Greek 3Greek: Chapter 3 (2009, Buena Vista)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

Greek, ABC Family’s college based dramedy, continues to be a delight. For those of you who think it’s just another fluff series from the network that brings you the dreadful The Secret Life of the American Teenager, think again. Greek is thoughtful, witty, and one of the most enjoyable shows on television. The actors have really grown into their roles, bringing depth to their parts. The well written characters are at times smart, mean, loving, stupid and inspiring — just like all of the college students I knew back in the day. After being introduced to Greek last winter when I reviewed Chapter 2 (the latter half of the first season), I am now so in love with the show that I’ve added it to our DVR list. Greek Chapter 3, the first half of season 2, has just been released on DVD.

Created by writer/producer Patrick Sean Smith, Greek takes place on the campus of Cyprus-Rhodes University, a fictional mid sized Ohio college (think Miami of Ohio or Bowling Green). The two main characters are Casey and Rusty Cartwright, siblings with completely different backgrounds and social status. The junior Casey (the charming Spencer Grammer) is the interim president of her sorority, Zeta Beta Zeta and an astute politician. She spends the majority of this new chapter campaigning to get reelected as sorority president. Throughout the 10 episodes in this collection long episodes Casey learns more about herself than she wants to know, good and bad. Rusty (Jacob Zachar) is a freshman pledge to the party fraternity, Kappa Tau Gamma. An engineering student, Rusty (aka “Spitter”), has never had a social life, so being accepted by Kappa Tau Gamma means more to him at this juncture in his life than getting passing grades (which he does with ease). Although Casey would die to be seen in public with her geeky brother, she does watch out for him.

Through Casey and Rusty that we come to know the rest of the cast: Ashleigh (Amber Stevens) is Casey’s sorority sister and best friend. Rebecca (Dilshad Vadsaria) is a ZBZ pledge and the daughter of a disgraced politician and Frannie (Tiffany Dupont) is the former president of ZBZ, Casey’s big sis, and bitter rival.  Rusty’s pledge trainer and big brother in KTG is Cappie (an irresistible Scott Michael Foster). Cappie is dating Rebecca but pines for Casey. The two of them have a past that won’t seem to go away. Rusty is friends with Calvin (Paul James), a pledge at the KTG rival frat, Omega Chi Delta. The president at OCD is Evan (Jake McDorman). Evan and Cappie used to be good friends. In addition, Evan and Casey once dated and he harbors unresolved feelings for her. Evan goes through a moral dilemma as to whether he should accept a million dollar trust fund and be indebted to his parents for life, or to turn it down and be his own man.

The intertwined storylines of Greek can get complicated to follow when you’re trying to read them in a review. But once you’re in this world, everything makes perfect sense. While Greek could easily fall into the quagmire of so many teenage soaps, it manages to stay real by making the characters a complicated mix of true emotions. At any given time the people you’re supposed to be cheering for can be complete asses, and the ones we’re supposed to hate exhibit soulfulness that makes it hard not to root for them. Evan, for example, is a real prick, but you can tell that he wants to be a good person. He just doesn’t know how to do that. The one person who was his light, Casey, walked away from him.

One of my favorite characters is still Dale, Rusty’s roommate. This conservative Christian is played with great heart and humor by Clark Duke (he of Internet fame for starring in Clark & Michael with Michael Cera). Throughout this third chapter, we watch him hopelessly pine for Casey, grow jealous of her new beau and surprisingly bond with Cappie, his complete opposite. Added to the mix of characters this time around is Max (Michael Rady), Rusty’s resident advisor and a certified rocket scientist. Max and Casey find themselves falling in love and this leads to some awkward moments and hard decisions by the end of the season. In addition to the great cast, there is a wonderful ensemble of reoccurring characters that appear in the fraternity and sorority houses constantly on hand for comic relief.

Considering that this is an ABC Family production, it amazes me what the writers choose to address each week. From binge drinking to homosexual sleepovers to plenty of dope jokes, Greek really attempts to portray the college experience as close as possible, sans the porn and swear words. I’m also impressed with the way they work around the network’s standards department with their array of double entendres. By far the best episode of this collection is “Let’s Make a Deal,” which includes fun references to The Sting¸21 and Casino. Seeing Grammer dressed up like Sharon Stone from the latter film, and trying to catch all of the film references, both in the writing and the way the episode was shot, makes it a jackpot winner. While Greek is no Animal House or even Revenge of the Nerds, it’s still a fun, consistent portrayal of college life that will entertain you whether you’re just entering your freshman year or, ahem, you did so two decades ago.

The DVD bonus features are rather light, with bloopers, a feature called “20 Questions with the Cast of Greek,” and audio commentaries.

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About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Malchus@popdose.com. Follow him @MrMalchus

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