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Sunday, June 19, 2016


This could end up being one of the most ironic statements that I have ever made in this blog space, but I really dislike the word "popular".

It's quite ironic, given that the "POP" in "A Pop Culture Addict's Guide To Life" stands for popular.

I mean, it's not like I don't like the word popular in the same context that most people don't like the word moist.  Truth be told, I know a lot of people who don't like the word moist.  It makes me wonder why that Canadian band Moist would ever think it to be a good name.

Anyway, back to the word "popular" and why I don't like it.

Interestingly enough, the reason why I don't like the word isn't because of the fact that I never really saw myself as being popular.  Truth is, I'd be the first one to tell you that I'm not popular.  That's the way I sort of like it.  I don't need to have an entourage of people telling me that I am great - because, let's face it.  That'd get real old, real tiring, and real creepy real fast.

The reason I don't like the word popular is because I feel that it is an impossible word.  Because when it comes down to popularity, it is fleeting and doesn't always last forever.  If it did, I'm sure that CSI, ER, or any other show that ranked at the top of the Nielsen ratings would still be on the air today.  The popular cheerleaders don't always stay popular after the rah-rah-rahs and sis-boom-bahs are uttered.  The football jocks of yesteryear fade away to make room for the fresh young blood.  And eventually people come to the realization that they only need to have the love and respect of a few select people instead of everybody in the world.  I think it's an absolutely pointless quest to try and become the most popular person because there are always going to be people who don't agree.

I mean, I can think of a few people that I know who think that they are popular, but in reality not a lot of people care too much for them.  I'm not going to reveal who those people are...but I've met a few who are like this.

The thing is that life is not meant to be a popularity contest.  It's nice to be liked, but understand that getting the whole world to fall in love with you is an impossible situation. 

I suppose that when it comes to the lives of fictional high school students Sam McPherson and Brooke McQueen, popularity either came naturally or it was something that you had to work on. 

Interestingly enough, the two names I dropped came from the short-lived television series "Popular".

The show aired between September 29, 1999 and May 18, 2001, and I do recall it being a show that a lot of people watched.  I was in my OAC year when the show debuted so certainly it was a byproduct of my generation.  Despite the show's success (it was created by Ryan Murphy who also was the creative genius behind "Nip/Tuck" and "Glee"), it only ran for two years, mainly because it was featured on the struggling WB Network.  All in all, the show itself wasn't terrible, aside from the fact that the show's storylines became more like an episode of "Passions". 

It is a classic case of what happens when you blend the popular in-crowd with the geek squad.  Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) is the popular cheerleader who is adored by nearly everybody at Kennedy High School.  She will do anything to stay popular, no matter how bitchy or insecure she might come across as.  On the other side, you have shy and incredibly intelligent Sam McPherson (Carly Pope), a young woman who has her circle of outcast friends and is quite content with not wanting anything more than that.

Two polar opposites with two different upbringings.  Now, imagine if the two were brought together by something say, a marriage?

When Brooke's father gets engaged to Sam's mother, and Brooke and Sam are forced to live in the same house together, tensions flare.  Immediately, both girls declare that they hate each other and they both make it a point to try and break their parents up so that they can go back to the way things used to be.  And you know what?  They almost succeed in doing exactly that at the end of the show's first year. 

But here's the great part about "Popular".  By the second season, the girls have a major change of heart and decide that their family deserves to stay together, and they even become closer as a result.  Even more interesting is the fact that both of the girls' social circles expands as both girls and their sets of friends start hanging around together.  Some examples include Harrison John (Christopher Gorham), a socially awkward individual who slowly breaks out of his shell and ends up falling for both Brooke and Sam.  We have Nicole Julien (Tammy Lynn Michaels), the incredibly brash and manipulative head cheerleader who is known as Kennedy High's pot stirrer, but behind that social piranha exterior is a wounded and insecure person.  There's Carmen Ferrara and Lily Esposito (Sara Rue and Tamara Mello), two friends of Sam's who start out as part of the unpopular crowd but somehow find a way to move up the social ranks.  There's Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson), the quintessential school jock who softens up the moment he gets involved with Lily.  

And, well...there's Mary Cherry (Leslie Grossman), and well...Mary Cherry is such an enigma of a character trainwreck that I would need an entire blog entry to dissect her incredibly unbelievable personality.  But while she may come across as completely insane, she does provide ample amounts of comic relief.

And you know, when it comes down to popularity, the whole quest for it just seems like one huge comedic moment.  It's almost like a sitcom filled with karmic retribution and a storyline that will never end because the quest for total popularity is one that cannot be won.  Though the good thing about "Popular" is that it certainly did a great job spoofing the very quest to be popular.  I only wish it had a chance to go on.

And, well...there's a particular reason why I decided to talk about "Popular"...and sadly, the reason is one of sorrow.

One of the stars of the show, Ron Lester, passed away on June 17, 2016 at the age of 45.  On the show, Ron played the role of Michael "Sugar Daddy" Bernardino, afootball player who simply wants to be respected and find love despite the fact that he knows his size was a major factor.  Believe me, I could totally relate to Sugar Daddy's concerns. 

As many well know, Lester underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2001, dropping over 300 pounds as a result, and undergoing several cosmetic surgeries to remove excess skin as a result of it.  Unfortunately, fourteen years after the surgery, Lester developed problems with his kidneys and liver, and went into hospice care in early 2016.

May he rest in peace.

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