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Thursday, June 30, 2011

State of Georgia not in a good state

     ABC Family's State of Georgia premiered last night. In the episode, Georgia (Raven-Symoné, That's So Raven) tries to audition for a role on stage. The casting director isn't impressed, telling her she's too fat, her talent isn't any better than anyone else's, and she's never be believable as a seductress. Georgia sulks briefly, then, encouraged by her Aunt Honey (Loretta Devine, Eli Stone, Grey's Anatomy) and best friend, Jo (Majandra Delfino, Roswell), Georgia returns to seduce the director and prove him wrong. She succeeds, without actually going through with anything sexual or losing her dignity.

     It's hard to keep an open mind about any Raven-Symoné vehicle. Despite being the cutest kid ever on The Cosby Show, since then her career has been overacting in ridiculous, unwatchable ways. She's popular with kids, but anyone who reaches teenager levels of age would have a hard time stomaching her. Yet, State of Georgia may be a transitional show into actual adult acting. Much of her character is overly dramatic, and she quickly falls back into the "too much" she learned as a child actor. But there are glimpses, especially as she deals with the casting director, whose character is as dreadful as the acting behind it, where Raven-Symoné actually shines through as a decent actress and singer.

     The demographic for this series is likely tweens and up, who were fans of Raven-Symoné before. In that regard, State of Georgia should do just fine. By making the lead less obnoxious, but not completely forgetting her previous work, there's a certain balance that might help usher maturity into fans and star alike. If these people, by and large girls, tune in, the series has a shot. Anyone else, please avoid, as it's not worth the effort.

     Speaking from the perspective not in Raven-Symoné's demographic, the series is borderline horrendous, and certainly not worth the time. Fluffier and less realistic than its lead-in, Melissa & Joey, which is pretty fluffy and unrealistic itself, State of George does not have any hallmarks of a series that will be anything special or win any awards. It's even less well made than pretty much any other ABC Family series, which is certainly not a top tier cable network. Which is too bad, because once Raven-Symoné shows she does have some talent hidden away, one wishes she would get more of a chance to use it.

     The supporting players are also well cast. Delfino shows range and the ability to do comedy, including physical comedy. She over blows some scenes, but likely because she was instructed to. She's still fun to watch, even then, though it's too bad her character is reduced to a bunch of bad hair jokes. Devine, of course, is amazing, and she is only being wasted on a series like this. Given crappy dialogue and nothing to play off of, she withers. Hopefully, she will be allowed to do other projects at the same time, so she doesn't forget what it's like to do something worthwhile.

     State of Georgia airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

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