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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Quarterlife is dead on arrival

NBC's new show does not survive past day one

Published: February 29, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

dc02290801.jpgGen Y has its own technology (the Ipod), its own networking strategy (Facebook) and now with the premiere of NBC’s new one-hour drama, Quarterlife, its own television show.

Apparently the pilot episode failed to relate to its target audience, considering the poor ratings its Tuesday premiere received and its subsequent cancellation by NBC two days later. The show’s NBC debut drew the network’s lowest ratings in this time slot in the last 20 years. However, the show will be shifted to the Bravo channel, which is owned by NBC Universal.

From the creators of My So-Called Life and thirtysomething, Quarterlife follows a group of six friends in their mid-twenties, as they struggle with issues prevalent among the current generation, such as pursuing their passion, despite multiple opportunities to sell out. With its references that only twenty-somethings and younger would comprehend the depth of, Quarterlife is the quintessential show for those in limbo between their teenage years and midlife. For instance, the main character Dylan Krieger narrates the show and analyzes her life and her friends via her blog, a media popular among the trendy, indie set.

The relationships within Dylan’s set of friends reflect the angst of this generation. Dylan shares an apartment with her best friend, Debra, who is dating Danny, a perpetual flirt and aspiring filmmaker. Danny’s best friend, Jed, is also an aspiring filmmaker, but with the artistic genius to match. At the end of the first episode, Dylan reveals that she is in love with Jed, except here is where things get complicated: Jed loves Debra. As if this love pyramid was not enough, the cast is filled out by Lisa, a wannabe actress who, according to Dylan, lives a life of meaningless sex and alcohol and Andy, a film editor, whose technology expertise compensates for his lack of finesse in dating and social skills.

In the first episode, everyone’s secrets are unearthed when Dylan’s friends happen upon her blog, which isn’t as private as she thought. Thus, Jed is forced to face both Debra and Danny in light of the revelation of his love for his best friend’s girlfriend. This leads to many long, heart-wrenching conversations between the characters, creating an emo atmosphere for the show.

The pilot also explores the disillusionment experienced by new college graduates upon entering the workforce. Dylan, a tortured writer, works as an associate editor at fictional magazine, Attitude, a publication comparable to Glamour or Marie Claire. Dylan must endure the wrath of a senior editor who she exposes for stealing one of her ideas, prompting her to deem her job “a place where you check your soul at the door.”

The show features a cast of newcomers whose collective experience mostly consists of guest starring roles. Bitsie Tulloch gives a likeable performance as Dylan, even though her blog rants can come off as unnatural.

While the show’s first installment was entertaining enough, the show is a bit too pensive to appeal to the mainstream audience. Quarterlife was acclaimed when it began a series of eight-minute episodes, which were aired solely online and was later bought by NBC for broadcast television. The show’s slow tempo makes it hard for it to be entertaining for a full hour. In the end, Quarterlife will most likely go the way of My So-Called Life, be taken off the air permanently and live on in a DVD release and a cult following.