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"and like that... *poof* ... it's gone..."

American High was one of the new wave of reality-based TV shows, more like the Real World than, say, Survivor, but with non-actors in real life situations. The situation in this case was a year of high school in America. They followed fourteen high school kids around for an entire school year, and then edited it into a television series. In a world of canned teen dramas like Dawson's Creek and Freaks And Geeks, TV critics and the few fans of the show felt it refreshing to see regular high school kids talking and acting like regular high school kids. The show aired twice on Fox, and now they've decided to cancel it, because the ratings suck.

This is patently foolish. The ratings suck because FOX put it up first against Survivor and then against Monday Night Raw. Oh yeah, and they failed to advertise it at all. I would really have no problem with the show's cancellation - I enjoyed the show, but didn't find it outstanding - if FOX had a better show for that slot. But the fact is...

FOX has nothing but crap to fill the slot with

Face it... other than The Simpsons, what on FOX is worth tuning into every week? Sure there are your King of the Hill fans, and your Malcolm In The Middle fans, and a lot of people will still watch The X-Files after David Duchovny leaves, but this is a network that doesn't even have a full night's worth of quality programming, let alone seven nights, and they're cancelling shows left and right. Strange Luck. Gone. Harsh Realm. Gone. Brimstone. Gone. Millenium. Gone. This is a network that nearly cancelled Party Of Five after the first season, and then relied on it to bring ratings in when every other show started to flail.

FOX continues to find ways to fumble and fuck up television - they cancel shows after two episodes, they broadcast cheap knockoffs of Regis Philbin game shows, and they marry two total strangers on live TV, only to find out that their prized so-called millionaire bachelor was anything but. And they don't just fuck up their own network. They bought UPN, which will effectively dissolve that television option (and probably before the Matrix-inspired "Freedom" will air).

Does FOX really think that back-to-back repeats of Futurama will do any better in that time slot? Or perhaps they'll have another exciting episode of "When Animals Attack Those Involved In The World's Scariest Police Chases". How long can they expect people to keep turning in to Cops? Does Rupert Murdoch have any knowledge of the colossal fuck-up in progress at his television network?

A new reality show by Fox that runs more like a documentary. 14 students at a high school near Chicago were given camcorders to make "video diaries" while two additional camera crews followed the students through their lives. All of this was voluntary, and the students were given pretty free rein. The show seems very well done and the students' diaries tend to be thoughtful and meaningful. Unfortunately the American public didn't buy this real "reality TV" and it has been a ratings failure. It was cancelled after only two episodes were aired.
I would also like to add that unlike "reality" shows like Survivor and Big Brother, American High had at least some air of respectability. It was in essence a long documentary, one that had the potential to teach as well as entertain. It seemed to me that the show could help parents of teenagers to understand some of what their kids were going through. This show was a chance to show people that Dawson's Creek and other such shows didn't even come close to what the inside of an American High school is actually like. Sure, some of these guys were acting for the cameras (Morgan), but most of them seem to use the show as an opportunity to let their feelings on teenage life to be heard, which is what the show's creators wanted.

I am greatly saddened by the absolute lack of faith that Fox put in this show, and that no attempt was made to move it ot a less competative time slot. It appears that Survivor has done more than prove that America is obsessed with the utterly pointless, it has also shown that these networks have truly given up on quality programming.
Now, back on public television for your viewing enjoyment. This is what Real World wanted to be and what documentaries are supposed to be about. It is not "real" because real people do not videotape their whole lives. But it is compelling because it is about teenage kids who are close~close~to normal. They are angry, impulsive, talented, scared, loud and inattentive. They are self involved, nervous and cocky. Frequently they come across as nice people, but often you are annoyed. It has several characters, including one problem child with ADD one unlikable gay student and one musically talented girl----sample lyrics:

"I only liked you 'cause you had a car." "girls with guitars-don't make rock stars"

There was a scene in the episode shown on this date where the kid with ADD volunteers to work with disabled adults at a gymnastics club. Watch an unsympathetic kid become patient with people who needs patience more than he does. It's not that dramatic and nobody thinks he is now "changed forever" -it just is . It's plenty.

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