Friday, October 3, 2008

CW's 'Privileged' is all 'sizzle'

Reading reviews of television shows or movies I've seen is always fun because half the time I'm in complete agreement with the reviewer's analysis and the half, I don't see eye to eye with the reviewer. That is the case with The Hollywood Reporter's review of the CW's Tuesday post-"90210" hour, "Privileged." (It should be noted that I interned there for three months this summer.)

It explores the lives of rich people in a way that makes reality seem exactly like a cartoon. But for those who like a little realism with their comedy, it doesn't fly too terribly high.

I disagree. Yes, it might follow the typical CW formula of the cute teen/young adult dramedy with each episode being message-themed in some way, but "Privileged" offers a lot more than just a pretty leading lady navigating her way through the trials of life (and class society) as a strong, mid-twenties woman. (I will give the reviewer credit for picking up on the show's vibe, however, that is part of its appeal. You have to remember, the target audience for the CW is entirely different than that of ABC or Fox.)

The comedy is realistic; every situation that the characters are in (with the exception of one or two) feels sincere and genuine. Most importantly, you believe Megan's (brilliantly played by JoAnna Garcia) dilemma and hardships. Every conflict she encounters, whether it be romantic, familial or work-related is fully realized in each episode and no stone goes unturned. I can't think of any situation the characters have been exposed to that neither feels realistic nor cartoonish.

The opener, written by executive producer Rina Mimoun, sets the table for the stranger-in-a-strange-land, fish-out-of-water conceit capably but without a whole lot of cleverness.

I do agree with the reviewer in that the concept isn't exactly the most original, but sometimes it's not about how innovative you can get with your show synopsis (like "Fringe"), but how you interpret that formula and execute it onscreen. Rina Mimoun ("Gilmore Girls") does effectively tie in the "Gilmore Girls"-esque quality into "Privileged," and unlike what this reviewer says, that style of writing and dialogue works to the benefit of a simple, straightforward show such as this.

People don't really speak with the freewheeling rat-a-tat-tat confidence that they do here, and aside from Garcia none are interesting enough to much care about, much less relate to.

People don't normally talk like they did on "Gilmore Girls" but clearly, enough liked it enough to keep it on the air for almost a decade.

Rose (Lucy Kate Hale) is strong and likable, as well as the more innocent of the two sisters. Charlie (Michael Cassidy), Megan's best friend, is a welcomed addition as someone she confides in who isn't in Palm Beach's high society. The show is perfectly cast and all the characters are interesting in their own ways and in varying degrees.

This isn't a promising sign for a series just leaving the starting gate.

While its ratings are modest (less than 2 million viewers each week), television bloggers have been singing its praises like Zap2it, Give Me My Remote and even Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch.

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