Clever concept, sleek production values, a nice cast and thoughtful writing (for a teen show) add up to the enjoyable “Opposite Sex,” but low-key summer entry from Fox has no breakout gimmick to hang its gym bag on, and its Wednesday at 8 timeslot almost ensures that this well-produced package will be no “Survivor.”
Show’s opening is a real grabber, introducing 15-year-old Jed (Milo Ventimiglia) and g.f. in soft focus, surrounded by candles, about to consummate their relationship. But hey, not so fast, it’s just a funny dream sequence, and poor Jed is actually in bed in his room.
Seems Jed has had a lot to contend with lately: His girlfriend dumped him and his family moved to Northern California from the East Coast. On top of that, Jed’s widower dad Will (Christopher Cousins) has enrolled him in Evergreen Academy — the top school in NoCal — which has just started to admit boys.
Confused and outraged, Jed’s told he’s a pioneer, and the other two boys in his class, Phil (Kyle Howard) and Cary (Chris Evans), can’t see the downside of the situation: The school sends 85% of its grads to the Ivy League, and the school motto is, apparently, “No Fat Chicks.”
Problems occur when most of the students at Evergreen make it clear that the boys aren’t wanted, that their presence is killing 125 years of tradition. But Jed and his pals don’t cave in to the hostility, enlisting the slightly anti-establishment and lovely Miranda (Margot Finley), a junior that Jed has a huge crush on, to help their cause.
Writers Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein (who penned Drew Barrymore starrer “Never Been Kissed” — a far inferior work compared to “Sex”) smoothly lay out all the exposition, foreshadowing future problems and setting up possible love matches.
The pair keep the tone much lighter than that of kindred teen shows “Freaks and Geeks” and “My So Called Life,” avoiding the oversexed, angst-ridden exploits of other teen series, but have left wiggle room to explore heavier issues in future segs. High-end alt-rock soundtrack also lets the viewer know where the show’s intentions lie.
Lead thesp Ventimiglia’s expressive eyes say a lot, and he is indeed awkward trying to be a man in a woman’s world. Cohorts Howard and Evans have less to work with but bring energy to the table, while Finley gets it right as the older girl who takes Jed under her wing.
Casting kudos to Barbara Miller and Deedee Bradley for finding young thesps that are astoundingly pretty but aren’t clones.
Despite all the good things in this gentle comedy-drama, it’s hard to say who the series is aimed at: It’s not intellectual enough for “Freaks” fans and too grounded for the WB crowd. Young auds will have to seek it out. And therein lies the rub.