I watched POPULAR when I was in high school, back in 2000-2001. It holds a special place in my heart and watching it really brings back memories. It was really one of the finest shows the WB ever produced. I'm a few years older now, but it's funny because life doesn't really change much. We are all still looking for popularity, love, friendship, family strength, confidence, and success. These were the major themes in the show, and rarely does a show present such intelligent and mature views of relationships. It was much, much more than a teen soap opera. It was a commentary on society in general, and our need to belong.
I really related to the characters in POPULAR. Sure, real life in high school during this time was never as glamorous or as fabulous as presented in this show--but I think we all wished it was, and POPULAR gave us dreams. I wasn't the only person who watched the show--a few of my friends also did, and we were all so surprised by its cancellation. We all secretly hoped it would return for another season, and waited, but that never happened.
I think that was because we were all so attached to the characters--and each of the actors was a star in their own right. Carly Pope branched off and did a very fine film called "Trapped in a Purple Haze," in which she had a very tragic role. Sara Rue, who played Carmen, did an incredible movie called "Gypsy 83." Thinking back, 2000-2001 was a great time for movies. Just think how many wonderful movies came out then, such as Moulin Rouge or Pay it Forward or AI. There were many pop culture references made in POPULAR, from vintage stars like Joan Crawford and Lauren Bacall to frequent references to Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. The character Nicole Julian was basically a combination of Sharon Stone and Madonna. She was the perfect example of the bad girl with a heart of gold, and I loved how fully developed her character became as the series progressed. All of the characters were multi-dimensional and very real.
I really hated to see these characters, who felt like friends, go. But I guess it mirrored the transition we all make to adult. The show ended, I graduated high school a couple years later, but now when I watch the show it's like I'm back in high school again. Not that I miss high school--it was a difficult time and I'm glad I've moved on, but I still have vivid memories that come back to life when I watch the show. It's a magical experience that I cherish.
More than anything, the show had heart. It was extremely kooky, and sometimes really lame, but that was all part of its charm. It had its serious, dramatic moments, like when Brooke has an eating disorder and shares a very special relationship with Harrison, or when Nicole saves Harrison's life on Christmas. It's all just really beautiful and heartwarming in a way that is lacking from most TV shows. There is no lack of depth in POPULAR. It never glossed over the real issues all of us--not just high schoolers--face. It painted a very true picture of relationships and the struggles we face.
It's a great show, and of course a few of the episodes are clunkers, but the magical episodes make up for it. One in particular, in which Ann Margaret guest stars, is just great. Also, who can forget some of Mary Cherry or Nicole Julian's lines? Priceless! I still remember from my first viewing of the episode where Mary Cherry is gluing someone to a toilet seat and she shrieks, "This is what Lauren Bacall uses to hold up her face!" In what other show could you possibly expect to hear a line like that? It's part of the fun of this show.