31 March 2009
I’m probably too old for Greek, but then again I’m probably too old for Gossip Girl and to hang up pictures of Zac Effron on my wall. I’ll live. Plus, Greek speaks pretty directly to the heart of my current life: this season is all about seniors like Casey and Cappie not quite ready to give up on the fun of college, but needing to move on and start having a post-CRU life.
Greek is pretty much the anti-Gossip Girl (and I mean that keeping in mind completely that I love both shows): it’s sunny and light where Gossip Girl is dark and dramatic. The stakes on this show tend to be tiny (sorority rushes, Cameron Diaz’s bangs) as opposed to GG‘s (murder, drug abuse, college), but the characters take them super seriously, even when the show does not. It’s got deeply moral characters, who never lose their ridiculousness. Even the seemingly “bad characters,” live by their own code and would never turn on a friend. Aside from all that, it’s actually a lot like it’s New York cousin: it has a deep entrenched wit and parade of great and great-looking actors filling out its characters.
The show has grown a lot since its inception: for the first few episodes, Cappie was an Animal House throw back with little in the way of real character, Casey was an empty vacuous jerkface, Evan was an evil playboy, and Rebecca was a “ho.” This could pretty much all still be applied, but the beauty of Greek is the way they’ve grown their characters without ever losing what made them awesome in the first place. Cappie is terrified of growing older and maturing, so he’s taking time having fun and playing hacky sack (and watching Jon and Kate Plus 8) until he’s forced cruelly out into the adult world. Casey is a deeply ambitious but deeply lost girl trying to find her place in the world in a way that doesn’t compromise who she is (she also has a pretty damn Cappie-esque side that she tries to fight against). It’s a decent character, but it’s Graham who really makes her shine. She grounds the perky optimism and determination to do good in an intelligence and love of fun that helps us get through storylines that just have her trying to outdo her social rivals. Plus, the Casey and Ashley girl love is a nice equalizing force. The two actually have fun together in a way that too often female friendships on television shows aren’t grounded in. This week, for example, saw them teaming up to take down the newly formed IKI house (how much do I love that name?) and giggling manically as they do it.
Evan is still kind of an evil playboy, but he’s also fiercely loyal to his gay Little, Calvin, and deeply hurt by all his “poor little richboy” angst. And Rebecca… well Rebecca is a revelation. From loving Cappie, to moling for ZBZ, she’s a complicated, brilliant, amazing character whose never stopped being interesting even as she’s gotten less overtly bitchy.
The heart of the show, though, is Rusty, the geeky, awkward, and yet inexplicably cool littlest Cartwright, who brings out the best in all the characters around him. Cappie is never so endearing as when he’s mentoring his Little, and his genuine affection for Rusty is what makes us able to put up with all his manwhoring and questionable meat eating. The Casey and Rusty relationship has grown so much since the first episodes embarrassed indifference, and some of the best Casey beats over the season have been with the little bro. Rusty, Calvin, and Dale (the nerdy KT, ambitious and gay Omega Chai, and southern uber-Christian, respectively) make for the strangest of strange three amigos, but it works, and it brings out the best in all three of them.
It’d be disingenuous to pretend that Greek is a perfect show. It’s ultimately pretty light and fluffy for my taste, and they tend to flipflop on secondary characters whenever it’s convenient (Franny, for example, has gone from unapologetic biyatch to reformed good girl to biyatch to uber biyatch as the story has called for it; meanwhile Evan has gotten tantalizingly close to real growth as a character just to be thrown back into the position of jerk because the story calls for it). But the Season Premier illustrated clearly: Greek is one of the most consistently entertaining hours in the business, and the writers haven’t lost their grasp on what makes life at Cyprus Rhodes University fun.
Dale: My roommate is Canadian. How am I supposed to sleep at night when some foreigners waving his flag around in what is clearly an act of aggression?
Franny: You girls are playing with fire.
Casey: We know, that’s how you make smores.
Casey: (about her Washington Internship peers) And worst of all… they called me Elle Woods.