No two journeys are the same and that also goes for generations. Older generations like to say that the younger ones have it easy. But they couldn’t have known the changes life would bring and its effects on the growing generations and how they explore and view love, sex, gender and sexuality. The new Max Original dramedy series, GENERA+ION, follows a diverse group of high school students whose exploration of modern sexuality (devices and all) tests deeply entrenched beliefs about life, love and the nature of family in their conservative community.
Created by the father-daughter team, Zelda Barnz, Daniel Barnz and Ben Barnz. GENERA+ION is a refreshing, realistic and grounded coming of age story. The characters are multidimensional, colorful, embracive and diverse, even though their surrounding environment is similar to your typical high school.
In 2006 Disney Channel premiered High School Musical, a story about Troy Bolton, high school basketball player, and Gabriela Montes, an academic decathlon student, who break the status quo by auditioning for the school spring musical. Although a work of fiction, the character of Troy Bolton – wanting to switch from playing a masculine sport to theater, which was considered the opposite to some degree – was considered eye opening for the family friendly channel. Although not exactly ground breaking or even earth shattering, his character began to bring forward the questioning of gender roles and norms to all the young millennials who were watching.
Chester, played by Justice Smith, is your high school hotshot waterpolo player with a 4.1 GPA, has an outspoken personality and a taste for the flare – he is also a an enigmatic queer. The character of Chester not only breaks the micromanaged-norms of gender roles – he is wearing a crop top when you first meet him- but he is also extremely confident and uncaring of the remarks he receives.
Nathan, played by Uly Schlesinger, is out – at least to his friend Riley – and in awe of just how courageous Chester is, when he sees him walking across campus in a crop top. He has no shame in his bisexuality, except for the fact that his conservative mother and twin sister have no idea. His sister Naomi, also happens to be in a very PG-13 relationship with a boy who is also in a sexual relationship with her brother. Nathan not only struggles with keeping his sexuality a secret but also that he is hooking up with his sister’s boyfriend.
Greta, played by Haley Sanchez, appears shy and timid and attracted to Riley, a magnetic photographer and Nathan’s good friend. She is not open with her attraction to Riley – but if the distant longing looks are an indicator – accepting that she has feelings for a girl might be a personal struggle.
Then there is Riley, the class photographer and resident “chill girl.” She represents that supportive friend who puts her needs second and is always making sure that everyone else is okay. At the end of the 1st episode you get the sense that there is more to her and that it may be getting to her.
Within the first few minutes of episode one, there is a girl – whose identity is not given – giving birth in the bathroom of the mall food court. The only person with her is Naomi, who like the unknown friend, has no idea what to do or how to give birth – luckily there are YouTube videos that can help, since apparently anything can be learned on YouTube. Could this be the season’s mystery?
In the past shows like Degrassi, The O.C, Dawson’s Creek and even Gossip Girl, have all tried to capture the true essence of Gen X, Y, Millennials and now Gen Z. However, they showed the teenagers acting as adults rather than just being teenagers. Some of these series depicted a world where adults were pretty much non-existent and others as overtly naive. What GENERA+ION does so well is show the balance that does exist and tropes that are true in every generation regardless of the decade you were born in.
This dark yet playful half-hour series, will premiere with three episodes this Thursday, then following with two episodes on March 18th and 25th and ending its first half of the season on April 1st. An additional eight episodes comprising the second half of the season will debut later this year.
The ensemble cast includes Nathanya Alexander, Chloe East, Nava Mau, Lukita Maxwell, Haley Sanchez, Uly Schlesinger, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Chase Sui Wonders with Justice Smith and Martha Plimpton. Recurring guest stars include J. August Richards, Mary Birdsong, Alicia Coppola, Patricia De Leon, Diego Josef, Anthony Kevyan, Sydney Mae Diaz, John Ross Bowie, Marwan Salama, Marisela Zumbado and Sam Trammell.