Judge Cynthia Boris wishes there was crying in football.
Welcome to Hoover, Alabama, where football isn't just a local pastime, it's like a religion.
After presenting the glamorous side of teenage life in The Hills, 8th and Ocean, and Laguna Beach, MTV turned its cameras toward "normal." No designer fashion shows, no hip nightclubs, no Prada purses; Two-A-Days: Hoover High is likely the most realistic reality show I've ever seen. Its so realistic, it could be a show on NBC. Wait a second—I think it is a show on NBC! Only they call it Friday Night Lights.
Facts of the Case
Two-A-Days, the number of times the team practices during football season, is an MTV reality series that follows the Hoover High School Buccaneers of Hoover, Alabama as they try to claim their fourth state championship title in five years.
Like all good reality shows, the stars just happen to be the cutest guys on the team. So even though average guy Ross Wilson is the quarterback and the team's MVP, he doesn't get as much airtime as the team's boy-band-cute players Alex Binder and Max Lerner.
Alex, a senior and starting safety, is the leading player in the story. You'll also meet his girlfriend, senior cheerleader (big surprise) Kristin, cleverly named teammates "Repete" Smith and Goose Dunham, and the head coach Rush Propst.
Video interviews are cut together with "day-in-the-life" footage of Alex and his friends going to school, hanging out after, training, practicing and playing the game. Coach Propst isn't settling for anything less than another championship win and he is tough on these players—so tough I was surprised when none of them dropped dead from exertion!
There are only nine hour-long episodes that take you from the start of the season to that final game.
I asked to review this DVD because I'm a big fan of Friday Night Lights and Two-A-Days seemed like the real thing. There are an awful lot of similarities between the two shows—high school football in towns where it's not a sport but a religion. The pressure to win. The celebrity status of the players. The parties, the girlfriends, and school. But there is one huge difference between the two: Friday Night Lights is interesting and Two-A-Days isn't. The reason it isn't, I believe, was a directorial choice. Unlike MTV's other reality shows, this one dealt mostly with the on-the-field moments and much less of the teen lifestyle moments. Sure there are break-ups and cheating boyfriends, but as quickly as these ideas are introduced, they're tossed away. I expected more dramatic fodder when an important player was injured during the game; that too was brushed aside in favor of more game footage.
Maybe in this case, the editors at MTV decided to lean their selective editing more toward the real world and away from the tiny sparks of drama that naturally occur over the course of six months in high school. Or maybe the life of a Hoover High football star just isn't all that exciting after all. Whatever the reason, you won't find the same level of whining, crying, and backstabbing that has come to be a trademark of reality shows. On second thought, maybe that's a good thing.
MTV did a great job making these episodes very DVD friendly. With the Play All option you can watch an entire disc without having to sit through credits at the end of each episode. Also, the recaps are minimal and only occur at the start of each episode instead of after every commercial break. I don't like MTV's habit of stacking trailers up front instead of going straight to the menu, but you can fast forward through them.
Since there are only nine episodes on this set, the last disc is nothing but special features. First up is the MTV preview special that was run to pimp the show before it aired. Made up mostly of scenes from the show, it's only interesting if you watch it before you watch the series. The "Overtime" feature is a grouping of themed clips, some of which are outtakes, some are promos, and some just clips from the show. Watch them after you watch the series and you'll get more out of the extended and missing scenes.
On a side note, whenever I watch one of these "quest for the gold" reality series I always wonder the same thing. What if the team didn't make it? Think about it. Suppose MTV followed these boys around for two months and they lost in the first round of the play-offs? Do they follow two teams just in case one turns out to be a bust? If anyone has the answer to that question, email it to me because I'm dying to know.
Two-A-Days appears to be aimed at the young male audience with its high concentration of football footage. It nicely captures the intense pressure that is put on these boys not only to win the championship but to earn college scholarships—for some of them, the only way out. It's rumored that after the initial airing, there was a backlash because of Coach Probst's language and training style. It all seemed a bit harsh to me, but the man does win football games and for many people, that's all that matters.
MTV fumbles the ball a number of times, but still you'll want to stay until the end of the game just to see who wins.
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