Blog No. 38
Back in the early 2000s I was a young college student struggling with the daily grind of school, work and volunteering. It was an exciting time and I actually miss the busy lifestyle (but only a little). I had a pretty strong group of friend from high school at the time, but most of them went the university rout and with such busy schedules we didn’t get to see each other very often. Luckily, through college and work I made another awesome group of friends who (now many years later) are not only still close friends, they have completely integrated with my other close group of friends. (That doesn’t have much to do with the theme of the blog, it’s just nice).
Around the same time (and along with the then new group of friends) I was introduced to a cartoon called Undergrads. A few of my friends were in an animation program and they introduced me to the show (I think it was them at least). It is a great show about a group of high school friends and their first year in college. Not all that different from us as a matter of fact. The show was funny, insightful and a constant underdog. It was a reflection of how we felt and at 13 episodes we couldn’t get enough. It wasn’t the only show that consumed our free time (or web series either – Homestar Runner I’m looking at you), but it was one of the most universally loved. We were so taken with the show (and its main protagonists) that we were constantly talking about which characters we were like and which ones represented our friends. The funny thing is, we were all the main character in our minds and assigned the rest of the characters based on that cohesion.
We are all the main character in our own stories so it is natural that we would all compare ourselves with the main character in the show, but looking back on it now, we were all a little bit like the main character, and his friends, and the supporting cast. The show was filled with stereotypes and archetypal one dimensional characters. They were all nerds in one way or another (which we all were and are) but there was the geek, jock, lady’s man, hippy, bad boy, stoners and dozens of other characters that didn’t go beyond their label very much. But we do, we are all an amalgamation of these characters and more, but that didn’t stop us from calling each other by the character’s names.
The show was interestingly both a reflection of our lives and a representation of the perceived ideal that television and movies often present. We saw both ourselves and our situation and what we hoped (or feared) what our lives could be if that pesky reality would just stop getting in the way. The characters would get a job, but only have to go to it during the episode that deals with that job. We had to go every week. We never saw the characters doing school work, we had our assignments to finish before we could go out. The show was a nostalgic view of the time of life we were living, but that didn’t make us yearn for it any less. It works the same was now too. I yearn for those days, but only the good parts. Strangely, I yearn for the show in the same way.
I can put the DVD in and not only remember the episodes, but I can remember the times I had with my friends, and the connections we made with the show. I can even a Google search can bring me back to those days. It lets me bring up the little part of that time (and those old feelings) that I still cling to.
It’s funny how something like a cartoon can be so powerful. It was one of the tipping points in the friendship of that group. I’m sure we would still be friends without the show (like I said, there were plenty of other shows that we bonded over and we bonded over many more things beyond television) but the show is an easy access portal to the good times we shared and the roots of our friendship. It was a good way of examining who we were when we were still trying to figure that out and those connections we made with the show extended to each other. Those characters were representations that we responded to and though we didn’t quite fit to their molds we were each the main character and each other’s supporting cast (but since this is my blog it was really my show all along).