Tonight rings the bell on the era of innovation and risk at ABC Family as the slight but witty Greek ends its four-year run. There was a time, not so long ago, when the cable netlet didn’t know what it wanted to be. Before it had settled on a schedule rich in teen angst, teen intrigue, teen melodrama, and the regurgitated moralizing of Brenda Hampton, ABC Family threw seeds every which way looking for an identity.
One of those seeds blossomed into the brilliant and criminally under-appreciated Middleman. Another produced the short-lived Huge. And then there was Greek.
I don’t want to write a paean to the show; I did mention it was slight, right?
However, as slight as it may have been it was consistently funny and charming and witty and clever. Creator Patrick Sean Smith and his writing team never aspired to greatness, but they took no shortcuts either. They wrote interesting and believable college kids in a setting many of us can recognize, though for some of us it’s a bit further in the rear-view mirror. The show was peppered with pop culture references ranging from Jaws to the films of John Hughes but never felt weighed down by them. Mostly, the show was about its cast of well-drawn characters, with dual focuses drawn on popular, pretty Casey Cartwright (Spencer Grammar) and her younger, geeky brother Rusty (Jacob Zachar).
As an indication of the care the creators took with the show, Casey’s four-year love triangle with slacker-king Cappie (Scott Michael Foster) and Evan Chambers (Jake McDorman – my choice for this generation’s Billy Zabka, and that’s a compliment of the highest order from me) never felt like a crutch or a worn out storyline. The shifting love and enmity between these three was believable and never wearying, although Casey herself could occasionally be trying.
Did I mention this show is *funny*? That Aaron Hill’s Beaver is a lovable manchild? That Geoffrey Arend guested as alumni burnout Egyptian Joe and temporarily lived inside a giant model volcano in the basement of Kappa Tau? That Rusty turned that same volcano into a beer-spewing monster by stealing a weather machine? That the inimitable Clark Duke ((Seriously. He can do no wrong.)) is a regular? This show is funny.
But on a netlet that’s settling for melodrama and teen soaps, there’s little space left for unassuming funny.
Greek has no murders, no Molly ((Ringwald, suffering for some past wrong by reading Brenda Hampton’s pablum.)), but plenty of moxie. Catch it on DVD or streaming and see if you don’t agree. Me, I’ll be watching the series finale tonight and laughing at the hijinks that ensue.