There’s no doubt that Josh Schwartz is the king of guilty pleasure television. The man behind Gossip Girl, Chuck, and The O.C. took on the internet world this year with Rockville, CA. The first season of the Warner Bros. drama just came to an end, and in a guilty-pleasure marathon I caught up on the entire season.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Schwartz’s genre of delicious teen sudsy drama. And I won’t be afraid to admit I’ve seen close to every episode of the The O.C., some episodes more than once, but Schwartz, I have to say, your foray into web television isn’t what it could have been. Maybe I set the bar high for you, Mr. Schwartz, as well I should. I’d venture to say you’re the best teen drama writer since one Mr. Aaron Spelling, but for me, much of Rockville felt safe, and reliable and slow, really slow. There is really one thing, and one thing only that pulled me through–I’ll get to that adorable thing in a moment.
If you hadn’t heard about Rockville until now, the premise of the show is simple–what happens when a group of attractive fan kids hang out in a rock club called Rockville (set at the real-life Echoplex in Echo Park). The show attracted a massive group of eclectic, hot bands to play during each episode, including The Kooks, Phantom Planet, Earlimart, Lykki Li, White Lies and many more.
This is one of the areas where the show missed for me. All these great bands played, but in the actual show episode they feel like background music as opposed to the amazing headliners they really are. Schwartz and his longtime music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas, did devote a ton of time to covering the bands more fully in extra footage outside the episodes, but you’ve got to take the time to watch it. $5 Cover did a better job portraying many unknowns as amazing crowd pleasers every episode while packing a quick, dramatic cliffhanger of a punch almost every episode.
On the flip side, Rockville is not only slow, but also predictable (our two romantic leads barely acknowledge each other in a romantic sense until Episode 7). Nonetheless, I was blissfully carried through by none other than the new Seth Cohen. I’m a Seth Cohen girl, and Josh Schwartz has one darn amazing knack for creating adorable, nerdy, snarky, smart, sarcastic Seth Cohen characters who suck a girl like me right in. And after spending a long night with the twenty Rockville, CA episodes I can officially say, Seth Cohen move over, because Hunter just stole my heart.
At first, I was suspicious of Hunter. I thought Hunter might be a Seth Cohen in sheep’s clothing. But then, I started to watch Hunter awkwardly ask out women, and spout off about the demerits of brunch, and nerdily talk about the more obscure editions of the Rolling Stones catalogue, and I was won over.
Hunter, is played impressively by Andrew J. West (Greek, Privileged) and he is living proof delivering pop-culture laden Schwartz-scribed mouthfuls is no easy task. His romantic foil, Deb, Alexandra Chando (As the World Turns), definitely had a challenge as she was forced to spout out the word “major” as the new “like” in describing everything from music, to bands, to life. Her character feels, at times, out of place, like an 80s throw-back sent into the future without a comb or a contemporary vocabulary. Bottom line, she would’ve been “majorly” more effective if the word “major” had never existed.
Nonetheless, I found myself yelling at Hunter to get with the program and ask out major Deb. The two were clearly majorly made for each other from the moment the bouncer lets Deb through the door, and leaves Hunter standing. At the conclusion of the series Hunter becomes Deb’s plus one and they finally kiss, leaving not much to be resolved in a season two. And even though the journey to the kiss was a long one, I found myself sad at the prospect of a life with out Hunter, cuurious who in the world could do a better job filling Seth Cohen’s shoes.