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Is Greek the New, Better Undeclared?

by Monica A. Reyhani October 29, 2008 2:37 pm
Is <I>Greek</I> the New, Better <I>Undeclared</I>?

Judd Apatow wasn't really a dysfunctional household name until he hit it big with a string of successful big screen films like the 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad. And although most of his die-hard fans and critics usually mourn the loss of Freaks and Geeks, it was his last foray on the small screen, Undeclared, that I've become re-obsessed with lately. Recently one of my colleagues offered to burn the first and only season of Undeclared for me onto DVD. I brought the three discs home and watched them all, and fell in love with them all over again.

While watching, though, I was overcome with a sense of familiarity, and it wasn't just because I'd seen all the episodes before ... seven years ago. And then I found myself asking... myself: Why is this show reminding me of one of my new favorites, Greek? Well, the obvious reason is that they are both set in college. Both focus on a dork with thoughts of collegiate grandeur. And while they diverge in that Greek focuses almost entirely on the characters' association with the Greek system (while Undeclared only dedicated one episode to the Greek system) both shows are remarkably accurate in their portrayals and satirizations of college life.

Why then is Greek so popular, on a traditionally, well, traditional network like ABC family, and Undeclared not only got cancelled in the middle of its first season, but the network , Fox, decided to air the episodes out of order (The most recent iterations of the DVD put out the episodes the way Judd Apatow intended.) So the question is probably why did Undeclared fail and why is Greek succeeding? Well, first of all, almost everyone on Greek is good-looking (Yes, even Rusty in my book.) Although maybe the highs on Undeclared were higher (Um, Charlie Hunnam anyone?) and some of us (and by some of us I mean me) have a little crush on Jay Baruchel, the other characters weren't very swoon-worthy (Sorry, Seth Rogen) -- nothing like Cappie and Evan, or even Max. Although this may seem absurdly superficial, that's life, folks.

Undeclared was also kinda weird, though hilarious. Greek is pretty funny too. And while Undeclared relied on awkward moments and the often creepy depiction of a jealous older boyfriend by the often-too-willing-to-play-a-creepster Jason Segel, Greek relies on one-liners, and does it pretty effectively, most effectively through the character of Cappie. Finally, Undeclared was on a major network, Fox. Major networks don't have the time to deal with fledgling shows the way cable does, or better yet, basic cable does. Greek found its audience among the teens and found a home at ABC Family, whose programming is surprisingly forward and liberal for a network that still shows the 700 Club. They have dubbed themselves a "new kind of family." And you know what? They are. So, I wonder what would happen if Undeclared came back? What if ABC Family put it in the 10PM timeslot after Greek? I'd be curious to see how a marathon of Undeclared would do on ABC family or even the equally teen-angst driven The N and see what the response would be like. I actually think there's some life still left in that show. The networks could at least give the show the old college try ... again.

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