Maybe you don’t like fraternities and sororities. Maybe you hate nepotism and therefore refuse to watch a show starring Kelsey Grammer’s daughter. Or maybe you’re just inherently opposed to anything on ABC Family. Whatever the reason, odds are that you haven’t discovered Greek, a dramedy about college life that returns with the second half of its first season tonight at 8pm on ABC Family. I’m here to tell you it’s well worth watching.
Greek is one of the most likable shows on TV, full of wit and emotional drama. It follows mismatched siblings Rusty and Casey Cartwright (Jacob Zachar and Spencer Grammer) as they navigate Greek life at the same college. He is a nerdy physics savant who longs to break out of his shell while she is the newly minted president of her sorority.
The first 10 episodes cleverly leap-frogged over many pitfalls that might plague a similar series. Casey’s shame over having such a dorky brother are quickly vanquished as she tries to be a caring sister. Rather than manufacture a series of events in which she is embarrassed by Rusty, the show is more concerned with observing a large cross-section of student life.
The new episodes pick up at the start of spring semester. A scathing indictment of Greek life in the campus newspaper (written by Rusty’s sorority girlfriend Jen K.) caused the administration to crack down on some of the wild parties and antics the fraternities and sororities have promoted. The president of Zeta Beta Zeta was ousted, clearing the way for Casey to serve as interim president. Casey also broke up with long-time boyfriend and Omega Chi Delta president Evan (Jake McDorman)over his infidelity with freshman ZBZ pledge Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria). This paved the way for Casey to reunite with former boyfriend, and Evan’s arch-rival, Cappie (Scott Michael Foster), president of Kappa Tau Gamma. Unfortunately for her, he too recently slept with Rebecca.
These romantic entanglements may seem a bit excessive and cliché, but the show somehow manages to find depth to all the characters. Cappie isn’t just the goofy slacker, but a reliable friend and earnest guy who was emotionally crippled by his break-up with Casey. Evan isn’t just a stock villain in the mold of Ted McGinley’s character in Revenge of the Nerds, but he’s a sympathetic yet flawed guy.
The true reasons to watch, however, are the fascinating characters who befriend Rusty. His roommate Dale (Clark Duke) is a fellow physics nerd with a deep love for God. He preaches abstinence and hangs a Confederate flag in their dorm room, yet Duke is such a talented comedic actor (as anyone who saw his web series with Arrested Development‘s Michael Cera can attest) that he makes Dale funny instead of scary.
The other reason to watch is Calvin Owens (Paul James), an athletic African-American student who pledges Omega Chi, and who also happens to be gay. While he kept this a secret from his brothers (while maintaining a Romeo and Juliet-like relationship with a rival from Kappa Tau), his sorority friend Ashleigh (Amber Stevens) accidentally outed him to the whole fraternity.
Even if Greek doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it’s worth experiencing because it may surprise you. In many ways, the show resembles the Judd Apatow TV world, a cross between Freaks and Geeks (Zachar, who plays Rusty, even looks like John Francis Daley) and Undeclared, particularly the episodes that focused on frat life. Greek is smarter than you’d expect from a show about sororities, it’s sweeter than you’d expect from a show about fraternities, and it’s a whole lot better than you’d expect from the network that has recently specialized in straight-to-cable sequels of movies like Bring It On or The Cutting Edge.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)