Once upon a time, there was a mystical studio at the WB, a place where 13-year-olds were worshipped for their unfettered spending power. One night, a quite magical thing happened.
A J. Crew catalog came to life.
The beautiful, unblemished, willowy, nameless, whiter-than-white boys and girls in the catalog became real, and acted out a passion play about class. Some were rich, and some poor, but since they looked interchangeable and were wearing the same clothes, the only way to tell was by what they announced they were. And whether they were rich or poor is all they ever talked about.
The passion play took place at an exclusive prep school in New England called Rawley Academy. Every boy in the land wanted to attend this prestigious school, because rowing and elitism are coveted by all in a place where there are only two kinds of people: wealthy and privileged, and poor white trash. So, students lied and cheated to get in and be around the affluent, because for them, as one of the poor characters said, "Anything is possible." This poor student cheated on the admissions test to attend, so he could get away from his abusive father. Another student was a girl passing as a boy, which no one seemed to notice except the viewers, for whom it is obvious, especially when she kissed a guy in the first episode and lounged around in her bra afterwards.
But don't worry, no one ever got thrown out of this heaven on well-tilled earth that we all wish we could have attended, where a hazing panty raid brought the underwear-clad girls from the nearby girl's school to the ivy-covered buildings to run through the halls and be leered at playfully.
No, the poor cheating boy got to prove his worth to the teacher who discovered his fraud by writing a 300-word essay about how he wanted the chance to start his life. The teacher decided he could stay, and of course, that he was a very talented writer.
Because everything in this passion play was about class, a rich male student named Scout fell for the local townie who pumped gas, though she had nary a blackened fingernail or smudge on her alabaster skin or tiny tank top. Though they almost consummated the relationship, alas, it was not meant to be, for the girl's dad, who looked about 20 himself, revealed that rich boy and poor girl are actually half-brother and -sister, from their father's night of slumming with her mother, a local. They decided to just be friends, and capped off the day with a fun-filled round of cow-tipping.
Because the trials and tribulations of the square-jawed white male spawn of the superwealthy and the envious poor trash that longs to eat in cafeterias next to them is something everyone in the country can understand, the passion play is entitled Young Americans, and will air on the WB starting July 12th.
You may never order from J. Crew again.
Karen Lurie writes for TV Hole.
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…