Monday, April 14, 2008

High School Reunion

Against my better instincts, I watched the six-part series "High School Reunion" on TVLand recently. I have to admit it was fairly entertaining, but not for the reasons I expected.

Basically, it's your garden variety reality show, only the cast is my age. These folks were celebrating their 20th high school reunion, and got to do so in Hawaii, even though their high school was in Dallas. Everyone is identified by their high school stereotype (the jock, the rebel, the lesbian, etc.), and they get hall passes to exotic locales if they're good and detentions if they're bad.

What I particularly loved about the show is that it tried to follow the usual reality show formula by introducing conflict whenever possible. The problem is that these people aren't asshole teens anymore. They're in their late 30s and have largely mellowed out. It seemed like every time the cast was getting along too well, they introduced another character to make things tense, but it usually worked out okay. For example, one of the original cast members was known as "the bully" in high school, although he seems pretty decent today. So they brought in one of the nerds he used to beat up in high school. They had a briefly tense conversation. Then the bully said he didn't remember the incident, but he was sorry about it. Then they started hanging out and became best buddies.

There was some tension when they introduced "the backstabber," the former best friend of "the rebel" who had slept with "the rebel"'s ex-wife. "The backstabber" almost got his ass kicked a few times, not so much because of what he'd done (breaking the guy code) but because of his patent inability to be contrite. ("You slept with your best friend's ex-wife, dude," said one cast member. "Yeah," he replied, "But I'm man enough to admit it.") Nonetheless, by the last episode, the two former best friends were, if not buddies, at least on speaking terms again.

The only real surprise for me was that "the pipsqueak," a sweet but geeky kid in high school who bloomed later and became pretty good looking, ended up hooking up with "the popular girl," and then totally dumped her ass during the reunion prom. Oh, and the Motels played at prom, doing pretty good renditions of "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly Last Summer." (I was waiting for "So L.A.," but no luck.)

Anyway, all episodes are free online, so if you want a few hours of mindless fun and a healthy reminder of why people pushing forty aren't often cast in reality shows, check it out.

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