Underemployed Season 1 Review “Pilot”

After the success of both Teen Wolf and Awkward (and, to a lesser extent, The Inbetweeners), MTV’s new scripted drama, Underemployed, kicks off as a mini-event of sorts, trying it’s very best to be as topical and relatable as possible in our troubled times.

With representing graduate unemployment the main mission statement of the show, you might expect it to be a bit of a downer. On the contrary, the writers have done a brilliant job of keeping just the right amount of wish-fulfilment and hope, even in the face of complete failure for many of the characters. We follow a group of college friends as they celebrate their graduation and start the path to ‘complete world domination’. Fast forward eight months and each of the five are nowhere near living their dream, struggling to make ends meet in dead-end jobs and sticky situations.

The closest the show gets to a star is Rock of Ages actor Diego Boneta, who portrays aspiring model Miles. Aiming high, it’s a bit of shock for him to be stripping, getting topless waiter jobs and spraying perfume in a department store, but he’s one of the only characters who we see actually heading in the right direction. With only eight months having passed since graduation you don’t expect him to be headlining campaigns, and at least his one-off jobs are loosely related to his dream career. His plot line in this premiere is one of the periphery ones, as he works a party attended by Calvin Klein.

Sofia, our resident aspiring author, is having less luck. Spending her days working at a donut shop and her nights staring at a blank document, this lifestyle will strike a chord with any struggling writers. Sofia is also a character exploring her sexuality, and it’s lovely to see a different experience represented on screen. Her encounter with a friend’s female boss isn’t crass or forced like so many gay sex scenes on television, and the preview for the rest of the season shows her questioning what sexual preferences really are. I’m looking forward to how this plays out just to see something slightly different in a youth-targeted show like Underemployed.

Then we have Daphne, who appears to be doing the best job of her life out of all of the friends. Originally wanting to be a photographer, she’s ended up at a swanky marketing firm, even though she’s working for free. Having been an unpaid intern for over a year, we catch up with the character just as she asks for some compensation, and the privilege comes with some strings attached. Sleeping with her boss on a lunch break, Daphne is informed by her friends that she can’t have both, and I really hope her resolve to keep the job doesn’t end up biting her in the ass later on.

The star-crossed couple of the piece is formed by Raviva and Lou, who originally broke up after college in a show of faux maturity. But, arriving back at Lou’s door eight months later is a heavily pregnant Raviva, and the couple have to quickly decide how they’re going to support a child before they’ve paid back their own college debt. I didn’t expect an unplanned pregnancy this early in the series, and definitely didn’t expect the child to arrive before the end of the pilot but, looking ahead to what’s to come from the show this might have been a good idea. The series is clearly aiming to represent different experiences, and young graduate parents are one of those largely unrepresented statistics we usually like to ignore.

Though it’s probably true to life, I wish all of the characters weren’t arts graduates – don’t science students ever find themselves out of work too? This aside, I really enjoyed this first episode. True, I’ll admit that I am exactly the target audience for the show, and others might not take to it quite as much, but this is a strong set-up that builds interesting characters and realistically grim situations. I’m glad Underemployed isn’t too depressing, and I’m sure things will soon be looking up for the characters. I’m looking forward to seeing more and that, surely, is the aim of a pilot episode.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments.