The WB’s made-for-web series The Lake primarily evokes one question: Do you like your teen dramas spoon fed? Following in the long tradition of prime time teen soaps, from Beverly Hills 90210 to The OC, The Lake wraps up its character introductions and defines the good guy, bad girl, smart kid roles (giving us a very srong indication of future plot lines) by the end of the first 11-minute 25-second episode. So much for delayed suspense.
But with its presumed target demographic of pubescents with blemishes (Johnson & Johnson Clean & Clear is the web series’ lead sponsor), who am I, a man just a few years outside the age range and teen-acne-free, to judge?
I watched the first two episodes with my 16-year-old cousin to hear the critical review from the kids these days. She said it was “all right,” probably refraining from greater praise due to the skeptical tone in my question.
In any case, what you have in The Lake are the classic teen show ingredients: continuing romance, new romance and conflicting romance amongst an intimate group of high schoolers on summer break. There’s also ample titillation: pretty, skinny young ladies and cute boys with studly, but not too studly, bodies with completely clear skin.
The scene is the fictional Lake Eleanor in Wisconsin, where the kids are set free for the “best summer ever,” with a couple of caveats of course.
Olivia (Heather Ann Davis) is the shy new girl on the block, staying with her aunt while her parents are otherwise preoccupied. Ryan (Drew Van Acker) is the Aryan local lifeguard who comes to welcome her, while Alexis (Samantha Cope) is his alpha-female blond girlfriend. While Ryan remains in the casting-glances phase with Olivia, there’s Drew (Devin Crittenden), he of the up-turned polo collars and perpetually innocent mopey expression, to step up and romance her.
Madison (Erica Dasher) is both Alexis’ step-sister and foil, “the cool one” she notes when introducing herself to Olivia. And finally there’s Luke (Nick Thurston), who starts off as Madison’s courtier, and along with Ryan, plays the role of co-alpha male.
To be fair, there are a few subtle nods to issues of class, and not every family portrayed is perfect. Still, as holds with the tradition, this is a plot driven series analogous to romance novels and the least complex versions of Young Adult lit.
The first four episodes, (after the premiere’s 11 minutes) are nine minutes each, and another four are to be delivered each Monday. But at this point, how important is it, really, that we discuss what exactly happens next? We can quite reliably count on romance and competition and jealousy and cheating and betrayal and loss of virginity and so on.
The Lake is executive produced by ex-WB and current Generate CEO Jordan Levin and directed by 90210 alum Jason Priestly, who is likely attempting to reinvigorate his career outside the halls of West Beverly. Considering the actor’s fantastic recent cameo in the underground Lonely Corn Muffin, and that Love and Death on Long Island was a pretty decent film (though twelve years old now…oops), the series is a minor disappointment.
Priestly appears to have done his job by taking the scripts and turning them into the same type of teen-eye-candy-romantic-shuffle which catapulted him into stardom and plastered his visage inside high school lockers and Trapper Keepers throughout the country. The show’s as easy to digest as spray-on butter, but just as caloric. Better guilty pleasures abound elsewhere, they just require a little more legwork.
Watch The Lake on TheWB.com.