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Better Than Expected: The Hard Times of RJ Berger

I've figured out where MTV wants to fit into your television viewing life cycle. It's a place they've been filling already, only now they're adding scripted programming to the mix. As teens grow beyond 'iCarly,' there's been no place to go. Adult shows are too sophisticated; dealing with issues they either aren't ready to tackle yet, or don't even understand. Enter 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger.' As my esteemed colleague Joel Keller pointed out earlier this month, 'Berger' -- 'Hung' for the junior set -- seems to rather quickly ignore the titular appendage. That's actually an asset for the future of the show. What kind of legs can a high school comedy be if its obsessed with its lead character's genitalia all the time? It does come up again in the third episode, in an incredibly awkward way, but it's everything that happened around that moment that worked as comedy. Perhaps the series speaks too closely to my own insecure early years, but I think 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger' nails the teen experience of its target audience in an uncomfortably authentic way. To Read More Click Here .

Hard Time of RJ Berger comes up Limp

In the vein of the Wonder Years, Freaks and Geeks, & SuperBad, the Hard Times of RJ Berger storms onto the cable tv horizon hoping to capture the hearts, minds and... groin? of young teenagers everywhere. Unfortunately it comes up limp. Let me begin by saying that the show does have crude humor that will probably attract an audience for the first few episodes, but I personally don't see how the show intends to retain fans after the crude, crotch jokes and over-sexed comments get old. The concept of the show is based on RJ Berger, a high school outcast that is well endowed, and after an embarrassing incident, the whole school now knows his "big" secret. With his meat out on display for the world, the show seems to be moving in the direction of making RJ, the contemporary hero of geeks everywhere. The shows casts is functional but not original. The characters all come off too forced in their actions and dialogue. Amber Lancaster, who plays Jenny, does show signs of an actress that maybe more than just looks, but then again we have only seen one episode thus far. The crude humor and sex charged punch lines are no surprise for MTV, but for the networks first attempt at scripted tv, Hard Times seems ill advised. Overall, The Hard Times of RJ Berger tries hard to be a modern day Wonder Years, mixed with the brash nature of Superbad, but the show misses two major components. Sustainability and cleverness. The humor of Hard Times is funny initially, but it runs dry by the end of the first episode. Maybe the show should have focused on keeping RJ's package a secret through the first season, only revealing it in the season finale. This would have allowed us to fall in love with RJ, his friends and their struggle with a Jock controlled world. This also would have allowed the show to go in many different places, without having to keep referring back to RJ's package. But either way, the "dirty minded" audiences of MTV will probably enjoy their initial journey into Hard Times... until the dick jokes get old or when Jersey Shore starts back up.