The ABC Family original series Greek explores the humorous (and occasionally serious) side of Greek life on a quintessential American college campus. While not as squeaky clean as you might expect from a “family” network, the series is full of humor, heart, and great characters that represent the complexity, hilarity and sometimes-melodramatic life of typical American college kids.
Greek opens by introducing us to Rusty (Jacob Zachar), a freshman Pulymer science major at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University who wants to put his geeky past behind him. He decides that the best way to do this is to rush a fraternity, despite his uber-Christian roommate Dale’s (Clark Duke) opinion on the matter. Rusty’s sister Casey (Spencer Grammer) is also doubtful that her brother will be a good fit for Greek life. Casey is a junior at Cyprus-Rhodes as well as a member of the Zeta Beta Zeta sorority. Like most of her “sisters,” Casey is gorgeous, smart, and totally in love with Greek life.
During rush, Rusty meets Calvin (Paul James). While Rusty’s geekiness causes him to stand out like a sore thumb, Calvin knows how to blend in with his surroundings. The two become fast friends even though they end up choosing different fraternities. Calvin goes with Omega Chi Delta, which consists largely of alpha-male white-collar types, many of which will probably go on to rule the world. Meanwhile, Rusty chooses the Kappa Tau Gamma fraternity. These guys are much more laid back about things, drink a lot, and don’t spend a lot of time studying or thinking about the future.
As the pilot episode goes on, the drama begins to unfold. Calvin turns out to be an in-the-closet homosexual who is trying to keep his personal life private from his new “brothers.” Casey’s Omega Chi boyfriend Evan (Jake McDorman) cheats on her with Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria), a Zeta Beta rush whose father is a senator. Casey gets revenge by hooking up with her ex-boyfriend, Kappa Tau president, Cappie (Scott Michael Foster).
The thing is, though the series opens with quite a bit of drama, the characters aren’t the types to wallow in it. We’re not dealing with the college years of Beverly Hills, 90210 here. In 90210, the characters spent the bulk of their college years hopping from one ridiculous over-the-top crisis to another. Greek avoids that by keeping things lighter and never digging too deep into the pains of post-adolescent college life. On the same token, the series is far from the fluffy type of show that Saved by the Bell: The College Yearswas, in which every character’s conflicts were resolved by the end of the episode. Greek’s story arcs often stretch out over the course of a few episodes and there isn’t always a happy ending for everyone.
One of the things that got me hooked on this show is the love triangle between Cappie, Evan and Casey. Cappie and Evan are pretty much polar opposites. While Cappie’s the guy that always knows how to have a good time, Evan’s the more goal-oriented one. He comes from wealthy parents and probably got voted “Most Likely to Succeed” back in high school. At least part of this is what attracts Casey to him. And while it seems fairly obvious that at some point, Casey and Cappie will rekindle their romance, Evan’s not really the bad guy. As Casey points out in the first episode, not everything is black and white in college and this certainly applies to the characters in Greek.
As Rusty is the central character in the series, the first season focuses a lot on him trying to juggle his social life with his academic life. His roommate, Dale, serves as a reminder of what kind of guy Rusty was, in some ways. While Rusty might not have ever been an outspoken Christian, from what we can tell, he was just as socially inept back in high school as Dale is now. Though Dale’s overly judgmental nature can be kind of annoying, there’s a certain level of ridiculous humor in it that makes the character fun to watch.
The focus of the show is usually on Rusty and Casey but the other characters all have interesting storylines as well. Calvin has to deal with keeping his sexuality from his brothers. And speaking of keeping secrets, Casey’s best friend Ashleigh (Amber Stevens) decides to keep her relationship with her boyfriend a secret from her sisters because they don’t approve of him. Meanwhile, Casey aspires to become the next president of ZBZ. This means following in the footsteps of the current president, Frannie (Tiffany Dupont). Frannie’s the queen bee but unfortunately she’s more interested in her own personal success than she is in truly mentoring anyone or passing the torch.
What works best about Greek is also what is most surprising about it. Given the fact that this is an ABC Family series, you would think this show would be a cleaned up version of what college is like but that’s not really the case. In addition to drinking, there’s also a fair amount of implied sexual content. Not to mention that the characters are often faced with some moral dilemmas and they don’t always end up taking the high road. In the end though, there are almost always consequences for their choices and strangely enough, the writers manage to pull off these “lesson-learned” story arcs without the show every feeling too after-school-special-ish.
What I love most about it though is that Greek is fun. There are pop culture references to things like the Bill and Ted movies, Star Wars, old 80’s songs and other things that lead me to believe the writers aren’t just targeting high school and college kids with this series. There isn’t a single episode in the first season that isn’t entertaining on some level. Greek is getting “the college years” right. As this is a pretty rare thing for a teen/young-adult TV show, there’s something very refreshing about it and I can’t wait to see what happens in the second season.
The Greek Chapter One DVD set contains all ten episodes of the first season spaced out over three discs. The three discs fit nicely into a regular sized plastic DVD case.
Pop the first disc in and you’ll be immediately directed to a bunch of previews for ABC Family shows and a few Disney produced movies. You can hit the menu button on your DVD remote to jump past the previews and get to the good stuff. The menu on each of the three discs shows a different location (the floor of the Kappa Tau house, Casey’s room and Rusty’s dorm). You have the opportunity to Play All on each disc (an absolute must-have feature for any TV DVD set) as well as an episode selection option.
There are some special features on the set, including three episode commentaries, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a handful of deleted scenes, the “Darwin Lied” music video and a Season 2 Sneak Peek. The behind the scenes featurette is a lot of fun and features the various cast members talking about the sets, working on the show and some interesting tidbits about their auditions. There are only three deleted scenes included in the special features on the third disc, which makes me wonder why they even bothered to include this as a feature in the first place. Were there no other deleted scenes they could’ve included? At least there’s an optional commentary for the few scenes that are there.
There’s a commentary for the pilot episode, which features creator/co-executive producer Patrick Sean Smith and executive producers Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan talking about getting the pilot put together and finding the cast. The other two commentaries are on the second disc and includes some of the cast members (the guys do one commentary and the girls do the other). As the cast is a pretty lively bunch, both commentaries are fun to listen to.
While I enjoyed rewatching the Darwin Lied performance, I’m kind of surprised that they didn’t do a special feature for the Plain White Tees, considering the band’s appearances in the show, not to mention recording the theme song.
All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the Greek - Chapter 1 DVD set. The cast’s involvement in the special features (between the commentaries and the featurette) definitely adds to the appeal of owning the set rather than just downloading the episodes on iTunes. There could've been more special features but given that this was a short season and the first season at that, I think they did a good job with the set over all.