Look Out Orange County
What could Orange County and Boston College possibly have in common, other than enough Lacoste shirts to knit the world a sweater?
They are both the backdrop for popular sit-coms centered on a young man who is plucked from a bad situation and dropped in a luxurious world of spoiled younguns. Of course, the audience of "The B.C." isn’t in the millions like Fox’s "The O.C.," but the one episode that is available online has gotten nearly 30,000 hits, and garnered attention from major media outlets in Boston announcing today’s premier of the second episode.
Whereas the rich kids of "The O.C." cast runway model looks every which way as they take themselves as seriously as possible, "The B.C.’ers" are a bit more tongue in cheek. In "The O.C.," the hoody-wearing protagonist who has had trouble with the law is taken in by a pro-bono public defender. In "The B.C.," hoody-wearing Woody Atryan, played by co-writer and Boston College senior Woody Tondorf, is taken in from the "streets" of Boston University, where he got caught trying to steal a car, by the Rev. Donald A. MacMillan, a campus minister who plays himself, Hallelujah ringtone and all, and steals every scene he’s in.
Woody initially struggles to find his hoody-way among the Abercrombies and Fitches of campus, noting that all he sees are people wearing shirts with “some guy on a polo horse with a stick,” he says, “and this alligator,” referring to the Lacoste logo.
When Woody first meets his new roommate, Seth Lohan, a campus tour guide played by Joe Sabia, the creator and co-writer of the show and a Boston College senior, he tries to help out by putting Seth’s collar down. “What are you doing?” Seth snaps at him. “You knew that your collar was up?” Woody asks, bewildered.
Poking fun at stereotypes about dress, classes, and parties, has turned a little spoof that Sabia and Tondorf began for a campus comedy group into a B.C. phenomenon. Scott McGoohan, a senior who said he’s a big fan of both "The O.C." and "The B.C.," said it’s the universality of the themes that has hooked people. “No matter where you are,” he said, “you’ve got that jock, that prissy girl, that new kid.”
In the midst of making fun of Boston College, the show also highlights stereotypes about “the inner city school versus the beautiful campus school,” said Sabia, in throwing some barbs at Boston University. “When we look at the huge school in the city, we think Champion and dog tags,” he said, “and … stealing cars,” he added with a laugh.
When Autumn Strebor, the hard-partying student played by junior Jess Colavita, first hears about Woody, her reaction is “B.U.?...eww.” Her friend, Melissa Hooper, "The B.C."’s version of Mischa Barton, played by junior Nicolle Buckley, is more understanding. Kind of. She has to tutor Woody, who, coming from B.U., is overwhelmed by classes like “Intro to Christian Theology,” where the professor says he presumes “you are all fluent in Latin and Greek.” She quickly realizes that Woody doesn’t “seem like someone from B.U.,” she says.
“I don’t know how you can assume what somebody’s like because of the school they’re from,” Woody replies.
“Well, we try,” Melissa says bluntly.
The tutoring is complete with a celebrity cameo. In addition to getting priests and professors to go on camera, Sabia and Tondorf got an appearance from Craig Smith, Boston College's star basketball player, who will likely be charging a whole lot more for appearances in the near future. For the second episode, the creators lined up an older, but perhaps no less glamorous –- at least on campus –- celebrity: the Rev. William B. Neenan, vice president of Boston College and special assistant to the president. In his scene, Father Neenan is having a discussion with Father MacMillan about such things as R&B artist Usher, and the meaning of “shizzle.” Father Neenan parts with, naturally, a special handshake and a “holler at your boy.” Said Father Neenan: “I didn’t know exactly what I said, but it was fun.”
Father Neenan and Father MacMillan agreed that the project is a good way to show how interactive priests at Boston College are with students. “I have had the experience of … discovering a new piece to ministry in this project,” Father MacMillan wrote in an e-mail. “We Jesuits teach and learn from our students,” he added. Buckley said she likes to work with “the older generation at B.C.” who she might not otherwise spend much time with, adding that her “favorite thing is when Father Don does anything.”
Father MacMillan’s triumphant moment in episode one comes when he delivers an impassioned speech, to the theme song from the movie Rudy, in an effort to keep Woody from getting sent back to B.U. as punishment for a fight with the basketball team. “If anything, the fault lies with his being down the B Line,” Father MacMillan says, before yanking off his priest’s collar.
Tondorf said that the second episode will make the first “look like Claymation.” If so, The B.C.’ers might see their campus fame continue to skyrocket. Buckley, an economics major from California, said back in middle school she wanted to be a famous actress, and got an agent and went on auditions, but nothing came of it. “And I come here and fall into this, and instant fame!,” she said. Though Buckley watches "The O.C." every week, she has stopped trying to parrot Mischa Barton. “She’s a lot to live up to,” Buckley said. Plus, “we’re funnier.”