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[whitespace] High (School) Anxiety

Rating TV's newest Creeks and Geeks

By Cory Feldman

TV was my best friend in junior high. Back then, I would wake up in the morning, feelin' shy and lonely--Gee, I gotta go to school. Don't think I can make it. Don't think I can take it. I went to Degrassi Junior High. OK, not really. But TV allowed me to leave my public school in Queens, New York, and go to Bayside with Zack and Screech or to the Head of the Class with my smart friends. When I was jivin' with Freddy "Boom Boom" Washington, I felt like an honorary sweathog.

Maybe not being a teenager anymore makes me more critical, but I have to say it, kids (on TV) these days. These freaks, geeks, teens in space and popular kids at Manchester Prep; they're not the same. The post-Spelling teens are manipulative, corrupt and mean. They're as overbearingly analytical and annoyingly introspective as Dawson. Worst of all, they are way too pretty. I will be the first to admit, however, that I will watch anything with teenagers in it. I just wonder, can teens out there really relate to their TV-land counterparts?

This season there are more teen shows than David E. Kelley could bat an eyelash at. Figuring out which show to watch can be overwhelming. A general rule to follow: if Jennifer Love Hewitt is producing it, you should probably keep flipping. For some of the others I have created a rating system:

1 pimple: Saved By the Bell
2 pimples: Parker Lewis Can't Lose
3 pimples: My So-Called Life
4 pimples: Degrassi High

Freaks and Geeks
UPN Saturday 8pm

Set in the early '80s, Freaks and Geeks is a dramedy about two siblings in high school. Lindsay (Linda Cardelinni) is a freak for asserting her individuality. Her younger brother, Sam (John Daley), is a geek and so are his friends. Setting this program in the '80s makes it easier to pretend you are still in high school. It also draws more from Wonder Years than 90210. (3 pimples)

WB Thursday 8pm

Remember when David's father moved in with Kelly's mom? Popular is a similar premise. Brooke (Leslie Bibb) is a popular, pretty cheerleader. Sam (Carly Pope) is insecure (except she's gorgeous) and uncool. Brooke's dad and Sam's mom move in together. What drama. (1 pimple)

Manchester Prep
Fox Thursday 8pm

Sebastian (Robin Dunne) was in a middle-class high school until his pranks got him thrown out. He winds up at Manchester Prep, a rich school in Manhattan attended by his stuck-up stepsister, Kathryn (Amy Adams). Kathryn and her mean snob friends try to recruit Sebastian, who has to choose between popularity and a nice unpopular girlfriend. The rich-bitch appeal is strong. (3 pimples)

WB Wednesday 9pm

Set in New Mexico, Max (Jason Behr) and his sister (Katherine Heigl) and best friend (Brendan Fehr) are aliens in high school. When Max falls for earth-girl Liz (Shiri Appleby), some fundamental problems arise. Like Liz's dad doesn't approve of inter-galactic dating. Like John Hughes and John Lithgow collaborated on a TV show. (2 pimples)

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From the November 22, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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