quarterlife

Premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26

Regular schedule: 9 p.m. Sundays (beginning March 2)

WTHR (Channel 13)

You’ve probably heard of quarterlife, even if you haven’t already seen it. It’s the series Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick debuted on the Internet, in episodes of roughly 7-13 minutes. NBC subsequently bought the show, and the network will air it in edited-for-TV hour-long installments.

That’s an unusual way for a show to find its way to broadcast television, but quarterlife is hardly a new concept. It’s actually the perfect middle ground between Herskovitz and Zwick’s two best-known series, thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. And if the two episodes NBC sent are indicative of the quality, then quarterlife will rank nicely with those series.

quarterlife follows six 20-somethings at the crossroads of their young lives. The cast is all but unknown (the only familiar face may be Michelle Lombardo, who was a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model), and that lack of baggage makes it much easier to get involved in their lives.

We do that almost immediately. The first thing we see is overly dramatic Dylan (Bitsie Tulloch) videoblogging about herself and her slightly self-absorbed friends’ lives. Quickly, we learn about her roommates, would-be singer Lisa (Maite Schwartz) and Debra the hottie (Lombardo), who’s hooking up with handsome Danny (David Walton), whose best friend, artistic Jed (Scott Michael Foster), secretly loves Debra. Jed is Danny’s partner in a fledgling video production company where techie geek Andy (Kevin Christy) also works.

Dylan shares their secrets on her blog, conveniently called “quarterlife,” which initially infuriates her friends. But they all come to see the upside of having their stories shared with the rest of the world. (Not being in the demographic, I can’t imagine enjoying seeing my secret desires and crushes broadcast for Internet voyeurs to dissect. But given how much teens and 20-somethings reveal on MySpace and Facebook, quarterlife’s story rings true.)

When Dylan isn’t revealing secrets, we’re watching the gang trying to get their careers started and their personal lives in order. Can wannabe-writer Dylan rise above low-level magazine editor? Will Lisa become an actress, a singer or an alcoholic? Will Debra stop living off her parents? Who will end up with whom?

Yes, quarterlife is soapy, but the cast is uniformly good (and good looking). It’s entertaining and intelligent and feels real, with the exception of some instances of stilted dialogue.

Jed: You fill me with …

Debra: With what?

Jed: (long pause) Longing.

For a show that regularly gets it right, dialogue like that is just odd. Happily, there are many more scenes and interactions that make us want to follow along.

We never got to find out what happened to My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano. quarterlife won’t answer that question exactly, but it may be as close as we’ll get.

 

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