EXT. COMMONWEALTH AVENUE – DAY
An 18-year-old girl, SAM, dressed in bright white Keds and a Boston University sweatshirt, steps out of a taxicab. Suitcase in hand, she overtips the driver because she doesn’t know any better. Red balloons and WELCOME CLASS OF 2017 banners are draped in every corner. The courtyard in front the GSU is packed with incoming FRESHMEN. An UPPERCLASSMAN sees her look of confusion and waves at SAM to come over.
Hey, is this where you sign in?
You bet it is. Name please?
Sam – I mean Samantha – Samantha Bansil.
Looks like you’re all set. Need help finding your dorm?
The UPPERCLASSMAN hands SAM a free t-shirt, lanyard, and water bottle. SAM struggles to position these items in her arms as she grabs hold of her bulky suitcase.
I think I can manage. Thanks for the offer though.
The UPPERCLASSMAN then adds a complimentary rape whistle to SAM’s awkward pile.
Here’s your official BU rape whistle. Don’t blow it unless it’s actually happening!
SAM turns around without further comment, a skeptical look on her face. Her expression changes to that of wonder as she scans the courtyard. It is a scene from a typical college brochure. A few yards away, COLLEGE KIDS are throwing a frisbee around. By the benches, a circle has gathered to practice freestyle rap. SAM, still in awe of her surroundings, begins to walk with purpose toward her dorm.
This is it. This is college. Not bad for 60 grand a year. No, I’ll worry about that after graduation. This year, I am going to be everything I want to be. Happy? Check. Sociable? Double check. I am going to be a new person. I won’t screw things up like I did in high school. No way. I am going to win at college. I am going to have fun. I am going to get a kickass GPA. I am going to—
SAM’s internal monologue comes to an abrupt halt as she walks straight into RHETT THE TERRIER. She rushes to apologize, but RHETT, in his mascot costume, cannot see clearly. He accidentally knocks her over as he turns around. In a ridiculous display, SAM is swept off her feet. Suitcase, water bottle, and rape whistle go flying.
By now, a crowd of NERDY FRESHMEN have gathered around her. They point and look on in horror.
She stepped on the seal!
Isn’t that supposed to be a curse?
We all know what that means…
Ha! That she’ll get pregnant before graduation.
The NERDY FRESHMEN continue to snicker in the background. SAM lies sprawled on her back in the middle of the Marsh Plaza seal, staring dejectedly up at the camera.
How’s that for winning?
Cue opening credits and upbeat theme song. Laughter ensues.
At least, that’s how my first day of college would have turned out if I was the star of my own television show. Seriously though. How great would it be if life was the way it was portrayed on TV? Everyday would bring an endless slew of awkward but humorous encounters. I’d spend basically every waking moment with the same five or six friends at the same apartment/coffee shop/bar (or in the case of broke college students, dining hall/dormitory). And we’d know too much way about each other because we are all so heavily involved in each other’s lives.
But wait—isn’t that my life already?
It’s fun to pretend that you’re the quirky heroine of some prime-time sitcom. It makes life more tolerable at the very least. Have an embarrassing run-in with the guy you like? Don’t worry, there’s no way in hell you could have been more awkward than Jessica Day. Ever inappropriately burst out into show tunes in a very public place? It’s okay, sitcoms have musical episodes, like, all the time! And have you ever done something that was so completely idiotic in retrospect, but you ended up hurting the people you cared about because you didn’t realize it at the time? Rest assured that they won’t stay mad at you for long—it’s good for advancing the plot (besides, everyone knows that the conflict just HAS to be resolved by the end of the episode).
As my freshman year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on all that has happened from the pilot episode to the season finale. I think about how many people wrote in my high school yearbook, “Don’t ever change.” What a terrible thing to tell someone. Life is all about changing and coming into your own. And if we’re talking character development here, then I sure have changed. I have changed quite a bit.
But there are some things about real life that sitcoms fail to capture. Your failed relationships and one-night-stands are never there for a mere two-episode arc. They will often cling to the periphery of your life, casting a faint shadow on your next love interest and your pillowcase and just about everything that you do. Sometimes, you’ll screw up. Big time. You won’t get to show up at their doorstep at two in the morning to give an epic apology speech. They won’t forgive you at the drop of a hat—trust has to be regained. There won’t be an “awww” moment where the two of you kiss and make up. The witty banter won’t resume as though nothing had happened.
It’s never that easy. When you first make a mistake, you don’t always learn from it. Danny Tanner won’t sit you down and lay out the moral of the story for you (you’ll know it when you hear the accompanying cheesy music). No, you’ll have to figure it out on your own. Sometimes, you’ll have to make the same mistake over and over again until the lesson finally sinks in. Other times, it won’t make sense until years in the future, when you’re far too old and boring to star in your own primetime sitcom.
Even though we think of our lives in terms of episodes, we often forget that as soon as one chapter ends, another begins. Season 2 returns next fall and, as Barney Stinson would say, it will be legend…wait for it…dary!
Just sit back and stay tuned.