We hear about fraternity brothers and sorority sisters in American media all the time. I even recall Ritchie and the Fonz once frocked up as sorority girls. It’s an aspect of American culture I don’t really understand, and I’ve never been particularly bothered with that shortcoming. Now, Greek has come along to explain it for me.
The ‘Greek system’, as it’s also known, is a social system for undergraduate college kids, built around alphabet names like Phi Beta Kappa. Many live in on-campus houses alongside senior members who oversee selection of the newer, young students. Underpinned by ceremonies rivalling the selection of the Pope, frats and sororities are the coolest kids on campus. And then there’s hazing…
In Greek, a new drama by the ABC Family Channel, these elite groups form the backdrop for a drama set at Cyprus-Rhodes University.
There have been numerous Generation X, and even Y, ensemble college dramas. The vanilla 90210 hit screens this month, featuring rich white kids struggling to rise above being pallid shadows of their prototypes. Other shows, like Friday Night Lights, have enjoyed critical acclaim (even if TEN buried it in Australia). Gossip Girl is also firing.
Greek is handsomely set, with an affluent college and pretty kids – but thankfully it doesn’t end there. Spearheading the storytelling is Rusty Cartwright (Jacob Zachar, pictured 4th from left), a cute, somewhat geeky kid trying to live the American campus dream of Honours and par-tay-ing. His sister Casey is a sorority president, and the former ex of Rusty’s frat house president. He’s already caught in the middle.
Rusty bunks with the squarest of all campus kids, Dale, a Baptist-bashing, Confederate-supporting bookworm who constantly prays for him to change his heathen ways. But it’s Rusty’s best friend Calvin (Paul James) who could prove the surprise package. A good looking African-American, the streetwise Calvin is invited to join the alpha male frat boys Omega Chi Delta. What nobody realises is that Calvin is gay, snatching clandestine moments behind closed doors. That he’s neither effeminate, a scapegoat, or uncomfortable in his own skin is a significant and promising choice by creator Patrick Sean Smith (Supernatural).
Greek has attracted good buzz in the US and so far, I’m happy to concur. Check it out.
Greek premieres tonight at 8:30pm on FOX8.