dreams really do come true

Being done with school means catching up on TV shows I haven't had time to actually watch when they're on, either by watching DVDs or watching them online. The worst part of this is that after a few hours, the season ends and I have to wait another season or year to find out what happens next.

Unfortunately for me, many of my favorite shows were prematurely cancelled. Arrested Development, Firefly, and Undergrads are the two most egregious cancellations, but this week I discovered another. Young Americans is an old Greg Berlanti series, and it certainly feels like it: small town, nostalgic summer, kids who don't belong and all kinds of taboo woven into an otherwise normal coming-of-age narrative. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Kate Moennig and Ian Somerhalder, but even Kate Bosworth isn't half bad in it. There are 3 simultaneous storylines: poor kid from the wrong side of town gets a scholarship to a private boarding school; rich kid at private boarding school falls in love with pretty local blond girl and then finds out she is his sister; and private boarding school dean's son finds himself falling for his best guy friend, thinks he's gay, but turns out not to be because the friend is actually a girl. It ends up getting even more complicated than that but the show really matures as the season progresses and despite the slow beginning ends up being pretty good.

The soundtrack is pretty run-of-the-mill as far as WB shows go, and doesn't have much variety, but one song that appears in all the right places is the Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo's cover of "Over the Rainbow." Without even checking I would guess that it is on the soundtracks of shows like the OC and Everwood, maybe even Gilmore Girls. I'm sure you've heard it a million times, but I think its the best version of this song, which happens to be one of my favorite songs of all time.

Israel Kamakawiwo: Over the Rainbow

You can find every episode of Young Americans (there are only 9 or so) on Youtube. It was cancelled after one summer season, but definitely had the potential to be the next Dawson's Creek.

Another show I wanted the entirety of this week (though thankfully not prematurely cancelled) is Weeds. It's kind of a dark comedy about the bifurcation of suburban life from all of its supposedly more dangerous counterparts. There are all kinds of interesting racial representations that I assume are deliberate, given how smartly the rest of the show is written. The narrative is especially strong in the second season, when the pretty housewife main character realizes that her job as a pot dealer is way more dangerous than she had assumed. The show has all sorts of critiques of suburban white privilege, some more subtle than others. Mary-Louise Parker's character is astoundingly similar to Lauren Graham's character in Gilmore Girls, which makes the show feel extremely weird (in a good way) but adds a good dose of wit and hilarity.

The coolest thing about Weeds, though, is the soundtrack. Scored by John Dragonetti (of The Submarines), the show ends up feeling kind of like a fairytale, which is totally appropriate for the general way it tries to cast suburbia as a filter that prevents the characters from realizing the dangers of what they are participating in.

The theme song, Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes," is pretty appropriate given the show's overall attitude towards suburban living, but in the second season, each episode features a different cover of the song. Elvis Costello, Death Cab for Cutie, The Submarines, Regina Spektor, one dude from the Polyphonic Spree, Jenny Lewis, and some other people each got their own theme segment, and usually a song or two during the actual episode as well. You can listen to them all here. The first season soundtrack isn't bad either.

I'm working on 2-3 other shows at the moment, so when I get caught up I'll post about those.


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