State of Georgia
After watching a couple episodes of the new ABC Family comedy State of Georgia, it becomes clear that it is exactly what a sitcom should not be. Take any great sitcom in recent memory: Friends, Seinfeld, That ‘70s Show, and The Big Bang Theory, just to name a few. Each of these enormously popular shows has likable – if not relatable – characters and situations, sharp and quotable dialogue, and a feeling of camaraderie among the actors in the lead roles.
State of Georgia, which is being marketed as former child star Raven-Symoné’s big comeback, features the complete opposites of the elements listed above. The characters are irritating, the dialogue is painfully unfunny, and the actors don’t seem to be enjoying themselves in the slightest. There’s no doubt about it – State of Georgia is just plain bad.
The plot is something we’ve all seen before: Georgia Chamberlain (Raven-Symoné) has just moved from the South to New York City to make a name for herself as a Broadway actress. She just thinks she’s the greatest actress and singer there ever was, and is crushed when a big-name casting director rejects her for being too hefty for a role. Like any classy young woman, in an effort to secure a callback, Georgia later tries to seduce the casting director…with fried chicken and biscuits (don’t worry, we were confused, too).
At least Georgia has her socially awkward, science-obsessed best friend, Jo (Majandra Delfino) and her wealthy, sex-crazed Aunt Honey (Loretta Devine) to fall back on. As we follow the trials and tribulations of Georgia and Jo in the next several episodes, we like the show less and less, as it increasingly becomes less about Georgia trying to become an actress and more about Georgia trying to solve everyone’s problems with her conceited wit and cliched Southern wisdom (sample dialogue: “I’m so proud of me!” “You’re such a good friend, Georgia”).
Georgia is extraordinarily arrogant, and essentially all her lines contain the words “I” or “me.” In all of Raven-Symoné’s efforts to get laughs, she comes across as a fool and we feel nothing but embarrassment for the formerly lovable child star. She always tries to act bold and headstrong, but she just comes across as annoying, and we find ourselves not rooting for her. We commend her for bringing energy to the role, but as perky and hyper as Raven-Symoné tries to be, she just can’t make up for the atrocious dialogue.
As for Jo, the writers could not have created a more clichéd version of the geeky but pretty sidekick. Jo has trouble approaching anyone for conversation (except, of course, when the infinitely clever Georgia encourages her to do so), and wears ill-fitting khakis and button-downs to remind us that she’s a science nerd. She’s also pretty and has long blonde hair, making her the resident ugly duckling who is bound to receive much male attention after getting a makeover, in the vein of movies like The Princess Diaries and Pretty Woman that have done the same trick before.
As Jo, Delfino tries as hard as possible to make her character likable, but, like Raven-Symoné, feels the need to act like a clown to get some laughs. Delfino’s attempts at comedy often fail miserably, as evidenced when even the show’s editors forget to play the obviously canned laughter track after one of her jokes in the first episode. Plus, she looks bored, but who can blame her? Not to mention, Devine as Aunt Honey is just ridiculous; she stays home all day wearing colorful silk robes in her luxurious apartment and constantly complains with her breathy southern drawl that she’s tired from having too much sex with suitors whom we never see. Georgia and Jo willingly accept advice from this woman.
State of Georgia is just another example of a program that tries to be the next female-centered hit sitcom, but falls hard and flat. At least ABC Family made one good decision in this disaster by having a laugh-track instead of a live audience; our guess is that having an audience would elicit a resounding silence like it does from those of us watching at home. Another good decision: the show has a slight 20-minute running time. The sooner it’s over, the better.
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