- Buy the DVD
All photos © ABC
Reviewed by Will Harris
elcome back to Cyprus-Rhodes University for the second semester of “Greek,” the television series that comes as close to reproducing the actual college experience as the standards of the ABC Family Channel will allow. That’s not a knock on the network; it’s just a statement of fact. When the word “family” is actually in the name of the channel, then you can imagine that it’s not going to be a completely accurate representation of college. But you have to give the producers of “Greek” credit for their continued attempts to smirk at the limitations of their location – like, say, offering up an episode where Rusty (Jacob Zachar) thinks he’s courting a young lass but quickly discovers that what he’s actually found is a “fun buddy.”
“Fun buddy.” Awesome.
So what’s going on in the hallowed halls of Cyprus-Rhodes this time around? Well, Rusty’s still nursing the wounds left by the dissolution of his relationship with Jen K. (though based on that comment a moment ago, he’s clearly doing pretty well with the recovery process), and his sister, Casey (Spencer Grammer), is still adrift in a post-Evan world while adjusting to her new position as president of Zeta Beta Zeta. Unfortunately, the sorority is stuck with having Lizzie (Senta Moses), ZBZ’s painfully chipper national representative, living in their house and offering up countless platitudes about the wonders of sisterhood. Over on the fraternity side of things, Evan isn’t entirely sure that he’s done the right thing by kicking Casey to the curb, but Cappy (Scott Foster) is still dating Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria) and doing quite well despite their cultural differences. Calvin (Paul James) is surviving as a member of Omega Chi despite having come out of the closet to his fraternity brothers, Rusty’s suffering through life as a Kappa Tau pledge, and Dale (Clark Duke)? He’s still very much Dale.
It’s impressive the way the characters in “Greek” do things that feel real rather than sensational. We’ve watched the character of Calvin deal with being a gay man in the midst of a fraternity, but over the course of Season Two, he grows comfortable enough to finally begin to date; it’s tough for him to reconcile his own lifestyle with the macho stylings of his fraternity brothers, but in the end, he ends up kissing his new beau, Michael, in the midst of an Omega Chi mixer. In another show, it might’ve seemed like an intentionally sensational moment, but here the character development was sufficiently gradual that you just accept that, yes, it was time. Poor Rusty enjoyed his relationship with Jen K. so much that he’s now on the lookout for a second chance at love, but the way he totally overdoes it in an attempt to impress a new girl is both sweet and painful – just like real life. (Accordingly, the girl freaks out and, even after he apologizes, she still tells him she doesn’t want to see him again.)
Most shows have a romantic triangle, but “Greek” offers an intricate romantic pentagon: Casey, Evan, Cappy, Rebecca, and Frannie (Tiffany Dupont), who returns to the ZBZ fold after Lizzie tells Casey it’s the only way she’ll leave the house to its own devices. Casey wants to be friends with Evan, who tells her that he wants the same thing until he realizes that means he’ll have to put up with her dating other guys. Cappy’s happy with Rebecca, but he also still finds himself sharing moments with Casey whenever he’s around her; as a result, Rebecca remains constantly jealous of Casey. And when Frannie returns, she soon decides that she wants to pursue Evan, since, after all, it’s not like he’s dating Casey anymore. The constant romantic tension around all of these individuals makes the show a wonder to watch, since you really never know for sure if someone might break up and start going out with someone else.
Hey, it is college, after all. Hook-ups are de rigueur, you know.
Arguably the best episode of the season is “Freshman Daze,” where we jump back in time to see what things were like on campus during the freshman year of the elder members of the cast. It really fleshes out the back story of Evan and Cappy as we learn how close they used to be, but it also serves to explain why Casey left Cappy for Evan and proves that Frannie actually did support her little sister once upon a time. There’s not a weak episode in the season, however, with other highlights including “47 Hours & 11 Minutes” (AKA the length of Parents Weekend), “No Campus for Old Rules” (where Alan Ruck returns as Dean Bowman and uses the occasion to make more “Ferris Bueller” references by driving a red sports car and referring to his wife, Sloan), and the season finale, “Spring Broke,” where the gang heads to Florida, with some returning earlier than others.
The second half of “Greek”’s first season easily lives up to the success of the first half. Come on, folks: if you’re gonna be releasing these by the half-season, then hurry up and get us Chapter 3, too!
Special Features: The audio commentaries by the cast and crew are as entertaining as any you’ll find on a current TV series. It’s clear just how much everyone enjoys working on the show, and if they occasionally drift into watching the proceedings, they make up for it with their enthusiasm within a few moments. Also included are bloopers, a making-of featurette about the work involved to bring the flashback episode to life, and the video for the Plain White T’s “Natural Disaster.”