ABC's new hour-long ensemble drama is about a group of high school friends being followed around by a documentary crew. The show is absolutely terrible, in almost every aspect. Terrible in a way that has to be carefully taken dissected.
My Generation is the 7 Up documentary series by Michael Apted meets Bloomsterid (the Sweedish show it's based on) meets Reunion meets everything bad that's happened to our country in the last ten years.
The Set Up
For some unexplained reason, a documentary crew follows around a group of nine kids from Austin, Texas in 2000, the year they graduate from high school. Then, for another unexplained reason, the crew returns to see where they are and also pass a lot of judgment. The director of the doc, who remains off-camera but does a fair bit of narrating, asks them "what happened" a bunch of times and also manages to be in both Austin and Washington D.C. at the same time.
We're presumably meant to marvel at how regular these guys are and surely see ourselves in them. But that's impossible, because they aren't people so much as they're just types, as the opening makes perfectly clear.
Cringe Factor (Out of 10)
This is undoubtedly one of the worst pilots of the season, and that's really saying something. The characters are one-dimensional and insipid, the premise is completely contrived and really makes absolutely no sense. There is one gigantic continuity error and a few other little miscalculations along the way. All of the characters are completely obsessed with themselves and their little lives. Maybe it's an unintended consequence of the doc conceit, but every character comes of completely wrapped up in their own issues and drama. It's not the kind of workable drama that a show like this should be full of, but the kind that makes you roll your eyes when the characters open up their mouths. Let's go through some of the characters,
- Kenneth, "the nerd:" When asked what he wants to do in life as a high schooler, Kenneth replies that he wants to be a father. Which is kind of nice in general, I guess, but it's also really pathetic that the only thing he wants out of life is to knock someone up. That's all they could come up with? As it turns out, Kenneth also has some Daddy issues as his father killed himself in 2004 after losing his retirement money when Enron screwed its shareholders. (Here's the big error on the show's part, Kenneth tells someone that his dad died when Kenneth was 19 and his grave shows and the narration reiterates the died in 2004. That means that Kenneth graduated from high school at 15.)
Also, Kenneth learns that he's infertile. Because that's what this show is really about - you can't get what you want and whatever you thought life was gonna be like when you were in high school is basically the opposite of what ends up happening. Why then do we care about what these kids said when they were in high school? It's like this for all of them.
- Steven, "the over-achiever:" Guess what? Steven isn't successful and hasn't achieved much of anything. Instead, he works in a bar and is a beach bum in Hawaii, which really doesn't seem so bad if you ask me but whatever. Early on, the director asks him, in a pleading tone undoubtedly shaking her head at the time, "what happened? What happened, Steven?"
Wanna know what's really funny about that? Later in the hour, the director's narration informs us that Steven's father was an executive at Enron and he's now in prison. Steven was forced to leave Yale in his sophomore year because his family could no longer afford his tuition. Why are you asking what happened, director lady? That's what happened!
- Rolly, "the jock:" Rolly was doing great playing point guard for Stanford when September 11 happened and he was so affected by that day that he joined the army. Exactly like NFL player Pat Tillman who was tragically killed in 2004, just straight ripped off.
- Brenda, "the brain:" Brenda was gonna be a scientist but was so affected by the kerfuffle for the presidency in 2000 that she decided to be a lawyer. She seems to be doing really well but she's actually really unhappy and still pining for her high school boyfriend. For some reason, she isn't aware that he's married to someone else they went to high school with because Facebook doesn't exist in the world of the show. (Actually, it does, and there's a shot of Brenda checking out their wedding album on the site but she still needed to be told about it so apparently she doesn't care enough about her old boyfriend to see what he's been up to at any point between 2007 and 2010.)
On a larger note, the Facebook thing is part of what makes this show completely nonsensical. This is the age of information, they would not be surprised about the major events of their close friends' lives like this. News travels. Plus, they run into each other on the street or in bars constantly and we get all the holes filled in for us by the narration, which includes footage from the time between 2000 and 2010 that the filmmakers somehow have access to.
Over/Under for Cancellation
This just has to stop. It's so bad, just so so bad.