‘Undergrads’ stirs up controversy

Megan Houchin and Megan Houchin

James Franco’s Web series gets under USC’s skin

“I can’t believe they showed us drinking! Nobody drinks in college!” yelled James Franco at the closing of the first episode of his new Web series, “Undergrads.” With heavy use of sarcasm, Franco retaliated to the complaints from students and staff of the University of Southern California that followed the release of the trailer for the series on Jan. 24, 2012.

Franco is an actor, a performance artist, a comedian, a model, and now he’s the writer and producer of his latest project “Undergrads.” Franco and co-writer/producer Vince Jolivette created the recently debuted Web series to document the college experience through the lives of four students.

The trailer for the show included footage of students drinking, partying, and having sex. After watching the trailer, USC students and faculty alike began to react. The most persistent reactions were negative, claiming that the series wasn’t an accurate depiction of the school. Meanwhile, there were some students who found it hilarious, if not hilariously accurate.

Franco and Jolivette defended the series, arguing that the show was meant to be an accurate representation of college life, and in the process they collected plenty of footage of studying. And yet, the trailer exhibited a severe lack of any studying, probably due to the well-known fact that it’s a hundred times more fun to watch a party than it is to watch a study session.

In addition, despite the implications that the series is about USC students, Jolivette reminds viewers that they “never mention the name of the college” because, ironically, “we didn’t want a backlash,” according to NBC Los Angeles. However the bad reactions to the trailer resulted in Franco removing it from his Website.

But the show must go on; the first episode of “Undergrads” premiered Feb. 2. While many were expecting the explicit content promised by the trailer, instead they received a short video that didn’t exactly meet expectations. The entire episode consisted of an introductory montage of underwear-clad students running around at night, followed by two minutes of a girl studying to metal music, and then wrapping it up with 40 seconds of Franco himself mocking those who were upset about the trailer.

As promised in the end credits of episode one, the next Thursday another installment was released. This time, however, the show was a little closer to meeting expectations. As we are introduced to the stars of the series, there was alcohol, studying, and the crystal-clear assertion that the college featured is not USC.
New episodes are posted on Thursdays on Franco’s Website, www.jamesfrancotv.com.


[email protected]