Being that this is a pilot, and that pilots usually aren’t representative of an entire series, I’d prefer save all my opinionated stuff until the end rather than unload it on you right now before you’ve even read anything. So here I’ll quickly go over the premise and then get right to recapping.
My Generation is about nine high school students from Austin who graduated back in 2000. That was all filmed for a documentary. And now, in 2010, the documentary crew has returned to see what they’ve all been up to.
So we start off with the “documentary-within-the-show” portion. There’s going to be a filmmaker narrating things occasionally. Here, she sets up the year 2000…they use clips of Britney Spears, Bill Clinton, play some Eminem in there, and pan over a yearbook with videos of our high school students edited in where pictures would be…
Windows Movie Maker at its finest
Each high school student gets a second to introduce himself or herself. Since there are nine of them, it’s a shit-ton of information, but let’s go over that now…
Here’s Rolly Marks. Star basketball player. Very optimistic. Thinks George Bush II is gonna be awesome.
Which I admit made me laugh out loud. I THINK the writers wanted that.
Although, I have to say, this is the only mention they make of Dubya in this episode, and they completely gloss over the particular Texas pride everyone here would have had. Having lived in Houston in 2000, it was a big deal that the Republican candidate was from our state.
Jackie Vachs. Head cheerleader. Sexpot. “A face that ruined a thousand Kleenex.” After graduation she wants to be an actor. Which really means she’s headed for a huge life disappointment, because that’s what that means.
Steven Foster. Or, “President Foster” to you.
Dawn Barbuso’s boobs.
Here’s Dawn herself. A punk. It’s probably inappropriate for an adult documentary filmmaker to train the camera on an underage high school student’s boobs. And stupid for that filmmaker to put the footage IN the documentary.
Caroline Chung. Wallflower? I didn’t know that term was still in use. Today it would be “suicide threat.”
Kenneth Finley. Nerd. Most likely everyone has given him a derogatory nickname. “Grund Sweat,” for instance.
Still not done. Here is Brenda Serrano. Overachiever.
And finally, Anders Holt. He’s rich, but he realizes the secret to life is being happy about being rich.
Wait, there’s one more. Fuck.
The Falcon. I can see why they saved HIM for last! Quirky!
He needs another picture. Here he is defiantly casting his spray can aside:
They call him “the rock star.” He’s probably drawn about 1,000 anarchy symbols on every available surface in that school. Anders did the same thing with penises.
And that’s the gang. Did you notice how none of the characters have Texan accents? Having lived in Texas, I can say for certain that Texans have Texan accents.
Then the filmmaker gets them all together and asks them each to sum up their futures in one word…
Caroline: (no response, too shy)
Falcon: mp3’s! What does that mean? You’ll see! (already he displays a tendency to mug for the cameras, but in an irritating way)
This looks like a binge-drinking poster they show college freshmen. “It’s all fun and games until someone ASPHYXIATES, like this boy did.”
The filmmaker then narrates some stuff about how optimistic everyone was back then, and how things have changed now, and then summarizes the following decade…9/11, Iraq, reality TV, (wink! You’re so ironic, ABC), Katrina, the recession, and Barack Obama.
Now it’s time to see what everyone’s been up to for the first ten years. First, Steven:
He might be successful, right? Maybe he got rich like Mark Zuckerberg and he bought an island so he can surf on it.
He fills us in…went to college, didn’t graduate, became a bartender. He “reads a lot.” They don’t say what. I’m gonna imagine he reads Highlights magazine and nothing else. One night at the bar, the cameras catch two amazingly hot ladies just walk up to him and give him a phone number, out of the blue. Very nice.
The filmmaker asks him what he thinks about that one word he used to describe his future, “success.” He feels like he is one. Somehow he’s making his life of surfing, reading, tending bar, and laying hot women with literally no effort work for himself. Got it.
She also asks him why he didn’t graduate, but he won’t say. It’s Significant.
This filmmaker is pretty pushy. Definitely a Michael Moore, not an Errol Morris.
No way I go in that water. Dusk is when sharks are most active. I’ll do my poignant staring across the horizon on the beach, thank you.
Next we check in with Brenda Serrano, the Brain.
Washington DC, power suit, walkin’ and talking’ on her way to help President Bartlet.
She’s a DC lawyer, working for a Massachusetts congressman who’s the head of the House Finance Committee. Right now she’s helping write a bill to regulate the banks.
The filmmaker asks Brenda why she didn’t become a scientist like she thought she would Brenda says, “Well, the world…it just changed so dramatically after high school.”
Specifically, she was a science major at George Washington University, but then Bush v. Gore happened, and she became inspired to go into politics. Funny, that’s the exact reason I went nowhere near politics.
The filmmaker lays all this out, not her, so we don’t really learn what about her was political before Bush v. Gore, or what the moment she changed her mind was like, or about anything she did during eight years of the Bush Administration. (I assume she’s a Democrat). Hopefully they’ll go into this somewhere down the road.
She’s sitting in a restaurant waiting for someone, and surprise, it’s Falcon!
Surprise! I’m a hipster now!
Falcon sits down and orders a margarita for himself, even though it’s lunchtime. He seems surprised the cameras are there. He’s in DC for some gig of his, as he’s now a DJ and producer.
Brenda seems distracted and ill-at-ease, like she feels obligated to be here. She tries to be polite when she hears about Falcon’s gig, and pretends she watched his music video when he sent it around to everyone:
Does anyone know what the hell kind of music this guy does? I was thinking it would be hip hop but…what is this, indie rock? Is it anything?
But really she’s more into her Blackberry. The scene ends with a bunch of expository conversation. We learn Brenda isn’t dating or married, used to be into Anders, and that Anders is now married to…Jackie the cheerleading beauty queen. Let’s jump over to her.
She and Anders are in their McMansion about to have a mid-afternoon rich people snack—prosciutto, cheese and crackers, expensive wine. They took a class to learn how to taste that wine and what to pair it with.
I really do like the upper-middle class boredom taking the form of trying to make food more interesting. Hilarious.
The filmmaker sits them down and because we have seven other characters to deal with, they get right to the Revealing Questions and Answers…Jackie feels trapped in the marriage, (she can’t remember the anniversary, he can), she’s still upset about Anders being in love with Brenda back in high school, and Jackie did try to go into acting. Her high-water mark was being rejected on season two of The Bachelor. (He can’t remember the exact season, she can).
Really this could have been summed up with two tee-shirts. Jackie’s would say: “Hey! I’m an unfulfilled house wife!” and Anders’s would say, “Am I still in love with my high school sweetheart? Probably!”
I think she’s literally going to become Lucille Bluth
No big deal, they have a lot to get through. I do want to see why it is that they got married. In this scene Anders says they barely knew each other in high school, so there’s something potentially interesting here.
Then the show cuts back to Steve. He gets a phone call at the bar. It’s Caroline Chung, the wallflower.
Turns out they slept together on prom night, which we learn because Steve can’t remember her and this is how she jogs his memory. She’s calling because she has some important information to blurt out: they have a son. Yeah, she should have told Steve earlier. But the son wants to meet Steve, so, better late than never.
Sierra Mist has a commercial with some sentient rocks who fantasize about being able to perform fellatio and cunnilingus on each other. So now companies are allowed to do basically anything to get you to remember their products. Good to know!
Now we check in with Kenneth. He’s currently a Mr. Holland-style elementary school teacher in Austin.
I think the kids can tell he’s trying too hard, though
Which is because he’s overcompensating for not having kids of his own. And he rides a bike with a dorky helmet, so they’re trying pretty clearly to say “loser.”
He also used to date Dawn in high school. They’re living together now, so that’s good, except they’re just roommates. This is because she’s married to and knocked up by Rolly, who is currently a soldier in Afghanistan. Dawn recently lost her job, so he’s letting her room with him while Rolly is away.
God knows what’s happened on that duvet. I wouldn’t be rolling around on it if I were you, Dawn.
The filmmaker asks Kenneth if he has any other marriage prospects, and we learn Caroline’s son, (who’s also Steve’s son), is in Kenneth’s class.
They cut to a parent-teacher conference with Kenneth and Caroline. Her son Tom is apparently having some trouble in class, and Kenneth asks if Tom wanting to see his father might have something to do with it. But really Kenneth is trying to suss out her marital status, because he has no idea who Tom’s father is or if he’s in the picture.
Caroline tells him that might be the reason. These days Tom is upset because his dad is in town but hasn’t called. She lets slip that Tom’s father “came back to town,” so Kenneth realizes it’s someone from Austin, and uncomfortably she admits it’s Steve.
Kenneth seems crushed. Why? Because he and Steve used to be BFF’s. There are some cuts back to the original documentary that handily show how Steve would protect Kenneth from bullies, and they would eat lunch together and play horse and stuff.
He was class president AND friends with the nerds? Give this character a medal for likeability!
Then it’s over to Steve as he’s arriving back in Austin and is staying with his mom. The filmmaker asks him about his father, and apparently Steve refuses to talk about him. There’s a Big Secret or something. My prediction: molesting marching band director.
We learn Steve hasn’t called Caroline yet. He says he’s excited about fatherhood but he’s obviously terrified. In the middle of the interview he gets a call from Caroline and lies that his flight to Austin got cancelled and he’s not in town yet.
He steps outside to take the call, and on the street he runs into Jackie. She assumes Steve is in town for Dawn’s upcoming baby shower, but he tells her he’s just generally visiting. They start to catch up. Jackie learns about Steve’s awesome Hawaii lifestyle and practically creams herself in excitement about it, being a bored housewife herself. She also tells Steve she’s sorry about his dad, and he quickly changes the subject. So Something Happened to his dad.
She brings him up to speed on her own life. Steve’s surprised to learn she married Anders, and then she asks Steve if he’d like to have a drink. He’s reluctant, but she steamrolls him into it.
She thinks she’s giving her phone number, but it might as well say “Trapped in marriage! Send help!”
Then we cut over to Anders as he’s buffing down his car with a mink glove.
The only other person I’ve seen do this is the Connery James Bond
They remind us how Anders and Brenda were an item back in high school, even prom king and queen. The filmmaker asks him why they didn’t stay together, and he gives a bland “people change” answer that’s clearly hiding his pain. Then the filmmaker asks what his parents thought of Brenda, and he ends the interview.
Calm down, Anders. Ugh
Then it’s over to Brenda in DC. She’s working a late night when one of her coworkers comes into her office to ask if she wants to be set up on a date. She’s adamant that she doesn’t. By (non) coincidence, she’s looking at Anders and Jackie’s wedding photos on Facebook. But the camera catches her, she notices, looks shocked, and to overcompensate, changes her mind about the blind date.
We come back to Steve now. He’s at his Mom’s house. Falcon stops by for a visit. He’s still overly aware of the cameras and has a vaguely hostile attitude towards them. He’s also clearly being set up to be a slang machine. When Steve tells him he ran into Jackie, and might have a date with her, Falcon says:
“She’s like the Mount Everest of biddies, yo! She should be a picture on a wall somewhere.”
“I found the word “biddie” on Urban Dictionary, yo!”
Then we rejoin Kenneth. The filmmaker is asking him about a new plan he’s cooked up, which he’s very excited about. Since he doesn’t have a family or children, the next best thing is…donating to a sperm bank. Since he doesn’t have a family of his own, he’s going to help someone ELSE start a family. As he says, “I’m really excited about all the women who will use my sperm!”
Man, where to begin with this one? I’m pretty sure most people like Kenneth want families because of the “intimacy with others” angle, not the “passing along my genes to as many women as possible” angle. I like that he’s so lost he’s become a white supremacist.
“Under ‘race’ can you put Indo-Aryan?”
And, the documentary crew helpfully follows him into the clinic to videotape his confidential medical evaluation. This is how we learn he’s a virgin and his father died when he was 19, he’s uncomfortable talking about it, and it wasn’t due to an illness.
Seriously, why does he let this be filmed? I would have LOVED a scene of the filmmaker arguing with him about that. Oh well.
Last, the sperm bank nurse asks him if he wants any porn, and he declines, because he has an…um…“image” in his head.
Boom Dawn’s face!
Speaking of which, we haven’t heard from her yet. Here she is, very pregnant and waiting to Skype with Rolly. She can’t really explain to the filmmaker how she, the punk, ended up with Rolly, the jock, and in a moment of more ironic self-awareness, the writers have her say how much she dislikes “cliques” and “labels” like jock, or punk, because they’re totally useless unless you’re making a TV show and have a lot of information to cover. Shorthand is handy that way.
Then Rolly logs on.
For a guy in a combat zone, he looks fantastic
They talk about missing each other, but Rolly quickly says he’s uncomfortable with her staying at Kenneth’s. More information is revealed…Rolly is Anders’s best friend, and the only reason Dawn isn’t staying with Anders and Jackie is because she thinks Jackie is a stuck-up bitch.
Rolly lets the matter drop for now, because he’s got some serious blue balls. Dawn asks the cameras to pan away so she can give him a look at her boobs. But when the cameras do, they catch Kenneth coming through the door, and he sees everything.
He runs from the room as Rolly and Dawn are amazed at how much the pregnancy has enlarged ‘em.
Then they jump over to Rolly’s storyline. He’s riding along in a Humvee and looks at a sonogram Dawn sent him. One of his soldiers, (who calls Rolly “sir,” even though he’s a non-com. Oops), jokes about it looking like a boy, not a girl.
They fill in Rolly’s bio. He and Anders were best friends their whole lives and had both plans to get married and be next-door neighbors. Also, Anders’s parents were against him dating Brenda.
Their childhood was very cute, if you like cute things
Rolly got a full basketball scholarship to Stanford. But then 9/11 happened and he left basketball for the military.
“One and Fun” doesn’t seem like a very appropriate headline about a guy leaving college basketball to go to war. Oh, wait, they were referring to him going pro. Never mind.
The doc-within-the-show wasn’t allowed to follow Rolly into Afghanistan because the “Army wouldn’t let them,” (riiiiiiiight. Pussies). But a Dutch news crew did get embedded in Rolly’s unit, so they can show footage or Rolly in battle.
Notice how carefully engineered this is so that they’re saying nothing about the war other than “We Support the Soldier with the Unborn Baby!” I’m guessing ABC won’t take a point of view beyond this. I could be wrong. We’ll see.
Next it’s over to Kenneth’s class. He’s giving out a test when his phone rings. It’s the sperm bank. They have some news. Kenneth steps out into the hallway, and he reveals that he’s infertile.
If you enjoy seeing newly born calves getting punched in the face, you will love this scene
Now they’re filling us in more on Anders and Brenda’s history together. They used to be super-duper head-over-heels in love the way only high school students can be…
But now Brenda is on that blind date she got set up with. His name is Mickey. The guy playing Mickey you’ll remember from that other show set in Austin.
Glen, aka, the guy who tried to kiss Tami Taylor
Rather than get to know Brenda, or let her get to know him, via a normal conversation, Mickey decides to tell her everything about himself right off the bat. Corporate lawyer. Loves musicals. Loves Catherine Zeta-Jones movies. Drives a Prius. Recycles. Loves working out but isn’t a fanatic about it. Likes to read, but magazines, not books, and sometimes newspapers. And finally, has a small penis but knows how to use it.
Also, Mickey eats olives that were brought to the table and leaves the pits on his bread plate—the documentary camera helpfully zooms in on this.
Mickey then asks Brenda to give her own list. And in response, she gets up from the table, grabs her coat, considers saying something to make a exit, decides not to, and leaves.
That was awesome. Seriously, that’s the only way I wanted this scene to end, and they did it.
Next comes Dawn’s bridal shower. Many of the classmates are in attendance. Dawn and Jackie make small talk, barely concealing their dislike of each other. Luckily Caroline arrives and Dawn can gravitate over to her. They’re buds.
Caroline then spots Falcon and goes over to chat with him. Upon seeing Caroline, Falcon actually says, “Awwwwww, snizzap.” I’m pretty sure Snoop Dogg himself doesn’t even talk like that any more.
He also says she “looks all House of Diddy,” which Urban Dictionary describes as “a bad, (good looking) girl. House of Diddy refers to girls like cassie, signed under diddy’s label.” Apparently it was part of a lyric in a Lil’ Wayne song. I had to look that up because I’m not “hip” like Falcon is.
But Caroline really wants to know if Falcon has seen Steve lately, because she knows they’re friends. He says he doesn’t want to get in between them about their “baby thing,” (oops), so she cuts to the chase—her son Tom thinks he’s seeing his dad this week, so Falcon had better tell Steve to shape up.
As Falcon is saying he hears her loud and clear, Dawn announces she wants to give a toast. She thanks everyone for coming and says she’s very excited to have the kid. She starts to say that if Rolly were able to be here he’d feel the same way, but the emotion keeps her from getting all the way through it. Christine has to rush in and comfort her.
Next, Steve is sitting on a bench somewhere, on the phone with Falcon, who’s warning him to get in touch with Christine. He knows he should, but he’s still waffling, tries to blame his reluctance on his issues with his dad.
But then who should pull up in her car but Christine, with Tom in the back seat. She found him somehow? She gets out and nearly confronts him for lying about being out of town, but seems to want to avoid causing a scene, so instead abruptly introduces Steve to Tom, through the car window.
Steve, being completely unprepared, totally eats it. This was probably my favorite scene of the episode. He completely half-asses trying to plan an outing with them, and the best he can come up with to say to Tom is, “Hey, maybe I can teach you how to be a ninja some time!” Then he does a karate chop, and then asks Christine if that was racist. She’s speechless, so she gets back in the car and drives off.
Proving that any generation can be pretty bad at parenting
Back in DC Brenda’s coworker who set her up with Mickey drops by for the post mortem. All she can say is, watching Mickey eat is not pretty, and the coworker says, “Yeah, you should see him with a hot dog.” (What the hell does that even mean?)
Her phone rings. She picks up and answers in Spanish. Her Dad is on the other end. Her Mom had a stroke, so she has to go back to Austin. She hangs up and heads out immediately.
Kenneth, meanwhile, is sitting in front of a headstone in a cemetery somewhere, looking like the saddest man in the world because of his infertility.
The headstone belongs to a guy named “Michael Finley,” probably his Dad. After a while he gets up and heads to a bar to drink away the day.
Then Steve comes through the door, also to get hammered. Kenneth recognizes him. He does not look pleased to see him.
Steve soon spots Kenneth, looking surprised. He starts to say hello, but Kenneth appears enraged. He gets up, yells, “It’s all your fault!” and knocks Steve off his barstool. On Steve’s stunned look, Kenneth storms out.
Here we get more of Steve’s backstory. After college he went to an Ivy League college and was doing really well during his freshman year. But…Steve’s father worked for Enron! Was a top executive, even! He got arrested to fraud and sent to jail for six years! And Steve had to drop out of college!
And Kenneth’s father lost all his savings because of Enron and killed himself. So Kenny and Steve aren’t exactly on speaking terms.
Enron affected a lot of people. Even me. Because I lived in Houston I’m an Astros fan. Our stadium USED to be called “Enron Field,” but now it has to be called “Minute Maid Field.”
After their barroom scuffle, Steve heads over to a different bar where he’s supposed to meet Jackie. He sits nursing a beer, looking glum, but when Jackie taps him on the shoulder he seems to cheer up. They head away for a drink in private, but before they do, Jackie turns to the documentary crew and tells them to fuck off.
Kenneth, meanwhile, returns to his house. He’s plastered. Dawn’s already there. They are setting it up like Kenneth is about to make a huuuuuuge mistake.
She teases him about missing the baby shower, and he tells her he got her a gift. He pulls a gift bag out from behind the couch. It’s a Baby Bjorn baby carrier.
Dawn is delighted and urges him to put it on. She gets it on him, stuffs it with a teddy bear, and asks him how he feels, oblivious to how miserable he looks. He tries to say he feels great, but has to take it off.
Then she says he should get used to it, because he’s part of the family now. Uncle Kenneth.
Did you enjoy the crucifixion sequence in Passion of the Christ? You will love this scene
Time to start wrapping the episode up. Jackie and Steve are enjoying their drinks, and she tells him how lucky he is not to have anything tying him down anywhere. But that makes him feel guilty, so he goes outside and calls Christine. He leaves her a voicemail saying he really does want to give fatherhood a shot.
Then shots of everyone. Christine reading to Tom. Kenneth watching TV as Dawn sleeps on his lap. Rolly sitting on a Humvee, staring off thoughtfully. Brenda arriving at the airport. Anders re-watching being crowned prom king, with Brenda as his queen. Jackie and Steve on the dance floor at the club, with her rubbin’ on him. And Falcon, DJing like ten feet away from that.
One way I evaluate a show is, what’s unique about it? Take Rescue Me, another show I recapped on this site. Even though, yeah, RM had a ton of flaws, are you going to find another show with that tone, that sense of humor, that specifically Catholic worldview, or those kinds of stories? No way. Love it or hate it, it was specific.
It definitely SEEMED like My Generation was going for broke in the differentiation department, that they’d be dealing with problems unique to, or at least inspired by, what’s happened over the last ten years. But really it’s a nine-person character drama masquerading as a sweeping, zeitgeist-y social issues drama. I’m just wondering, why bother with making it specific to 2000-2010?
Maybe character drama is the direction they’re going in, and they’ll gradually stop paying lip service to huge world events. Too early to tell. Like I said, I’m hesitant to make a judgment after only the pilot episode.
But seriously, they should either start doing Southern accents or change the location to Anytown, USA. Jesus.