From 2000 to 2010, the American people have endured difficult elections and presidencies, recessions, two major wars and a host of other controversies that all tore at the fabric of the country. Through it all, people lived their lives but had to constantly change their preconceived ideas about their future.
As high school seniors, the characters of ABC’s new drama My Generation met with a film crew, explaining their outlook on their hopes and dreams. Now, ten years later, the film crew has returned to see how the extreme events of the decade reshaped their future. Only this documentary is different from any other – it is entirely fiction.
“What we’re doing here is not a reality show,” says Warren Littlefield, executive producer of the show. Littlefield says the docudrama will take as much reality as it can, but combines the real-life events of the decade with a scripted series.
“We all lived through a lot in the last 10 years,” says writer and executive producer Noah Hawley. “I find it really interesting to connect life stories to world events.” My Generation, like many high-school dramas examines the usual stereotypes: the jock, the dweeb, the wallflower, the beauty queen, and the rich kid. But unlike a typical John Hughes flick,
shows how the hopes and dreams of the star athlete and geek may not pan out entirely.
“I play Dawn Barbuso, the punk, who grows up to have a life that she would never know she would have – which is pregnant with a husband,” says Kelly Garner (Bully, The Aviator), who plays the outcast degenerate that ends up with the high school jock. Which is somewhat ironic because, as she claims, “I was not a punk in high school. I was extremely shy. I had a mouth full of braces and was misunderstood.”
Anne Son, who portrays “wallflower” Caroline Chung, is also playing against type, because in high school she was the punk and in the show she plays the girl with the mouth full of braces.
“There are these archetype characters – my character is the over-achiever,” says Michael Stahl- David (The Black Donnellys, Cloverfield), who plays Steven Foster. “The filmmaker comes back 10 years later and my character is a beach bum – you were on your way to become a lawyer or a doctor – what happened?”
In order to create the documentary/reality feel of the show, the producers and crew had to utilize footage from the news, YouTube video uploads and even personal photos and videos of the cast.
“There is a line in the fact that we are playing different people,” says Mechad Brooks (The Deep End), who plays the athletic star Rolly Marks. “Because they are using our childhood photos and home videos, I wake up sometimes and I go, ‘Am I Rolly?’”
Stahl-David says the show’s producers, along with these additional clips and footage, utilized improvisation along with scripted scenes to keep the show as real as it can be. While some scenes required rehearsals and lines, the producers wanted the cast to stay on their toes and react to the situations in real time.
“It’s honest, funny and human,” says Jaime King (Sin City, Bulletproof Monk), who plays Jackie Vachs, the cheerleader. “I don’t feel like I’m playing a character, I feel like I get to be this girl.”
Through all its real and scripted moments, My Generation points out the strong truth of how difficult it is to succeed in a world destined for failure – especially for a generation poisoned with apathy.
“I think we are hard to inspire, but once we get inspired – there is no stopping us,” Brooks says about his generation. “I’m really excited to see where we can go, because we could go either way – I think the last 10 years have shaped a world to where we’ve had to wake up.”