Sometimes when I watch a scripted web vid, I wonder about its target audience. With Dorm Life, I’m still trying to figure it out, but I think I have an idea.
When I was a kid, I loved Saved by the Bell (I actually don’t know that I loved it, but when you’re a kid and it’s Saturday morning, you’ll pretty much watch whateve’s on and think it’s good). And, like most kids, I found something about the ensemble that made sense. The characters weren’t real people, but amalgams of types of people. And they were easily identifiable – the nerd, the overachiever, the stud, the goody-two-shoes, the wise guy. You knew who they were and what they would do in any given situation – the major curve ball, of course, being when Jessie Spano got hooked on speed.
That situation comedies rely heavily on characterization to drive plots is not a new concept, nor is it relegated to kids shows, though kids shows tend to have the most simplistic characters. If you describe Friends to a newbie, you’d probably start with, “There’s this spacey chick, Phoebe, and this whiney guy, Ross…”
Dorm Life, too, is an assortment of archetypes. Produced by Attention Span Media – a group of current students and recently grads from UCLA – and sponsored by Campus Foods, the scripted series is meant to look like a reality show shot by handheld and web cams, giving an intimate look into a college dorm, depicting a group of students living on the floor.
And guess what? They are nothing like real people. But that doesn’t mean the show’s bad. Dorm Life is a fun little series about one of the biggest challenges of living in a college dormitory – trying to create your own unique experience, no matter how idiotic.
###Surprisingly, I have a vidid memory of my college dorm. And, just like denizens of 5 South, I seem to recall that we too had a dorky, overzealous sophomore who preyed on unassuming first-year residents to join a lame game night, and a mousey freshman who still looked like she was dressed by her mom. Dorm Life’s characters are not particularly original, nor are they very realistic, but they are easily identified stereotypes that people will like.
From the weird, arty guy to the super-hot sorority rush, the kids in Dorm Life will attract young viewers who can relate to playing ‘I Never’ (called ‘Ten Fingers’ in this incarnation) and pulling stupid pranks on each other. Perhaps more accurately, it will speak to young viewers who hope to someday relate to the shenanigans in Dorm Life.
Not nearly as benign as Saved by the Bell, but not quite as engaging as the ensemble in Dazed and Confused (which I would consider to be one of the better-scripted teenage romps), Dorm Life, with its cute storylines and cuter actors, is just edgy enough and plenty familiar enough to create some kind of following. And I’m pretty sure that following isn’t comprised of campus coeds, but the day-dreaming kids in the high school computer lab.