Greek – “Social Studies”


“Social Studies”

May 25th, 2009

It has been a really long time since I’ve taken the time to write a blog post about Greek, but it is amongst the list of shows that I have kept watching without, well, telling all of you fine folks about it. Part of this is because, in the list of in-season priorities, Greek is often low on the list, although I often watch it quite soon after it airs: however, it’s usually as a break from blogging about something else, or in between classes when I don’t have time to write about it after the fact.

I say all of this knowing full well that, most of the time, Greek is not the kind of show you can really ‘review’ in the critical sense. However, I don’t want to be seen as someone who believes that the show is without any sort of critical merit, and that it should always remain in the realm of the guilty pleasure. The series has a deep bench of characters who are almost all capable of intereacting with one another, and has struck a tone that isn’t saccharine and manages to maintain dramatic and comic interest without falling into scandal or soap operatic archetypes.

The show is never going to be high level drama, but an episode like “Social Studies” is a great example of the way the show can take a scenario common to any college series of this nature and really use it to build existing storylines. That the episode is dealing with the show’s relationships should turn me off to this particular entry into the show’s strong backend to the second season (it’s a really weird schedule), but something about the way the episode handles the two relationships made the episode work for me.

One of my favourite things about the Greek universe, if we can call it a universe, is that there is a really healthy amount of history with these characters. When Rebecca and Evan are paired off in this episode, you almost forget for a moment that they slept together in the show’s pilot, and that their history has been all but forgotten as time has gone on. Gossip Girl often does the same thing with its characters, throwing together two odd ducks in an attempt to create a spark, but with Greek it always feels really strong on a personal level (on a plot level, it’s horribly contrived, but I’ll forgive the show that one flaw). Something about the show’s chemistry really comes together in those moments, and the show wouldn’t work if the cast couldn’t be put into these very different combinations.

The reason is that the show can’t lean too heavily on the pairing we get in this episode, Casey and Cappie, the destiny couple or so we’ve often been told. Casey’s lovelife is pretty well my only real problem with the show’s execution: I don’t care who Casey ends up with, nor do I particular find any of her romantic entanglements particularly engaging. I don’t think it’s the fault of Spencer Grammer, or any of her potential suitors, but rather that the show often slows to a crawl when the melodrama becomes the show’s only focus. One of the signs of a strong series is to be able to have relationships without dragging down the show, and Greek often struggled with this early on as Casey was caught between Evan and Cappie.

But this episode demonstrates that Casey’s character has been evolved, as her confrontation with Cappie over their lingering sexual tension was that great combination of mature and immature, showing both their capability to allow their emotions to overwhelm themselves but also knowing when to walk away. The show has apparently learned the same lesson: if this really is the end of Casey and Cappie, then the show is picking a good time to both acknowledge the role emotions play without letting that dominate the show. Take, for example, that Rebecca and Evan story: here’s two sexually charged people, but there was nothing sexual about the story.

The episode actually dealt with a love triangle, but it was a Rusty story, and as a result feels both more original for the show and, to be honest, more engaging. Rusty is just a more charming character, a more unlikely sort of love interest: it made for a fun story to watch, even if it fell into cliches with the ending moment with the note being passed between them. There is something naive and innocent about Rusty, and it made the storyline work that much better as a sort of growth moment for the character: he got tired of being romantic and klutzy Rusty, and he wanted to be something more than that. Yes, the sistine chapel scene was corny, but that’s part of the fun of the show.

And it was also a nice anecdote to the Cappie and Casey story, which meandered its way through philandering Cappie, obsessive Casey (who couldn’t get Ashley’s explanation about Cappie’s breakup with Rebecca out of her head), and eventually to thier final breakdown. The two stories both kind of spiralled out of control, Andy popping back into the picture and ruining everything while Cappie and Casey share an all too uncomfortable hair stroke to go with the earlier boob graze, but the Rusty story was there to lift spirits by episode’s end. It’s pretty classic cheesy teen drama plotting, but it’s what the show does best.

No, the Rebecca and Evan storyline didn’t have a point (I don’t see them pairing the two romantically), unless we count seeing Evan be chased by a rabid dog as a point (which I’m personally open to). However, it was at least connected to the general setting of midterm season, and even with its rather lazy plotting I find Rebecca to be amongst the show’s most enjoyable characters, and the length of time since those two actually shared more than a quarter of a scene together made it at least unique for the show right now.

The show has been good since it’s return, really, and one wonders where they go from here: Andy still has to pop back up at some point if only to seek something close to revenge, Max has to come back from London (although I know at least one of my friends who was quick to cry foul over Michael Rady landing a role on Melrose Place for the fall), and one gets the sense that Frannie will still have to re-enter the equation. However, for a season that seemed set up for rivalry and intrigue, the show has nicely settled into a groove more productive than deconstructive, and I’m just along for the ride.

Cultural Observations

  • Expect future reviews to be a bit shorter than this one – there’s never a LOT to say about the show, and this one’s padded out a bit since it’s my first time revisiting the show in a while.
  • Enjoyed the moment when Rusty, explaining to Cappie his predicament, says that he wants a whole bag of chips and Casey throws one at him – so simple, and yet really well executed by Grammer.
  • I really like the dynamic that the show has established in the Art History class: Calvin and Dale’s little dialogue about Michaelangelo being gay was a lot of fun, and the board game idea was enjoyable as well. The show is often best when it just lets them hang out in those kinds of situations.
  • I also liked Jordan having to come in and explain essay questions to them: games will do little to prepare you for broader philosophical questions, a lesson that a lot of science majors have to figure out when they enter into Arts electives. Clearly, parts of this episode spoke to my academic observations.
  • The entire dog angle was one big TV cliche, but I did enjoy when it started eating the wiper blades.

1 Comment

Filed under Greek

One response to “Greek – “Social Studies”

  1. claire

    I like this episode but i didn’t love it.
    The game between Cappie and Casey begins to be a little boring, the “won’t they will they” has to finish after 2 seasons ! They have to be together or to be over. But i think it’s for the finale so it’s all right, sometimes i feel it’s too contrived though.
    I liked Jordan in this episode more charming than usual but the “Andy broke up Andy wants me back ” was just ridiculous.
    The dynamic between Rebecca and Evan was fun, but i don’t want them hook up . It will be a come back “evan/rebecca/cappie/casey” angst so no thanks and remember Reb is the girl with Evan cheat on Case and i want Casey and Evan get along (so cute chemistry between Spencer and Jake).
    Moreover the two spoiled rich characters as a couple : bad combination…boring relationship.
    For Evan a girl more tomboy with a fierce personnality would be perfect to challenge him and for Rebecca maybe a guy a little nerd to challenge her to or a guy with a fierce personnality (oups it’s Cappie !).
    Actually for now i am more interested in buddy relationship than romantic : Evan/Cappie, Rusty/Dale/Calvin are awesome.
    The girls is the problem in this show they are too shallow, girlie girlie it’s annoying to watch.

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