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TV Review: Freshmen full of promise in 'Diaries'

Friday, August 29, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette Tv Editor

If you enjoyed the short-lived "American High" on Fox and PBS, it's time to graduate to Showtime's "Freshman Dia-ries," premiering at 11 p.m. Sunday.


'Freshman Diaries'

WHEN: 11 p.m. Sunday on Showtime.


This new series is from executive producer R.J. Cutler, who also helmed "American High." Now he's moving on up, following a different group of 12 teens as they take their first steps out of the familiar family nest.

On first glance, "Freshman Diaries" seems like an opportunistic effort to clone the previous show, but high school students and college freshmen have travails that are particular to each. Though some of the stories have echoes of the high schoolers who preceded them, these University of Texas at Austin freshmen have access to a lot more of one particular substance: alcohol.

It flows freely and ends up as almost another character in the first two episodes. No parents, few rules, even the most rigid of students -- that would be play-by-the-rules Nicole -- get a little wild.

But "Diaries" doesn't dwell only on "Animal House" antics. It also gets into the lives of the students and their particular burdens. Casey wants to study theater, but her bully of a father wants her to study computer science even though she has no aptitude for it and has no interest in it.

Flamboyantly gay Luis and not-so-stereotypical Neil must deal with their homosexuality. Neil is particularly conflicted when he develops a crush on his female friend, Hannah.

Life-of-the-party Kyle isn't ready for his high school years to end, and yet he finds friendships from that time slipping away, even among friends who are attending the same college.

Fans of the docudrama genre won't be disappointed by this glimpse at a time in life when the world is full of possibilities, which makes it equally exciting and terrifying.

You can reach Rob Owen at 412-263-2582 . Post questions or comments to under TV Forum.

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