My Generation -- TV Review

"My Generation"
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Picture this: A documentary crew films an Austin-based high school senior year of nine classmates who are all so two-dimensional that the filmmakers can refer to them as "rock star" or "wallflower."

Now imagine it's 10 years after graduation, and the film crew is back, tracking down the naive nine around the country and back to Austin, where apparently most still live. Not one of them is happy: They're losers in love, adulterers, drunks, commitment-phobe slackers, have daddy issues or are raising 10-year old boys from that prom-night stand.

Who wants to spend time with these people? ABC thinks millions will, and that's the basis for "My Generation," a show with a concept so top-heavy that before the first episode is out, it's already tumbling into its own conceit.

There's no unifying center for these nine, because as in the real world, most left home. That means creator Noah Hawley ("The Unusuals") has to contrive reasons for the wanderers to return. That's not just unrealistic; it's a nightmare reminiscent of George Bailey's failure to escape Bedford Falls. On top of that, there's the documentary crew, which scares every one of the winsome, pleasant and bland characters into hiding the minute something gets juicy.

That said, there are flashes of sardonic brilliance; the "beauty queen" and "rich kid" (Jaime King and Julian Morris) have inevitably married and become wine-sniffing yuppies. They set out a plate of cold cuts for their interviewer, and when Beauty chirps, "I'm so excited to see how that salami will go with the wine," it's a surreal and hilarious moment. If only the rest of the series was so spot-on aware of its ridiculousness. Kudos also to the bad blind date who announces, "I like to read but never books."

Hawley is a real talent, and he should be able to make a show like this work. Eventually, perhaps things will jell and "Generation" can evolve into the primetime soap it so badly needs to be. Until then, it's about as insufferable as wine-sniffing yuppies and carries an odor like day-old deli meat.

Airdate: 8-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23 (ABC)
Production: ABC Studios
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Jaime King, Kelli Garner, Keir O'Donnell, Mehcad Brooks, Daniella Alonso, Julian Morris, Sebastian Sozzi, Anne Son, Elizabeth Keener
Executive producers: Henrik Bastin, Peter Magnusson, Martin Persson, Warren Littlefield, Noah Hawley
Developed by: Noah Hawley
Based on "Blomstertid" TV series by: Peter Magnusson, Martin Persson
Producers: Robert D. Simon, Samantha Thomas
Director: Craig Gillespie
Director of photography: Anthony Wolberg
Production designer: Alison Sadler
Costume designer: Kathleen Kiatta
Casting: David H. Rapaport, Lyndsey Baldasare
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