08 June 2014

Season Set Review: "Unfabulous": Season One

Rated: TV-Y7
Starring: Emma Roberts, Malese Jow, Jordan Calloway, Molly Hagan, Markus Flanagan, and Tadhg Kelly
Released: 2004 - 2005 (Nickelodeon premieres)
Addie Singer (Emma Roberts) is just that: a singer.  She and her two best friends Geena (Malese Jow) and Zach (Jordan Calloway) are just starting junior high school, which leads them into one predicament after another.  From hosting her first boy-girl party, to trying to step out of the shadow of her older brother (Tadhg Kelly), to trying to find a misplaced CD of songs about her crush, Addie just has one mishap after another.  With her parents (Molly Hagan and Markus Flanagan) standing by her, though, she can remain strong...can't she?
As seen on Nickelodeon.

Production Values

Plots: 3.5/5
Most of these episodes were at least fairly fun and entertaining, but at least two were pathetic, and not even very comical.  The whole "teen sitcom" thing has been around for ages, so, you can't expect it to really break much new ground, but the plots could have been better.

Production Values: 2.5/5
This series is stylistically reminiscent of Lizzie McGuire.  That may sound like a good thing, but, it's actually a problem; it copies elements of the ever-popular Disney show without the fun.  The soundtrack is good, especially Addie's songs; the acting is well-done, too.  However, the filming style makes it a bit hard to notice.

Content Concerns

Sex: 3.5/5
A health class is said to be about "sex ed," but it really isn't.  "Seven Minutes in Heaven" is referenced, but not seen.  Comments are made about Geena's wardrobe.  Other than that, as bad as it gets is kissing.

Nudity: 4/5
Geena often wears off-the-shoulder tops, as well as short shorts at times.  The opening sequence, which is done in a zany collage style, shows a little of Geena and Addie's midriffs.

Language: 4.5/5
Nothing worse than mild name-calling and usage of words such as "heck".

Violence: 4/5
This is a sitcom, so, of course, comedic pratfalls would be the rule.  Various characters get into accidents, but it's all played for laughs, and there is no blood or gore to be seen.

Drugs: 5/5

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 4/5
A character has an emotional response to a break-up.

Other: 3/5
Getting discipline referral slips and being stuck in detention is shown to be funny.  Geena violates school rules--that is, the dress code--again and again without serious consequences.  Girls from a Catholic school are made fun of for always winning the science fair because "God is with them".

When I was in middle school, I was a big fan of the short-lived game show Weakest Link.  Though I did have some friends who also liked it, most people I knew--of all ages--didn't care for it, saying they were "disappointed" in host Anne Robinson, because she wasn't as mean as they made her out to be.  One guy even said of that show, "That's nothin' but a bootleg Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?." I mention that because his feelings on my former favorite game show are mine after finishing the first season of Unfabulous: it's pretty much a poor man's Lizzie McGuire.  Main character Addie has two best friends--a girl and a guy--and a brother she just can't get along with...just like Lizzie.  Addie is also a singer...just like Hilary Duff ended up becoming.  Granted, there are some different elements--for example, Addie has a dog, whereas Lizzie never had any pets--but it never steps out of the shadow of the show that apparently inspired it.  It may have made Emma Roberts a star, but, unless you're a die-hard fan of hers, I can't recommend this series; go check out one of Dan Schneider's series, such as All That or Drake & Josh, if you're looking for great entertainment from the slime channel.

Score: 2.5/5

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