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UPN's 'Social Studies' Gets a Low Grade for Comportment

March 18, 1997|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Antisocial describes "Social Studies," UPN's mean-spirited new comedy set in a coed boarding school whose curriculum of sex-and-slut jokes--spewed across the airwaves at 8:30 p.m.--is as grating as the twirps who crack them.

Located on New York's Upper West Side, the Woodbridge School is a former sanctuary for stuck-up teens that has been forced by economic realities to accommodate the "financially diverse." The premiere finds Sara the school snot (Vanessa Evigan) taking nasty revenge on her roommate, Madison (Lisa Wilhoit), whom she mistakenly believes ratted on her for spending the previous night with a boy instead of studying for a test.

When the kids aren't trash talking, the Woodbridge staff is. But at least Bonnie McFarlane as working-class-bred teacher Kit Weaver, Julia Duffy as prim principal Frances Harmon and Adam Ferrara as earthy gym teacher Dan Rossini are skilled enough to execute their mutual put-downs with wit that transcends snideness.

Kit, especially, is a genuinely likable character whose verbal duels with the snooty Frances, caught up in reliving her past as a Woodbridge student, produce the show's occasional good moments. Too occasional, unfortunately.

* "Social Studies" premieres at 8:30 tonight on UPN (Channel 13). The network has rated it TV-PG (may contain some material that some parents would find unsuitable for younger children).

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