Throwback Thursday: Pop Arts Revisits…Greek!

I happened across the sweet nugget of joy that is Greek when I was home ill from work one day a few years ago. I was flipping through the channels trying to find something to distract myself with. I chanced upon a double bill of Greek, then being shown on E4. It happened to be only the fourth episode of the first season and after those first two episodes, I was hooked.

Through the miracle that is modern technology, I set the TV up to record the two episodes shown every weekday lunch time, binge-watching whenever I had the flat to myself. I zipped through all four seasons in a year and was slightly heartbroken when it ended and I realised I had no more new episodes to look forward to.

Greek is a TV show made by ABC Family (who are also responsible for my beloved Pretty Little Liars). It centres on the Greek system at a fictional Ohio university named Cyprus-Rhodes. Our main characters populate three houses: Kappa Tau Gamma and Omega Chi Delta (fraternities) and Zeta Beta Zeta (ΖΒZ, the sorority). Our way in is through Rusty Cartwright; freshman, geeky and keen to get the ultimate college experience, Rusty decides to ‘rush’ (applying for a fraternity or sorority). He is initially courted by the Omega Chis when it’s revealed his sister, popular, preppie Casey Cartwright, is the girlfriend of mega Omega Chi and golden son of super-rich family, Evan Chambers. However, Rusty is more drawn to the chaotic Kappa Taus, who house all the misfits and happen to be led by Casey’s ex, Cappie. Despite the Omega Chis being more prestigious and the Kappa Taus being seen as a joke, Rusty quickly learns that brotherhood is stronger in the KTs and that they are far more willing to accept him as he is. In the midst of rushing, he manages to get entangled in his sister’s love life and up-end her whole set up, which initially infuriates her but ends up bringing them closer. A LOT happens in the pilot (as is the way with TV), but Greek settles into a neat pattern after a while; there are various parties, competitions and projects all Greek houses get involved in, allowing for plenty of interaction and friction amongst our cast. There is a constant antagonism between best-friends-turned-rivals Cappie and Evan, as well as them featuring in your classic love triangle with Casey.

Greek is seriously under-rated and stands out to me as great TV for a number of reasons. For starters it has a genuinely ethnically diverse cast: of the seven main characters, three of them are played by actors of colour. This is particularly well represented by the girls, where all three of the actresses are different ethnicities. There is also one of the most realistic depictions of a gay character I’ve seen on TV. Calvin (Paul James) is a great character, who happens to be gay. His sexuality does come up – his coming out to his fraternity is a major arc for him in the first season – but we quickly learn that he is already out and merely being discreet, as he doesn’t wish to be defined by his sexual preferences – he wants people to get to know him first. Once he is open with his ‘brothers’, it never comes up again as an ‘issue’ and his dating life is both as simple and as complicated as everyone else’s.

Each character gets their own story arcs and perhaps surprisingly for a TV show about fraternities and sororities, (almost) all the characters are given a proper chance to develop. While there are a lot of parties, the show emphasises the community aspect to the Greek system and the close bonds that are forged. I particularly like Ashley and Casey’s and Rusty, Calvin and Dale’s friendships; they all felt true to life and remained consistent throughout.

Greek is a TV show about friendship, fun and finding out who you are. It came along at just the right time in my life, when I was wondering where to go next and watching Casey, Cappie, Rusty and Ashley go through the same thing made it all that little bit easier. It’s a sweet, uplifting show – go watch!

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