Greek has been a delightful show for the last three years. The B-plots are often silly, and there’s no real edge to the depiction of frat life. But the writers have developed a likeable group of core characters, and expanded each beyond a single dimension by writing to the actors’ strengths.
ABC Family announced in February this fourth season would be Greek’s last. The show with that kind of final notice is rare, which gives me every reason to hope for a great signoff with the focus of a show that squeezed just over two years of college into four seasons. Hit the jump for a review of the first two episodes of season four.
Where we left off: Casey (Spencer Grammer) was rejected by CRU Law, which sends her off to George Washington University and into a breakup with Cappie (Scott Michael Foster). Evan (Jake McDorman) and Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria) are back together, more committed than ever. Rusty (Jacob Zachar) is in nerd love with his lab partner Dana (Martha MacIsaac). Calvin (Paul James) schemes his way into the Omega Chi presidency. Dale (Clark Duke) is… Dale. And Ashleigh (Amber Stevens) is inspired to pursue a ridiculous career in “trend forecasting.”
Where we pick up: Casey, Ashleigh, and Evan graduate, something Cappie has no intent to do anytime soon. The only departing words a geographically jilted Cappie can muster on graduation day to his true love are “Nice hat.” Flash forward three months: Casey plans for her life as a law student in Washington, D.C., anxious about the summer silent treatment from Cappie. Calvin and Rebecca are the presidents of their respective houses. Ashleigh is an intern in New York. Rusty and Dale enter their junior year.
The Good: The resolution of Cappie and Casey must be the central arc of this season. (Not really “will they/won’t they?” so much as “They will, but how and when?”) And it’s certainly a deep source of angst in the first two episodes. But Cappie/Casey is not at the forefront of every scene. In fact, their breakup motivates a streak of independence and maturation for each.
Grammer benefits the most. Casey’s state on the show has often been defined by whether she’s “single” or “girlfriend” — in addition to the vaguely more empowering “sorority sister.” At the start of season four, Casey is none of these, really. I mean, she’s single, but she’s not explicitly “single.” The character gets a couple moments in the premiere that solidify Casey as a sophisticated woman with a bright future in law.
Zachar competes with FNL’s Zach Guilford for “The Most Amiable Performance on Television,” and he’s as charming as ever though his final season arc hasn’t yet kicked in. Likewise, Foster somehow continues to convince me Cappie is as cool as his ABC Family-friendly reputation. With production wrapped, I hope we see the Greek alums pop up on the list of many a casting director this pilot season — I want more for them than The Craigslist Killer.
Oh, and I’m sure there’s some great Star Wars innuendo out in the world already. But that shared between Rusty and Dana in episode two is about the best I’ve ever heard.
(Note: I wrote this review when ABC Family had made the first two episodes available. They have since posted episode four, which is titled “All About Beav.” Oh my. I haven’t seen it yet, but I can promise you that if I had watched an episode that literally promised to be all about Beaver, this review would be 10-12% more positive.)
The Bad: As always, the storylines remain in the shadow of the silly. For instance, Rusty challenges the beloved super senior Cappie for the Kappa Tau presidency, and sways the hearts and minds of the KT with a simple campaign promise: “I will get you laid.” Whatever. It sets up a few nice moments of brotherhood between Rusty and Cappie.
The obstacles between Cappie and Casey are based in character, I suppose. But it does seem kind of artificial, required by the throughline of the season. Likewise, Greek must finally confront the problem that confronts all school-based programs: how do you keep graduating characters on the show without forcing it? Ashleigh’s transition is the least successful. Ashleigh has never been the most engaging character on the show. It does not help that she can only interact by phone, often joking about how New York-y New York is. (“Who the hell would build a building without an elevator?“)
But more importantly…
Closing Thoughts: Greek is still everything I enjoy about Greek. It’s a cool breeze of a show, but I’ve always felt the writers have a strong feel for the characters. There’s no sense of “last season” urgency (yet), but there is clear direction. I trust the payoffs will be worth my investment as season four unfolds.