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Undeclared? More Like Underwear! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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January 10th, 2006


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11:10 pm - Undeclared? More Like Underwear!
A couple years ago, I blind-bought the Freaks and Geeks DVDs from areacode212, having never seen an episode (or met him, for that matter...which still hasn't been rectified). I'd heard nothing but good things, although it didn't seem like my kind of show. I wasn't blown away at first, but by the end I lamented the cancellation as much as everyone else did. That was good high school drama there.

Now, I remember when Undeclared came out, and I didn't remember it being received very well, so I figured it wasn't very good. But then it came out on DVD and all these people I knew began singing its praises. So jenelope let made me borrow her DVDs (and when she comes to take these back, I'm letting making her borrow Freaks and Geeks).

All right, guys, say it with me: damn you, Fox! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn yooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuu!!

Maybe it was ahead of its time—no-laugh-track half-hour comedies are totally in right now. Well, totally in LINE TO BE CANCELLED. Undeclared is not the best show ever, but it's funny, endearing, and enjoyable, and it should have lasted longer than it did. Its major strength, like that of Freaks and Geeks, is how true-to-life it is. It's so what college is really like. I don't recall many other half-hour dramedies about college life. No, Saved by the Bell: The College Years doesn't count.

I know the exact moment when I realized that the show wasn't afraid to present college as it really is. In the second episode, Hillary, the head R.A., says that she lives on the top floor, and then she extremely dorkily adds, "Because we like it on top! It's...just kind of a motto...that I came up with. We're making sweatshirts; they're going to be so cool, when they come back from the printers." And it's so entirely awkward, and of course I was instantly reminded of Jones 4th North and their "It's better on top" shirts. It became clear that every college ever had some dorm with that slogan on a shirt of some sort, and it was also clear that the joke isn't funny at all unless you actually identify with it. So many television shows use the typical college stereotypes, but this show uses the actual college stereotypes. On an unrelated note, I will applaud the first television show or movie to exploit the stereotype of Indians as motel owners because HELLO. I'm tired of seeing Indians running convenience stores. There's a street in Dallas on which every single fucking motel is owned by Indians. There's an Asian American Hotel Owners Association. Come on, if you're going to make fun of us, DO IT CORRECTLY.

And that's what makes Undeclared so great, the fact that it takes the sorts of things we actually went through in college and turns it into comedy. One episode's subplot revolves around roommates fighting over the volume of music and what to play (sidenote: the music used on the show really takes you back...it's all those late nineties hits you thought you forgot about! Example: the aforementioned subplot relies on the use of OMC's "How Bizarre"). Another involves a character not wanting to tell his parents he's changed his major.

The other thing that makes the show so great is the cast. I'm starting to believe that even the crappiest show can be rescued by a great cast. You get a great cast with great chemistry who just nail their characters, and the magic just happens. Sure, good writing helps, but the cast can make up the difference. According to Jay Baruchel, though, it was easy for everyone to nail their characters because the writers cast them first and developed their characters around them. I wonder if that was true for some of the recurring characters, of which there are many, because they helped flesh out the world and provided lots of the humor. I love Perry.

I knew next to nothing about any of the characters or the storylines before I started watching, so you know what? I'm giving you that luxury. I will discuss such things in the comments. All you need to know is Lizzie is pretty and Lloyd has a hot accent. And the show is really good and you should watch it. Whores.
Current Mood: nervousnervous
Current Music: Filter - Consider This

(29 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:smrou
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:19 am (UTC)
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And it's so entirely awkward, and of course I was instantly reminded of Jones 4th North and their "It's better on top" shirts. It became clear that every college ever had some dorm with that slogan on a shirt of some sort, and it was also clear that the joke isn't funny at all unless you actually identify with it.
Ha! Yes! The fourth floor of my college dorm totally made shirts with something like that on it my freshman year.

I've never seen Undeclared, but now I shall Netflix it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)
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OMG! I forgot to mention: when you Netflix, do not watch them in the order on the discs. They got put in production order, and there is one episode especially that screws up continuity like whoa if you watch it where the DVDs put it. You can find the correct order here.
[User Picture]
From:smrou
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:43 am (UTC)
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Thanks for the tip.
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From:snoopypez
Date:January 13th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
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::blink:: Dude, they look to be in order on mine.. :P I'm so confused!
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From:snoopypez
Date:January 15th, 2006 01:50 am (UTC)
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Yeah, nevermind. ;P
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From:imwalde
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC)
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Heh. I blind bought Freaks and Geeks after hearing all the love, and then based on the strength of that and further good things heard, I blind bought Undeclared, too.

Overall, I think Freaks and Geeks is a stronger show (and it has Bill! So. much. love.), but I was sad when I realized I had seen all the episodes there were of Undeclared because I did love the whole damn cast.

My favorite moment of the whole series (because it made me snarf my Diet Coke, and I rewound it no fewer than five times) is when Eric and his crew get in his teeeeeeny little car to come kick Steven's ass, and he puts on "Danger" by Mystikal to psych himself up. Heeeeeeeeeeeeee.

It's funny you mention F&G right now because tonight -- after years of nada -- I see two movie previews of movies starring James Franco within 2 hours of each other. (Annapolis, and Tristan and Isolde).
[User Picture]
From:fmith
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:27 am (UTC)
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Sleep don't drink no beer.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:33 am (UTC)
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I just made $300 while you were saying...I don't even care what you were saying, because I just made $300!
[User Picture]
From:fmith
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:50 am (UTC)
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I could buy a decent used car right now... or an amazingly thorough prostitute.
[User Picture]
From:jenelope
Date:January 11th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC)
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Also a great quote!

Gee, can you tell what I did the first weekend I had my Undeclared discs? I kind of have a lot of Undeclared icons.
[User Picture]
From:jenelope
Date:January 11th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
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Best quote ever!
[User Picture]
From:snoopypez
Date:January 11th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
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Lloyd is HOT, yo.

Ahem.

I loved Undeclared since the first episode aired. :P FOX = death.
[User Picture]
From:jenelope
Date:January 11th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC)
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You know, between this and the Duncan-love, you are rapidly becoming my favorite LJ user.
[User Picture]
From:snoopypez
Date:January 12th, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
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Awesome! :D

Note to self, make Undeclared icons..
[User Picture]
From:vertigo66
Date:January 11th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
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I tried to watch Undeclared when it was on Fox but Fox screwed with the episodes so it was so hard to follow. But it did have its charms.
[User Picture]
From:iheartbridges
Date:January 11th, 2006 05:17 am (UTC)
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*is intruiged*

I wanna watch!
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From:debetesse
Date:January 11th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
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I think the Indian Convenience Store thing can be largely traced to The Simpsons (well, that and people go into th 7-11 more often than hotels). Everything else is derivative/playing the trope.

Have you met the trope? I don't think you'd get along very well. I mean, we don't so much talk, as I mock, but it's the only relationship we can manage.
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From:ariiadne
Date:January 11th, 2006 06:12 am (UTC)
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You!

I got your phone call, and my phone battery is teh suxx0r so I can't call you back. But i am TOTALLY COMING to Austin, and the saturday thing. I have a place to stay with my former coworker Ian, at least for the first night (yay!) and then I'm just going to play it by ear and go where the wind takes me. I get into Austin at 7:40 on Friday night. How 'bout you?

I can't wait to meet you, dude. This is gonna rule hardcore.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:January 11th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
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I get into Austin between 3 and 4 Friday afternoon. I'll probably be out to dinner when you get in, and I'll want to be back at the hotel by 9 for BSG. But give me a call when you get in, and we can figure out how the hell you can get with me (and get your ticket!). I don't know if you have other Austin plans, or you're just going to hang out with the VM folk. When your phone battery charges up again, give me a call.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:January 11th, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
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That's so funny. My best friend when I was like 10? is Indian (is because she's still alive, was my best friend but is not anymore, right boring, anyway) and her parents own two motels. I totally had no idea that was a stereotypical thing. I just took it at face value. That's my friend's family, and they own that.
You learn something new every day.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:January 11th, 2006 06:31 am (UTC)
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I have stayed in dozens and dozens of motels over the course of my lifetime during family trips, and we never pay because we always know the people who own them. Seriously. Indians. Motels. EVERYWHERE.
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From:sterope
Date:January 11th, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
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Heh... the place I work is where all those "Because we like it on top!" shirts get made. It's really true.
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From:eirefaerie
Date:January 11th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
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Why are you nervous?

I lived on the top floor of my co-op, but we could never get around to making shirts about liking it on top, because we were too busy moving through a drug-soaked lethargy.
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From:jenelope
Date:January 11th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Aw! Yay! I'm so glad you liked it! See, I was right in forcing those discs on you!

For what it's worth, I've never really gotten the whole "Indians in convenience stores" thing, because nearly every convenience store around here is owned and staffed by Middle Eastern people. Maybe the casting agents are confused or so arrogant that they don't think viewers will know the difference.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:areacode212
Date:January 11th, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
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You realize I still haven't gotten around to watching the last episode of Freaks and Geeks! I think I've drawn out the "I'll save it so I can pretend there's still some undiscovered episode out there" thing much longer than any normal person should.

I can't believe we're coming up on two years since I sold that to you. I originally blind-bought it myself because I was still bitter over Angel getting cancelled, and I wanted to jump into another quality show so I could miss Angel less. That was probably unwise since I now had TWO cancellations to be pissed about.
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From:xxxaimsxxx
Date:January 12th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
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Finally you speak of something I have seen! And loved! Yes, Undeclared is wonderfully great. Keep spreading the love.
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From:mycenae
Date:January 14th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
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Undeclared was immediately awesome because it had Loudon Wainwright on it. I am feeling renewed bitterness over its cancellation...

Also, I am random. Sorry.
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From:lyspeth
Date:January 29th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
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J4N!

I want to watch these shows now.

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