Sunday, October 08, 2006

An Unfabulous Post

OVERVIEW/BACKGROUND: Unfabulous is a live-action show starring Emma Roberts which currently airs on Nickelodeon. I haven't really written too much about Nick on this blog, because I consider children's cartoons to be out of the scope of this blog and I also consider all of the live action teen shows to be pale imitations of Disney Channel shows. Back in the early nineties, Nick had a complete monopoly on live action shows for the younger set, what with Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains It All, and whatnot. All people my age remember those shows fondly from their youths. But then, they decided to put their focus on children's cartoons, at which they've been really successful, and let Disney Channel take over the live action set. Because their live action shows all blow, except for this one.

THE SHOW: This show follows the Lizzie McGuire formula closely, and it debuted in late 2004, shortly after Lizzie vaulted into super-success, so it's probably fair to say that it's a ripoff. Let's see, main character is an everygirl female, not popular but with two best friends, a girl and a platonic guy friend. One sibling, an older brother, with whom she has a rocky but ultimately loving relationship. Hmm, nope not too similar. The main character is Addie, her brother is named Ben, and her crush is named Jake. An interesting twist is that they have Addie date somebody else for a while, a loser named Randy, who she ultimately breaks up with so that she can continue to pursue her pining for Jake. There's no real central theme to this show, as, like Lizzie, it really just follows the everyday trials and tribulations of its main character, with wacky slapstick thrown in to lighten the mood.

REVIEW: The thing about the Lizzie format is that for shows in this mold, the most important thing is really the main star. The episodes' plots are generally mundane by design, the characters are basically all stereotypes, and the dialogue, while important is nothing to write home about. What makes it all work is how well the main actress sells it. She has to be believably unpopular, but yet loveable. It's a tough balancing act to pull off, but I have to say that Emma Roberts pulls it off really well. She's absolutely a pro at this, far better than Miley Cyrus or Charlotte Arnold or really any other female teen star except Kay and Aly. She makes the whole material work, and makes you really care about the characters. The show also features a fairly talented cast of costars, but Addie is the reason you're gonna watch. Plus the music/soundtrack is kickin'. I love the concept of Addie/Emma just singing stupid and simple songs about her life.

As a demonstration of the above dig the perfect generic/everygirl short episode summaries of this show from Wikipedia:
Instead of spending time with her mother in a "mother daughter book club" Addie sneaks out and goes to a hip hangout place with Geena.
Addie becomes "popular" in a school assignment where the students are put into cliques and not allowed to talk to members of other groups.
Randy invites Addie to his Bar Mitzvah, but Addie does not want to go because she got braces and does not want to be seen in public.
Addie ignores her friends to spend more time with her boyfriend.
Geena and Zach create a fake secret crush for Addie to try to keep her mind off breaking up with Randy.

Seriously change around the names, and you've got a Lizzie McGuire episode in the making. But the generic/easily identifiable plots are what make shows like this so much fun, and plus...Emma!

"THE PERFECT MOMENT": Billed as the Unfabulous movie this aired for the first time just this weekend. (But yet it's just an hour long. Not even Disney has sunk that low [yet]). The episode details Addie's attempt to crash the wedding of Jake's cousin, in order to reveal her crush on him. The problem is that he is at the wedding with his ex-girlfriend/Addie's chief social rival. In parallel, Addie's brother Ben is trying to break up his current crush's new relationship in order to have her to himself. The whole "movie" was pretty great really, it hit all the right notes, and is making me really excited for the impending third season. Plus the first kiss between Addie and Jake was just soo cute.

THE OFFICIAL OPINION OF THE TCR: Since Phil of the Future has been cancelled and Hannah Montana seems to have stagnated out, Unfabulous is currently the best teen/pre-teen show on television. Highly recommended to watch, for Emma if not anything else.

As if it were healthy or desirable to get any more excited about this upcoming Nancy Drew movie project, it stars my newly beloved teen star Emma Roberts in addition to the Official TCR Actress Kay Panabaker. Counting down the days...

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