How not to do a show about twentysomethings.


A pretty big part of me wants to wrap it up right there with my review of NBC’s new series Quarterlife (technically there is no capital, but I cannot abide by that sort of thing). But, since the genesis of the show is actually interesting and relevant to the business of television today, and since I can never resist a good opportunity to rant, I’ll continue on.

First, the business part. Quarterlife is really a web series, comprised so far of 36 8-minute episodes (none of which I have watched). The series was created and is owned by prominent writer/producers Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, most beloved to me for being the guiding hands behind My So-Called Life, but with many other impressive and/or lucrative types of projects on their resumes. Now NBC has licensed their show to repackage into six hour-long installments, and I assume if these are successful the network will want to eventually show more.

This arrangement is interesting considering how much of the recent writers’ strike had to do with writers getting shafted over online distribution of their intellectual property. Herskovitz and Zwick own their show and can do whatever the hell they want with ita situation that’s pretty much every television writer’s dream. If NBC wants to “cancel” the show and not distribute it anymore, the producers can keep it going online as long as they want to and can finance it. Despite what executives keep saying, everyone knows that there is a big profit to be made with online content, even if the numbers aren’t particularly impressive just yet. Some info on this particular situation: Quarterlife episodes are available at, Myspace, YouTube, and other sites. The YouTube numbers currently show 794,288 views for episode one, and 29,973 views for episode two. No, I didn’t leave a digit out of the second number. Now, perhaps all those people who saw the first episode on YouTube were so impressed that they skipped right over to the official site and watched the rest of them there…but I’m guessing that’s not the case. Because the show pretty much sucks. (Consider that my segue into the “rant” portion of this post.)

Our main character, Dylan, is like the most insufferable version of Meredith Grey, if Meredith had no real problems in life (which we all know she doesI would not trade lives with poor Meredith). Dylan is a whiner. She appears to have a cushy job as an editorial assistant at a magazine, which is not an easy sort of job to get, and yet she does nothing but bitch about it. To thank the people who have agreed to be her friends despite her utter lack of appealing qualities, she begins a video blog titled “quarterlife” in which she “writes” about them. Example explanations for her actions: “It’s my curse that I can see what people are thinking,” and “Things just come out of me, I’m a writer!” Except that last time I checked, telling the whole internet about your roommate’s sex and alcohol habits and outing a friend for being in love with another friend’s girlfriend is not writing at allit’s gossiping. Pretty fucking vicious gossiping.

Luckily for us, Dylan’s idiot friends are almost as annoying as she is. There’s Danny and Jed, apparently using their filmmaking skills and Danny’s daddy’s money to attempt to start their own ad agency (later, Jed will condescendingly refer to our “consumer-driven society”OH THE IRONY); Debra, taking second place in the whiniest whiner competition because Danny isn’t spinning cartwheels everyday over their plans to move in together; and Lisa, the aforementioned roommate slut who we find out actually can’t even have an orgasmOH THE IRONY REDUX! All of these nitwits forgive Dylan for her betrayals in about five minutes, and begin the task of learning valuable life lessons based on her evaluations of them. They shall now all be honest with each other, and themselves! It shall be, like, totally revelatory, guys! OH MY GOD I HATE THIS SHOW.

Alright, so that I’m not just spewing hatred out into the world I’ll try to say something nice now. Here I go: the girls’ apartment looks like an actual, real-world twentysomething apartment; that one guy is sort of cute in a Saved by the Bell: The New Class sort of way; and, uh, the product placement is pretty creative.

That’s all I’ve got.


1 Response to “How not to do a show about twentysomethings.”

  1. 1 Mander March 12, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I have to agree with you. I was interested in the concept of the show because it is about my generation, and I wanted to see how the characters were portrayed. I hated all the characters, especially Dylan. I thought the whole premise of the show was so unrealistic. Glad to know I’m the only one with this opinion.

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Other projects:

Downton Gabby: podcasting about Downton Abbey from a funny, foul-mouthed, feminist perspective

Quick Lit: reading one short story a day in 2015

Grand Dames: collecting sundry achievements of admirable women

The MacGuffin: archive of my days as a film critic

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