June 9th, 2008
Most series set in college would end their first season with the end of the school year, but Greek is operating under a really weird schedule – it took only ten episodes to complete the first half of the year, but only got to Spring Break (Woo!) in its last twelve.
The argument you could make, though, is that a show that has nothing to do with academics should probably climax in the throes of the party period as opposed to the exam one. I don’t say that to degrade the series, a solid entry into its television category, but rather to point out the obvious: if you came in expecting no drama or theatrics surrounding love quadrangles or hijinx, you went to the wrong Spring Break.
For the most part, the show follows its traditional patterns: Ashley is shallow and immature, Casey is self-righteous, Cappie is humorous but unfairly treaded on, Evan is pathetic, and Rusty has every possible bad thing that could happen to him, well, happen to him. But they’re comfortable patterns, and just like an ideal Spring Break in a television season swimming with less and less options.
The episode is an odd turn on one front, and that’s the decision to return Cappie and Casey’s relationship to the narrative. It’s a strange move when we consider that they really haven’t been spending much time with each other in the past few weeks, and while I like Casey a lot more when she’s with Cappie than without I don’t think it’s really all that fair to Cappie. As a character, he doesn’t need to be further defined by being anything but a concerned boyfriend who likes to party.
However, furthering my respect for the series, at first the only person who views it as anything more than friendship between them is Rebecca, who has good reason to – her paranoia is fueled not by illogical and cliched plotting, but rather an emotional breakdown fueled by a tragic revelation about her Senator father (That he is part of a high end prostitution ring). Cappie as the concerned, doting and caring boyfriend is pretty much where the character sits most of the time in my mind, so ending him on that note would be doing the character justice.
Except, limiting my respect for the series, they didn’t stop there: they had to throw Cappie and Casey together in a contrived setting wherein Casey’s newfound confusion about her life makes her relate with Cappie’s own pointless existence. I’m fine with these two characters spending time together, or finding friendship, but turning it into a relationship is a tired cliche to the same level as the young girl with daddy issues.
There was nothing necessary about that kiss, really – they could have just let Cappie and Casey relate to one another and potentially set a course for a new future. It’s one of those situations where I really don’t think it says anything good about either character, something that never seems a smart move on a show where I am supposed to like almost all of these people. Once Rebecca’s reasoning is revealed, and Cappie rushes to her side, it feels like a contrived way to turn this into a “Will they, won’t they?” moment versus an actual character point for anyone involved.
Casey, however, finally gets a sober third thought or four. Her final moment of realization that Cappie and her are not that different, that they both have no idea what they’re going with their life, is at least a logical one. I’m not sure if it’s as simple as she makes it out to be, but her uncertainty did make her seem more attractive and less spite-worthy on my end of the spectrum. My issue is that it kind of, again, absolves her of anything even close to responsibility – she just heads into the water naked at sunrise with Ashley and everything’s okay.
And that’s a problem when her two biggest rivals of sorts are teaming up against her, and we’re supposed to look at it as a bad thing. I’ve stuck up for Frannie a lot as of late, even if I can never decide how to spell her name, and her behaviour here is logical. That she wants to be with Evan is strange when she knows what a dirtbag he is, but at the same time I think that the show took it a step too far by turning it into something where both are really in the relationship to spite Casey. Can’t things in this universe not revolve around this character – if they want to be together, the show needs to let them do so on their own terms.
The only two people who really get to define themselves on their own terms in the episode are Rusty and Calvin, who leave Myrtle Beach early to avoid further humiliation and to see their boyfriend, respectively of course. Rusty is having the worst Spring Break ever (Real guy from his ID shows up, forgets to check his eye colour, gets ridiculous sunburn that magically went through his clothes), while Calvin just isn’t having any fun; they come together on a bus trip, and eventually through hijinx and rental car regulations end up with Dale on their way back to Cyprus.
It’s the episode’s simplest, but most effective, storyline – Rusty got a bit of a bum rap in the second half of the season, but here was a nice small story of friendship and camaraderie to end on. Throwing Dale into the mix was a smart move, as the character has plenty of potential to exasperate these situations, and there was just a lot to like about it.
And it’s unfortunate that the other storylines couldn’t be as even – there certainly wasn’t anything bad, but they all felt strangely un-finale like. Sure, certain things came to the forefront. A lot of them, especially Ashley’s Cinderella story with her mystery blob, felt like setup for next season as opposed to a continuation of other storylines (I was sure the episode title would lead us back to last week’s credit card issues, but they went unnoticed here). It almost feels like the real finale was weeks ago, and that these are extra episodes designed more as an epilogue than as a larger picture (With the real season’s end coming with the lifting of the regulations and the subsequent parties).
Either way, I’m in for season two – there’s a lot to like here, and a lot of room to grow with the right touch. I do think that they absolutely need to back off the love triangle stuff for at least a little while (Especially since the Evan/Frannie pairing reeks of the Cappie/Rebecca pairing on the “All about Casey” scale), but I’ll at least hope that we get to see more of what makes the show great.
- Producers must have really enjoyed drunk Betsy, the ZBZ pledge who we saw I think two weeks ago. Here, she was wonderful in noting that she enjoyed the life guard tower in Baywatch.
- While I might find Casey more frustrating, Ashley is certainly more annoying – here, her credit card troubles went away over an obsessive stalking of a potential person to “molest.” It was almost pathetic to watch, which is something I wouldn’t say of Casey or any other character.