I'm trying out several new shows this season, and My Generation was one I was most...curious about. I was intrigued by the concept: A documentary film crew follows nine seniors from a Texas high school in 2000, asks them to share their hopes and aspirations for the future, then returns ten years later to see how their present-day reality measures up to their high school dreams. My Generation skips back and forth between 2000 and 2010, showing how the national events, scandals, and crises that transpired have shaped these young people. I say I was curious about this show because I told myself it would either be terribly addictive or feel terribly contrived. After viewing two episodes, I find myself comfortably in between the two.
I think I'm pretty qualified to judge this series. I graduated high school in 2000, and I live in Texas, so I should either find these characters relatable, or I should be able to quickly identify them as inauthentic. My Generation stars:
Steven: "The Over-Achiever"
Jackie: "The Beauty Queen"
Christine: "The Wallflower"
Kenneth: "The Nerd"
Dawn: "The Punk"
Rolly: "The Jock"
Brenda: "The Brain"
Anders: "The Rich Kid"
Falcon: "The Rock Star"
As you might have guessed, part of the criticism of My Generation is the introduction of seemingly one-note characters, accounting for basically every teenage stereotype. That is true, but I would like to counter with this: If a documentary film crew visits a high school to select nine subjects for their film, they are going to seek out representatives from every segment of the population, and label them as such so they can be easily identified and recognized. I'll buy that. Besides, the way I remember high school, people are marginalized. It isn't until we get to know one another that we discover the depth and complexity of a person, and we don't learn the totality of a person's character in a few minutes of screen time, which is all we've seen of each character so far.
Another criticism is that the characters in 2010 have unrealistic life stories that are too heavily influenced by national events and pop culture. If I didn't happen to know so many people whose lives mirror that of the characters of My Generation, I might be inclined to agree.
Critics also say it isn't realistic that so many of these characters' lives turned out so differently from what they had planned. Well, if a documentary film crew had interviewed me as a high school senior, they would have met a girl with little interest in marriage, no interest in children, with no clearly defined career ambitions, but big plans for an important job, in a big office overlooking the city, where I'll wear designer suits and sit at a desk made of dark mahogany. My office would be decorated with a Moroccan theme! Maybe I'd be a lawyer! Not because I have any interest in practicing law, but because I bet a lawyer would have the means to do everything listed above.
For those keeping score, I'm a stay-at-home wife and mother who writes a blog while wearing sweatpants. But critics of My Generation say it's far-fetched for a 28-year-old woman's life to stand in such stark contrast to the dreams held by her 18-year-old self. I would counter that it isn't the 28-year-old who is out of touch, it's the 18-year-old who lacks self-awareness and an understanding for the world around her.
I say all of that, so I can say this: Let it be. Sorry My Generation it isn't Mad Men, but that doesn't mean it's not worth watching. I want to watch it all season, so I'm putting out a positive review with the hopes it will help to balance out the negative reviews so ABC doesn't take it out back and shoot it.