by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Quarterlife & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & ylan is a tortured writer. Her roommate Lisa is a tortured actress (and also a bit of a slut). Her other roommate, Debra, doesn't seem tortured at all, but then Debra doesn't claim any sort of artistic inspiration.
A portrait of contemporary twentysomethings (and an orgy of self-reference), quarterlife is a failed network pilot that found new life on the Internet as not just a Web-ivision show, but also a real-life social-networking Website (quarterlife.com). In the show, Dylan uses the Website's video blogging feature to create little diaries about herself, her roommates, and the two dudes (a pensive filmmaker and a gregarious ad/marketing type) who live next door. This provides the show's narrative structure.
Dylan blogs her innermost thoughts; the other four get pissed about what she says. It's all meant to speak (and sell things) to people of my generation. It won't.
As marketing, quarterlife is brilliant. It's a novel approach to content delivery, and the way the show nests in its own social networking site has created a buzz echo chamber. With product placement in nearly every frame and Toyota onboard whole hog -- the creators are basically making a Scion commercial -- the demographic is clear and the revenue streams are in place.
Too bad the show is one colossal lie. The creators -- old men Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) -- are smart to recognize the whole Web 2.0 thing as a cultural paradigm shift, but too blind to realize that it comes with a radical change in ethics and self-perception. Dylan, the show's moral compass, is a compulsive truth-teller. The blog revolution and the rise of the YouTube confessional, though, has ensured there aren't any compulsive truth-tellers left on the Internet. In taking the diary form and opening it up for mass consumption, blogs and video sites have become breeding grounds for people baring their souls in exactly the way they'd like to be perceived, not the way they truly are.
Making Dylan a little less honest and a bit more conflicted about what it means to be an "artist" telling the world her sanitized feelings would give the show a lens on my generation. As it stands, though, quarterlife is just thirtysomething minus ten. And to me, that's useless.
more TiVo-Worthy than quarterlife
As a recreation of the TMZ/Perez Hilton online gossip machine in the microcosm of an uptown Manhattan private school, Gossip Girl is a rich, bitchy, new-feeling way to tackle the whole teen thing. (CW, Wednesdays, 9 pm)
This Buffy-ish, Seattle-set show about a kid who had his soul sold to the devil ain't saying anything essential about early-20s slackerdom that hasn't already been said by Reality Bites or any number of Kevin Smith films. (He produces Reaper.) But it's funny. And in a new season of mostly boring and pensive, funny feels good. (CW, Tuesdays, 9 pm)
Battlestar Galactica: Razor
A two-hour film that acts as a fourth-season prequel of sorts follows Lee Adama and the Battlestar Pegasus as it searches for Earth, with fresh insight into the nature and psychology of asymmetrical warfare in tow. (Sci-Fi, Saturday, Nov. 24, 9 pm)
Friday Night Lights
This is still the best show on television about young people or otherwise. (NBC, Fridays, 9 pm)
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.