Retrospective - The Paper
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Glamour took a short sabbatical from MTV’s Monday night 10pm prime slot for the past few months.
Instead of Lauren Conrad and her fabulous life we were taken behind the scenes of Cypress Bay high school’s award winning paper, The Circuit.
Rather than dancing at Area or slipping into Hyde, these kids hold “ice cream socials” at their houses, where the most potent item on the menu is the blueberries offered up as one of an array of toppings.
I suppose it was naive of me to think the paper itself would be instrumental rather than incidental to the stories on this show. Not when there’s a power struggle, bitching, bullying and nastiness aplenty to be shown. Instead of attacking your clothing choices, these teens are far more likely to wax lyrical about how your all round total weirdness makes your application unlikely to catch the eye of the admissions department of your College of choice. But those pants do make you look fat too, btw.
The season began with the major power-players staking their case for the position of Editor-in-chief in essay form, submitted to Ms Weiss.
I’d like to say Ms Weiss is in charge, but having seen her attempt to chorale the students and command the room, that’s a generous assessment.
Let’s just say Ms Weiss makes the staffing decisions, a responsibility I do not envy.
Most often seen with an exasperated look on her face, Ms Weiss has her work cut out for her with this current crop of aspiring journos.
They’ll do her bidding eventually, but they’ll let her know if they aren’t happy about it and then not before loudly declaring her ideas and schemes “stupid” and calling for those around them to join in a boycott of her latest attempt to restore order.
Her team building exercise was universally panned, but those who did attend learned a new understanding of the importance of working as a unit and a new appreciation for many of their colleagues.
Ms Weiss strikes this pose a lot.
Of course she chose to promote the almost universally disliked Amanda to the coverted position of Editor-in-chief.
Were it not for the fact I’m utterly convinced she wrote the best essay, I’d consider this a move to manufacture drama on the part of MTV.
Had the job gone to anyone else, the entire premise upon which the series rested would have been lost. What would the central clique have to talk about if the dual major topics of conversation, “How bad Amanda is at this job...” and “How much better X would have been...”, had been eliminated? They probably wouldn’t even have had reason to mention that Amanda’s rhinoplasty left them unable to see the difference in the before and after. (I do have to agree with them on this. Let’s call the difference ‘subtle’.)
Come on, this would annoy you too.
I cannot deny Amanda is a strange individual. She appears to live her life to a backdrop of self-penned show tunes which she busts out regularly, much to the annoyance of her colleagues. Multi-coloured post-it notes remind her to “Think Positive” and she has a sage saying for almost every occasion. That has to get slightly annoying for those around her. I’m not sure what she’s done to warrant the venom directed towards her however.
In my day if you wanted to say something bad about someone you did it behind their back. Nice and neat, no one has to get hurt.
This is the “if you’ve got something to say, say it to my face” generation though and they’ll bitch you out behind your back and to your face for good measure.
The assistant editors spend a large portion of their on-screen time tearing her down for everything from her looks and behaviour to her ability to effectively run the paper.
“It’ll be a shambles”, declares, Adam, the most vocal, or at least the loudest of the dissenters.
His cronies seem to agree and pledge not to take orders from her. Even though she is in charge, if she thinks she’s in charge the seniors at The Paper most definitely have news for her.
She isn’t blameless in all of this though. She’s able to throw barbs with the best (that should probably read worst) of them.
Her greatest attribute seems to be her ability to let the sarcasm, verbal swipes and general threats of rebellion wash over her in her pursuit of journalistic excellence. While Adam is vocal, Giana prefers to use a combination of snide comments and withering looks in her attempt to bring down her opponent. Emboldened by the presence of her boyfriend Trevor, Giana pours scorn at every turn, making her my least favourite participant.
The only applicant who comes anywhere close to making a mockery of Ms Weiss decision to give Amanda the Editor-in-chief position is Alex, the Managing Editor. A one-time friend of Amanda he soon joins in the chorus of disapproval, slamming her at every turn. By the end of the season their bonding at Hebrew school and his 9th grade crush on her are things of the past as she decides any further relationship should be purely professional.
Giana, the face of evil.
These are not the cool kids. They are the future though. The ones that grow up to become the bosses of the cool kids.
Adam did manage to buck the apparent trend of beefiest jock becoming prom king, so for that alone he and the people who voted for him probably deserve some credit.
"I'm like totally the prom king."
His almost constant bitching, rudeness, attention-seeking and generally over-dramatic behaviour soon erased that credit and put him back in the red.
Unfortunately the paper itself took a back seat to the drama of everyday life. Why show the staff chasing a story when you could instead show them verbally assassinating a colleague over pizza and nachos?
We did get to see Alex and staff writer Dan spend a day in the shoes of the school football team and Adam lead his band of underlings to a record-breaking push for advertising dollars from local businesses. Both made for interesting pieces and left me wanting to see more of the workings and less of the staff interaction.
In the final episode we are witness to an “Amanda saves the day” moment as she manages to rescue their front page story from the chop.
Even with the threat of extra work to make up for the four pages the pulled story would have impacted averted, it’s too late for Amanda to win favour from certain quarters, not that she courts it.
We’re left staring at what is surely an acceptance letter from NYU in Amanda’s letter box.
So, where does that leave next season? Away from Cypress Bay High, the most populated and surely one of the cleanest, best equipped schools in the US.
MTV is currently scoping out new schools for the follow-up season.
In which I hope, but doubt, the emphasis will be firmly focussed on the paper and not the pettiness.