Word on the internets today is that despite plunging ratings and flagging interest, Fox has renewed “Glee” for a fourth season. That’s right, folks, “Firefly” got one disjointed year and “Glee” gets at least four. Suck on the bitter injustice, I hear it goes down easier with some whisky. The most compelling/concerning bit of news is that the only series regulars who are confirmed to return are graduating seniors Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith), Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Santana (Naya Rivera). That means, contrary to earlier rumors, the focus of the plot will likely not stay at William McKinley High School but, rather, follow the seniors on their post-grad trajectories. Okay, so, either way we don’t care too much, right? The plot lines and characterization on this show have been convoluted and inconsistent for so long it’s hard to be attached to even the most endearing character (Blaine). And lord knows leaving the high school setting probably means ditching the already irrelevant Mr. Schue. Best idea Ryan Murphy ever had. But transitioning away from a high school can be an incredibly sticky wicket. In fact, some of the best teen-oriented shows (“Friday Night Lights,” “Skins”) opted instead to gradually introduce new students rather than risk going down the collegiate path. What does “Glee” have in store? A new location (New York City) and an all new cast? It’s a gamble, and one that usually doesn’t pay off. Let’s take a look at 8 shows that should have never left high school.
“Veronica Mars”: Rob Thomas’s teenage sleuth show is one of my all-time favorites. But I only own the first two seasons and when I push it on friends and loved ones, I tell them not to bother with the third. Conveniently, Mac, Veronica, Logan, Dick and Wallace all attended the same school: the fictional and conveniently located Hearst College. Pushing that preposterous idea aside you’d still have to contend with the undignified death of a series regular and, worst of all, Piz. Better the show had ended with graduation and Logan and Veronica’s SECOND reconciliation rather than making us endure a third and fourth. Did I mention Piz?
“Beverly Hills 90210”: What if we had just left it with Donna Martin graduating? What if “the gang” had never gone to “California University”? Oh sure, it’s not like this show was ever anything but soapy crap, but at least, during the high school years, it was culturally relevant soapy crap.
“Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”: Oh I know, I know, a lot of good happened on this show after the cast graduated and headed to “UC Sunnydale.” But did anything happen there? The fourth season is perhaps the worst with the class and dorm-oriented plot lines being the weakest. Once Whedon and company gave up on the school-related drama and everyone but Willow and Tara essentially dropped out of UCS, things got better. Season Three is so perfect that, whenever I rewatch, it’s always hard to move on.
“Saved By The Bell: The College Years”: This group also attended “California University.” How weird that they never ran into the crew from West Beverly. At least they didn’t bring back the entire cast. We all know Jesse Spano went to Stansbury. Right?
“Boy Meets World”: I suppose I mostly hate it when intelligent characters eschew top notch colleges for the sake of plot. In this instance, Topanga heads to Pennbrook instead of Yale so she can marry Cory when they’re both, oh, 19? Also, in a particularly audacious twist, Mr. Feeney, their teacher since 6th grade, joins the faculty.
“Gilmore Girls”: As important as Rory’s prep school Chilton was, the setting of Stars Hollow was the real heart of the show. Rory leaving for Yale (at least they didn’t invent a Stars Hollow University) meant less time spent with the quirky townsfolk. Even worse, her time at Yale turned Rory into an entitled, petulant, spoiled idiot: a complete character assassination.
“Dawson’s Creek”: These producers didn’t shoehorn the entire cast into the same school, sending Jen, Joey, Dawson and Pacey in four different but geographically convenient directions. While I wasn’t delighted that it became “The Joey Potter Show” (when it clearly should have been “The Pacey Witter Show” co-starring Busy Phillips) any time spent away from Dawson was welcome. Nonetheless, without the structure of school and town and family it became increasingly unclear why these people were friends.
“The OC”: We all thought the show would drastically improve with the death of Marissa Cooper. We were wrong. Comas, alternate realities and, worst of all, the smug assholes at Brown University. Blech.
Some of Joanna Robinson’s best friends went to Brown University. She kids because she loves.