Undeclared Falls Short of Fabulous

After writing about Freaks and Geeks, as well as professing my love for the show in front of large groups of people, i heard a lot of chatter about Undeclared (Apatow’s take on a wimpy high-schooler’s foray into college years). So I watched it. All of it. In one day. 

Let me take a moment to say that this decision was:

1. Informed by my pervasive laziness

2. A direct result of my physical and mental well-being (or lack thereof)

3. Nothing that you haven’t done yourself. Hey, if you’re in your 20s or 30s in the age of Netflix I know you’ve gone wacko on some TV series and watched the whole thing in one day. Whether or not you did it with a gigantic plate of microwave nachos is your own business (and perhaps your own LOSS).

Anyway, fans of Apatow’s thoughts on high school are undoubtedly curious about what he has to say about college. It’s all the complications of high school and “finding yourself” amplified by a sudden lack of supervision. Shit should get crazy… right? 

Apparently not. Though the show features some of Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks stars (Jason Segel plays a jealous boyfriend and Seth Rogen pretty much reprises his role as grumpy yet endearingly honest sidekick) it doesn’t have the same painfully awkward luster that made Freaks and Geeks mesmerizing.

Undeclared follows freshman Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel) in his quest to choose a major, find a group of friends and hook up with his dreamgirl, Lizzie (Carla Gall0). Aside from the obligatory hi-jinks it’s pretty accurate. The characters fight over whether or not to join a fraternity or cheat on their homework. There are puppy-love triangles and hurt feelings. Plus, they’re always trying to get laid and making sweeping declarations that they’ll never drink again. Sound familiar?

One of the highlights of the show is improv-sass-queen Amy Poehler’s role as Head RA Hillary. She alternates between lusty flirtation and authoritarian threats at the drop of a hat. At one point she even enters a romantic relationship with Steven’s divorced father, Hal, who hangs out at the college for lack of anything better to do. Hillary remains a firecracker throughout the season and offers some over-the-top comedy to an otherwise acceptable show.

Basically, the show is okay. It’s not great, it’s not terrible, it’s okay. So if that’s what you’re looking for–go to town–but Freaks and Geeks fans will be disappointed with the next chapter in Apatow’s growing-pains saga.

(Oh–and Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller show up. That’s pretty funny, too.)

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