Sunday, March 27, 2011

Undeclared: The Complete Series by Judd Apatow

Undeclared: The Complete Series
Created by Judd Apatow
Starring Seth Rogen and Jason Segel
Run time 615 minutes

Plot Summary: Steven Carp (played by Jay Baruchel) is just starting as a Freshman in college. He meets his roommates, a wise cracking Seth Rogen, a Brit who is popular with the ladies, and an all around crazy dunce. Steven has a crush on Lizzie, but she has a boyfriend. Steven and company go through the difficulties of college, anywhere from paying to get a paper written to getting a job to dealing with a parent's divorce. The friendship and potential relationship between Steven and Lizzie and the tension involved in Lizzie's boyfriend are the driving forces of the show.

Critical Analysis: Undeclared plays as a foil to Judd Apatow's other failed teen-based series Freaks and Geeks. While the latter was a more emotional take on teen life, the former is a more comedy based look at college life.

The casting was very good, many of these actors, such as Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, went on to have successful film careers. The overall sincerity and empathy that Apatow clearly has for individuals in this situation endears the show to its viewers. Each show did not go so far as to have a "lesson," but a new thing was learned about each character in each episode. The writers were very equal opportunity in characterizing each individual.

Unfortunately, most of the way through the series, it was floundering in ratings. In light of this, Judd Apatow desperately brought in celebrities for cameos, which cheapened the impact of later episodes. Although Will Farrell as a paper writing guru and Adam Sandler as himself were entertaining, they added very little to the show overall. It is a shame that Apatow's clever TV shows did not enjoy continued success, but sometimes one shot series' are the best because they don't have time to get stale.

Reader's Annotation: Steven Carp has a long hard road ahead of him at college. Will he be able to make it through unscathed?

Author Information: Other than this show, Judd Apatow created Freaks and Geeks and has directed a few films including Knocked Up and Funny People.

Genre: teen comedy, college humor, sitcom

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: Is Apatow's vision of college accurate? What did he get right and wrong?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14 to adult

Challenge Issues: N/A

Why I included this title: Much like his other work on Freaks and Geeks, Apatow accurately and sympathetically portrays the highs and lows of the lives of young people. His characters are funny, dramatic, and are not perfect, much like the rest of us. I'd recommend this show to anyone, but I think teens especially would be smart to watch this accurate and funny interpretation of freshman year of college.

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