The red carpets will unravel Thursday, Oct. 18, for Temple’s digital cable station TUTV’s premier of “Quarter Life Crisis,” a series that follows eight eclectic college students trying to find their places in the world through their experiences both in and beyond the classroom.
“These students take a page out the book of life and learn about the world and themselves through the lens of true experience,” said Michael Busza, a junior communications major and co-creator of the coming-of-age series.
“This show is my call for our generation to turn on its consciousness, tune back into life, and log the hell out of Facebook,” Busza added.
The first scripted show to appear on TUTV, “Quarter Life Crisis” begins when students are left to run the classroom when their professor fails to show. The classroom is filled with very noticeable stereotypes, such as the teacher’s pet, the sexually ambiguous one and the immature artist, who work together to show “that stereotypes are actually avoidable social constructs,” according to the mission statement of the show.
“Every stereotype is paired with someone that challenges them. For example, Geo, the sexually ambiguous one who thinks he knows everything about the entertainment industry, works with Mae, a celebrity who shows him he can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Lauren Pokedoff, a junior communications major and Busza’s partner.
Described by Busza to be a “meta-narrative of our perspective of our education,” “Quarter Life Crisis” aims to show there is more to education than what is learned by looking at a blackboard.
“Education transcends the classroom. It shows we can take charge of own life and journey. Education doesn’t end after you leave the professor,” Busza said.
Pulling from TV-show influences such as “Will and Grace” and its success with openly homosexual main characters, Tina Fey and the writers of “Saturday Night Live,” the idea for “Quarter Life Crisis” came to life last summer while Busza and Pokedoff were on a service trip in West Virginia.
“We set out to do the project because the media studies and production program [at Temple] has been based on production of sports, news and studio but not creative original content,” Busza said.
This discontentment with what higher education has failed to offer is shown as a theme in the show: One must not rely strictly on the institution and knowledge is best uncovered through experience.
The creation of the show gave everyone involved a glimpse into the background of production and the work that goes into every part.
Guy Mandia, a junior musical theater major, plays sexually ambiguous Geo Monroe, who he describes as “openly sassy and flirtatious.”
Mandia credits “Quarter Life Crisis” for his first opportunity to be in front of the camera in an actual role and not as an extra mulling around in the background.
“To develop the character [of Monroe] I spent a couple of nights thinking about what he has been through and how he describes himself and shows himself in public. I developed Geo as a person — there would be no ounce of Guy when I was Geo.”
This was also junior sociology and Spanish double major Lauren Williams’ first time in front of a camera.
She plays Corrine Cassidy, who she describes as “the teacher’s pet, kiss a– who has no friends.”
Williams said the production of “Quarter Life Crisis” was both fun and difficult but gave great insight into what the entertainment industry is about.
“There were times we had to figure out how to do things on our own,” Williams said. “It was really a fun way to experience things.”
In 2011, Busza was awarded the Lew Klein Excellence in Media Scholarship which, in conjunction with funding from TUTV and independent donations, set the production of “Quarter Life Crisis” in motion.
The cast and crew give major credit to professor and general manager of TUTV Paul Gluck for their success.
“[Gluck] took us under his wing. He told us ‘I believe in your project so I believe in you.’ It’s great to have that support,” Busza said.
Gluck offered the students a connection with the industry they yearn to work with and was both a “professor and professional,” Busza said.
“He was very helpful. He pulled us out of crisis, we would call him like ‘Help!’ and he would respond immediately,” Pokedoff said.
Along with Gluck, Busza and Pokedoff give much credit to Temple and TUTV for the opportunity to spread the message of “Quarter Life Crisis.” TUTV is a Philadelphia public access channel that reaches anyone in the community with a television.
“I’m a Philly boy, a Philly kid, and Temple has been a big part of my growth, I am very Temple Made,” Busza said. “TUTV has been there from the get go, it’s great to participate in something Temple related.”
“Because it’s a college aged audience, it’s relatable. There are so many different characters, each person could identify with at least one person on the show,” Williams said.
Busza and Pokedoff will be celebrating the red carpet premier of “Quarter Life Crisis” Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at The Pearl.
Jenine Pilla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.