Monday, March 10, 2008
High School Confidential - March 10th
An eight-part documentary follows the lives of a dozen girls as they move from freshman through senior year in "High School Confidential."
Is anyone planning on watching this show. Below is a little preview for the show:
Here is a show write up:
HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. Monday at 10 p.m., WE
Two things are appealing about the WE's eight-part series that follows 12 girls through four years of high school in Overland Park, Kan.
The first is what it includes.
Because filmmaker Sharon Liese was willing to spend four years on this project, a long span of time when you're seeing no finished product, she filmed a huge amount of material.
So when she needs to make a point, she has the footage to make it. She doesn't have to bridge gaps or ask questions with the melodramatic voiceovers common in "reality" productions.
The second is what it doesn't include.
Maybe because Liese is the single mother of a high school girl herself, or maybe because she spent so much time with these girls that she developed real respect for them, this series doesn't ever feel like it's simply holding its subjects up for our amusement.
That doesn't mean Liese pulls her cinematic punches. When she talks about the hard-partying life of Cappie, she shows us blurry video of the stoned boyfriend and the casual underage drinking.
Cappie's pretty blunt herself when she talks about the rules of partying, like going outside to smoke dope or developing code words so a girlfriend will know to rescue you from a drunken boy.
But these scenes feel like reports from the front, not second-hand thrills, because Liese can be so straightforward that sometimes she could be shooting for public television. While the theme music and come-hither teases are here, they're muted.
The structure is mostly chronological, following one to three girls per hour-long episode. The two profiled tonight, Lauren and Cappie, don't seem to have any particular connection. They just create the interesting contrast of two pretty girls on different paths.
Lauren's a clean-cut kid who gets blindsided by a serious medical problem - the drama from which Liese almost underplays, clearly not wishing to exploit it.
Cappie, at the same time, is narrating her internal battle: whether the good, responsible kid will eventually control the party girl.
The title "High School Confidential" promises more than it delivers, if viewers are expecting a lurid exposé. But in a stricter sense, it's accurate. Liese gets the girls and their parents to confide a reasonably honest set of assessments, sentiments and concerns.
The result is a picture that feels true. It's very likely incomplete because few people tell everything to a camera, but the insecurities and the growing confidence are conveyed with language and an attitude that seem fairly natural.
It's worth remembering that this show is set in a reasonably affluent and very white suburb, so it's missing some issues that would color the high school experience in other places.
But it's a serious and sympathetic film on a subject whose nuances are as individual as snowflakes and every bit as tricky to capture and preserve.