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FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH DRIES UP WB TEEN SERIES WITHOUT A CAUSE.

``Young Americans'' begins the way too many WB series begin: The camera pans through some scenic vistas further romanticized by some sensitive strumming of an acoustic guitar and the simpering of another forgettable singer-songwriter. Characters living in this bucolic Utopia soon randomly blather about how from this moment on, they have nothing but boundless hope for the future, doggerel that somehow seems rather more elegiac than sincerely anticipative, coming, as it does, from the word processor of a writer long past his protagonists' age.

Eventually, there are pop-culture references and/or, if the writer is particularly pretentious, mentions of people for whom the show's target audience has absolutely no appreciation (in ``YA's'' case, William Faulkner and Thomas Hobbes). Oh, and don't forget the relentless flirting between characters who all look like they're models for magazines like Seventeen or Details and the inevitable scene in which these kids frolicking in as close to the altogether as network TV will allow (which occurs less than seven minutes into ``YA's'' premiere).

In other words, ``Young Americans'' is slick, empty, shamelessly pandering and virtually unwatchable for non-teens; most savvy teens will laugh it off, as well. It takes place at an exclusive New England academy where one scruffy but handsome underprivileged local (Rodney Scott) is, thanks to an ill-gotten scholarship, rooming with a self-satisfied cutie from the lap of luxury (Mark Famiglietti); they're so interchangeable they spend most of their time trying to keep straight which is which.

There's the casually gorgeous townie (Kate Bosworth) for whom both studs hold a torch, the usual bunch of good-looking-but-not-quite-as-hot-as-the-leLine is overdrawn ads, hyper-articulate supporting players, playing blandly edgy rebels without a clause in their standard network contracts, as well as the ruggedly dreamy rowing coach and the lousy father. Most bewildering of all is the who's-fooling-who cross-dresser (Katherine Moennig), posing as a boy because - why, exactly? It's a coed school; she could get in regardless. Oh, well, at least it's a titillating surprise, ostensibly, when she takes off her clothes and relaxes alone in her bra and panties.

Even the hokiest of these fantasy series about gorgeous high-schoolers living and loving in ornate playpens has to have a toehold on reality. But ``Young Americans'' (based on this cast, ``Young Aryans'' would be a more honest title) blunders on, scene after scene, without hitting upon a credible emotional moment. This show makes the reality shows look realistic.

The facts

--The show: ``Young Americans.''

--What: Summer replacement series set at an exclusive New England academy.

--The stars: Rodney Scott, Mark Famiglietti, Kate Bosworth, Katherine Moennig, Ian Somerhalder.

--Where: The WB (Channel 5).

--When: 9 p.m. Wednesdays.

--Our rating: One star.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Back row, Rodney Scott, left, Katherine Moennig, Mark Famiglietti and Kate Bosworth, and Ian Somerhalder, front, co-star as spoiled ``Young Americans.''
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Jul 12, 2000
Words:468
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