varsity_inc.jpg
ESPN 2
Thursday nights @ 11pm ET

http://espnvarsityinc.com/

This six-episode series follows a team of high school students in Louisiana at West Monroe High School. It is one of those southern towns where American football rules and is revered above all else. This docu-series goes into the homes, the cars, the classrooms of these young boys as they move along in their make-it-or-break-it season of the game. With a dramatic score underneath and some great beauty shots, this is a reality show that is clearly trying to emulate the fictional world of NBC’s ‘Friday Night Lights,’ which has found a very loyal audience base. Now, FNL is a TV show that came about because of a film that came about because of a book. It is grounded in reality, but the dramatic license that was developed for TV has brought out characters that are at once small-town-America and larger-than-life. Moments of ‘Varsity Inc.’’s pilot attempt cinema verité as well, but without accounting for the learning curve. Every new reality show needs a little time to find its legs. When you throw cameras in front of American families who are not used to being kept up with like a Kardashian, there’s bound to be some unspoken resiliency. Perhaps we can scrape away the abrasive Old Spice ad campaign to see what’s really going on with these kids and come to empathize with them over the remaining five episodes. As of now, it’s a Canal Street knock-off of the real thing. Maybe they should hire W.G. Snuffy Walden to do the music. That would be a start.