Friday, October 1, 2010

Mourning 'My Generation'...

It is with a heavy heart that I must write the following words: ABC has pulled My Generation from their fall schedule. At the time I write this, I am deep in mourning. My Greenbelt pom poms sit still at my feet, and Falcon's mixtape has been turned down to a low, somewhat somber volume. I am still hoping that ABC decides to air the episodes that the series has already shot, albeit on a different night-- one with a much less competitive time slot-- so we can see what happens to the characters in whom we have already invested a small but fair amount of time and energy.

And, yeah, okay, I'm hoping it does well in that other time slot, and they decide to give it a second go. I'm nothing if not a dreamer, okay?? But seeing as how ABC has already pulled all of the show's assets off of their media site, I'm not going to hold my breath.

As a student of television, there are definitely some shows that I love because they are just masterfully crafted. Everything from the dialogue to the color scheme to the cutting between scenes is just crisp and quality. There are others that I love because they are emotional and cut me down to my core. They envelope me in their world and make me feel like I am a part of it: the characters are my friends, but more importantly, I am a character, too. In my not-so-humble opinion, My Generation fit the best of both worlds.

Was My Generation perfect? No. But is any show? Hell no! I chose to focus on its beauty instead of its flaws, though. When one or two actors in particular appeared to play to the cameras in almost a pantomime-y way, I considered that part of the documentary style charm; they weren't posturing as actors but as characters. Maybe I read more into it than I should have; maybe I was just willing to cut in some slack...but that's what you do with something you love!

You don't choose who-- or what-- you love. Whatever it is, it speaks to you in a profound way, and at times in a way you may not be able to verbalize, let alone intellectualize. I loved My Generation. I loved that it was focused on very simple themes (love, family, maturation, defining success) but featured complex characters. I identified with My Generation. I identified with Dawn's outsider nature, hiding secrets about her family; I identified with Kenneth's deep desire for a family; I identified with Brenda's drive and need to flee; I identified with Steven's fear of failure. But most of all I identified with their good hearts and their struggles to learn from mistakes and still be the best possible people they could be.

I was lucky enough to see the first four episodes of My Generation. The network pulled the show from its schedule after only the second one aired, which was kind of an unfair assessment. With so many characters and with parallel story lines ten years apart, it takes at least a few episodes to solidify who everyone is, their relationships to each other, and the character mysteries that would be explored throughout the season. But My Generation won't be given the chance to really "get good" for mass audiences. They won't get to see the heartwarming and heartbreaking birth of Dawn and Rolly's daughter while he is still overseas. They won't get to learn exactly why Anders broke up with Brenda or what exactly happened between Falcon and his wife. They won't get to learn how Steven resolves the fight with Caroline and moves forward with co-parenting.

Though My Generation was rarely subtle (how could it be with billboards plastered everywhere??), it was certainly more than intriguing. Each episode built upon the last to give you a little more about each character, and in turn, every episode was a little bit stronger than the last. And of course the fact that they were able to play with time periods so effectively was a bonus, too. It tugged at my heartstrings and my sense of nostalgia, and I guess I thought nostalgia was trendy these days and would have spoken to many, many others as well.

But it was also the kind of show that you could tune into at any time. Its demographic wasn't the group of people who were necessarily going to carve time out of their day to make sure they were in front of the television when it first aired. They could pick it up later in the evening, when it was comfortable for them, or even the next day or on the weekend when they could devote a block of time to marathoning television. Knowing that, and the fact that ABC was so deeply (and by that, I of course mean financially) invested in this show, it was truly shocking to hear they made such a snap decision.

I would say rest in peace, My Generation; I hardly knew ye...but I did know you, and I loved you. And that's why this is so hard!


Quan said...

Great great post. At a time when ignorant viewers are watching blood and guts and murders and fake vampires and materialistic bimbos it's rare that we actually watch a show that makes us feel good. I just pray that another network will pick up the series. Then maybe I can have hope for the society we live in.

danielletbd said...

Thank you. I actually think it would be a fantastic web series, though much harder to do on a smaller budgetary/time scale. I, too, hope it gets another shot at TV but really I just don't want the story-- or the characters to die. They are so rich and so real and have the ability to speak to so many if given a fair chance!