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Buffalo News review of Greek, the new TV show

The Buffalo News
Disney series takes a mature look at Greek life
July 6, 2007
Alan Pergament

When you think of the Greek fraternity system in college, the words
“now there’s a heartwarming Disney TV series” don’t immediately come to
mind.

After all, one doesn’t normally associate underage drinking and sex with
Disney shows.

Which is why it is a smart idea for parents to see what Disney’s basic
cable channel, ABC Family, is selling in the new tween and teen series,
“Greek,” from Patrick Sean Smith (“Wildfire,” “Summerland”

). It
premieres at 9 p.m. Monday.

“Greek” has the usual Disney mix of family, humor, life lessons and
moral dilemmas. But it doesn’t avoid experimentations with alcohol or
sex, which may make the series more adult and honest about college life
than some parents would prefer. After all, the channel appeals to
children considerably younger than college age.

Speaking of parents, Kelsey Grammer has to be a proud one since the
series stars his attractive daughter, Spencer Grammer. She plays Casey,
a pretty blonde who is heavy in sorority politics and considers her
extremely bright younger brother, Rusty (Jacob Zachar), such a liability
that she has denied his existence for years.

“Guys in fraternities are hot and don’t study engineering,” Casey
cruelly tells her brother.

To her horror, Rusty has chosen the same college, Cyprus- Rhodes, where
he can alternately embarrass his socialclimbing sister and protect her.

Casey is a popular girl with a rich boy friend and fraternity leader,
Evan (Jake McDorman), who is considered a catch even though he is
ethically challenged.

Besides protecting his sister and getting good grades, Rusty seems
determined to have a good time and overcome stereotypes. He cluelessly
believed that might be easier once he left home. Zachar does an
excellent job playing a naive freshman who doesn’t immediately
understand that the college world is divided into cool and uncool camps.
Rusty is the show’s most sympathetic and likable character, a guy who
wants to change his image without changing his ethics.

His roommate, Dale (Clark Duke), is a fellow engineering nerd who has
what could be an added collegiate burden. He is deeply religious. The
character could become a stereotype, but Dale eventually gives his
roommate some excellent advice that illustrates he isn’t only around to
make fun of his values.

The good-looking and racially diverse cast also includes Amber Stevens
as Casey’s best friend, Ashleigh; Paul James as one of Rusty’s new
friends, Calvin; Dilshad Vadsaria as Rebecca, a flirtatious senator’s
daughter and prize pledge; and Scott Michael Foster as Casey’s
funloving, ex-boyfriend, Cappie.

The pilot episode sets up all the relationships with some good humor.
However, don’t kid yourself. This is college, time for experimentation.
The students don’t always pass the ethics tests they face and seem to
accept each other’s serious moral lapses surprisingly well.

One imagines that not all parents will endorse all of the show’s
behavior, but at least like almost all Disney productions, “Greek” has
its heart in the right place.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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