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James Franco’s “Undergrads” Has Students Divided

Sammi Wong |
February 1, 2012 | 1:17 p.m. PST

Staff Contributor

A scene in the "Undergrads" trailer that has now been removed (jamesfrancotv.com)
A scene in the "Undergrads" trailer that has now been removed (jamesfrancotv.com)
James Franco’s new web series, “Undergrads,” has caused a significant amount of backlash from the University of Southern California undergraduate community. The series, which centers on the lives of four undergraduate students, has been the center of controversy since a teaser of the series was first released on Jan. 24.

The trailer was a compilation of various party scenes and alcohol-related clips that demonstrated the worst of the Greek community and student body.

Offensive remarks about girls being fat or guys chasing down shots with high fives were featured as highlights in the trailer.

The series, which was set to premiere on Thursday, Feb. 2, has now been postponed indeterminably because of all the negative attention that it has generated. The trailer of the web series has also been removed from Franco’s website.

Many students at USC are angry that the series only illustrates a one-dimensional facet of college life. Others are frustrated about the lack of diversity within the main characters of the series: all of who seemed to be Caucasian, in the Greek system, and party-crazed. Among other remarks that USC students made, the fact that James Franco attended rival university UCLA, which could be why USC was targeted for such negative attention.

That is not to say, however, that the series has only received negative opinions. There are many students at USC who are honored and proud of this series. A “Daily Trojan” article, written by Sheridan Watson commented that the show isn’t so bad because there is no harm in admitting that USC is a school that loves to party.

“I find the show quite hilarious-looking. I mean, if you can’t laugh at yourself then you can’t laugh at anything. And if anyone tries to say that what the producers portray in the show is the antithesis of SC life, then they’re in fierce denial,” Watson wrote.

Watson has a point. USC is a school with a firm reputation of having a crazy and active social life. It is a university where approximately 25 percent of the student population is in the Greek community, infamously known for activities like sex on a roof or sexist emails.

The reason why this show is going to be incredibly negative on the school’s reputation is not because it demonstrates a social scene, but because viewers are unable to realize one thing: that this series represents a small fraction of the student community.

Reality TV shows like “Jersey Shore” have turned an entire region in the U.S into a joke. People associate the “Jersey Shore” with Guidos and tanning-obsessed girls even though that represents only a small fraction of the population of people who live there.

Once this show airs, people will undoubtedly make generalizations and assumptions about this entire school of over 17,000 undergraduate students based on the action of a few hundred that they see.

While the actions of those few hundred might be hilarious to watch, it is certainly not fair for them to turn the university into a joke.

Reach writer Sammi Wong here



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