James Franco's New Show Stereotypes USC Kids, Looks Totally Boring
Rejoice! For James Franco has a new web series. It's called "Undergrads," and it follows a bunch of overwhelmingly white co-eds at USC as they drink, hook up, and play games on the grass of the quad. And guess what? The show looks like a complete and utter snoozefest.
It's not for lack of trying. The show was created by Franco's younger brother Dave, and it seems like he wants to capture college life, he really does! But here's the thing: the stereotype of USC kids is that they're...well, white, overprivileged frat boys and sorority girls who like to party, fritter away their parents money and speak in irritating tones of voices. (Sorry, USC folk -- if it makes you feel better, the same stereotype is often applied to any given private university in the country, just with a different accent and more cold-weather clothing.)
And when you're dealing in stereotypes, as Franco is doing here, as an artist (go with me here) you're shooting yourself in the foot. You're going to piss off the people you're trying to portray -- and indeed, on Franco's website, commenters say things like ""UNDERGRADS"? More like "GREEK DOUCHEBAGS." I feel really well represented as a student. Thanks," and "Wow, way to cast USC's most elite douchebags as the stars. As a USC student its painful for me to even watch the trailer" -- and in the meantime, you're not even delivering interesting commentary on your subject, because you're telling people what they think they already know.
The undercooked idea behind this show is perhaps best summarized by an interview that the younger Franco gave to MTV last year, in which he said all of the following:
"The basic idea stems from a conversation I had with my friend about how there are really only a handful of projects...that really capture what college is like." "For the most part, it's all sensationalized and over-the-top."
"I went to USC, and watching this footage, I can attest that this is really what it's like. This is what happens on a typical night."
"...the whole tone is a little strange, because it's part documentary, part reality, part scripted."
Basically, this isn't an accurate reflection of college life because it isn't an accurate reflection of anybody's life.
Still, if you're interested, here's the trailer! Courtesy of James Franco on WhoSay: