comparison.

If Lost had been written by My Generation’s staff, the pilot might’ve contained dialogue like this:

Sun: “Jin, I never told you I can speak English, but I can.”

Jin: “That’s alright. I know I’ve been bad, but I’ve been struggling to be a better person, and to be worthy of you. I love you deeply.”

Sayid: “What a coincidence, since sometimes I also try to be better to prove to myself I might’ve been worthy of the woman I love”

[Jacob appears]

Sawyer: “Who are you, Goldilocks?”

Jacob: “I’m the guardian of the island.”

Hurley: “What an awesome-sound job. I think I’d like to do that one day. But who would be my deputy? I have no idea. Oh well, maybe someone will fall from the sky or something like that.”

… and so forth.

My Generation has no art to its exposition, only the painfully predictable (e.g: character who says he wants a large family + same character going to become a sperm donor = character who finds out he’s infertile) and annoying stereotypes. First, each character is subtitled as “The Brain,” “The Jock,” or so forth, as if the audience is too stupid to remember eight or nine names. Then the stereotypes take a racial tinge, as The Jock just happens to be the black guy and The Wallflower just happens to be the Asian woman. And that’s just the beginning of the clichés. I’d list a few more, but it’s actually quite hard to pull one out from the densely intricate network of clichés into which each is placed: the show is like a huge Jenga structure of clichés.

I’ve heard people refer to My Generation as a soap, but soaps often pay quite careful attention to slow exposition and to taking time to do things. By contrast, even My Generation’s sense of character history betrays its inability to be patient: we’re told that the day after the Supreme Court victory that gave Bush the presidency, The Brain changed her major from something scientific to Pre-Law. Next, we hear that the day after 9/11, The Jock signed up to go to Iraq. And for a perfect three, the day after one character’s father was sentenced to jail as part of the Enron scandal, another’s father killed himself. What’s the freakin’ rush? Couldn’t one of them have at least spent a week to consider something?

I’ve also heard it referred to as a fictionalized Seven Up series, which is horribly insulting to a documentary that is profound, beautiful, often surprising, and one of the better things offered by television. When, in Seven Up, we see a young Neil giddy with excitement as he explains his play, we don’t see his heart-wrenching depression on the horizon; if it was My Generation, Neil would be seen sitting in a corner of the school yard, head in hands, staring blankly into the distance. And then in the midst of his eventual depression, we’d hear him note that the city council was messed up and that “someone ought to do something about it.” Then the day after, he’d quit homelessness, move to Austin for some spurious reason, and become a city council member.

Not all of the performances are bad, though there’s so little room to move with this script. Wooden interactions are the norm, like an amateur play in which the actors are struggling to remember their lines and thus always deliver them a little late and a lot flat. Michael Stahl-David as Steven Foster is alright, I suppose. Daniella Alonso as Brenda Serrano is okay. Anne Son as Caroline Chung is actually quite awesome.

But do yourself a favor and don’t watch it.

Finally, can I just say that any guy who spends his evenings sitting around watching videos of himself getting crowned Prom King ten years earlier is a MAJOR LOSER.

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