A show produced by Judd Apatow
fresh off the critically acclaimed but ratings deprived/executive meddled Freaks and Geeks
. This show was about equally successful with only 17 episodes and equal amounts of Executive Meddling
, but was similarly on Time magazine's "Top 10 New Shows." The show was produced in autumn 2000, but didn't air until autumn 2001.
Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel) is a brand-new freshman at North East California University who is excited with his chance to escape his geek
status from high school. The title comes from Steven having an "Undeclared"
major. Despite feeling overwhelmed by being out on his own for the first time and with roommates who are slightly aloof to him, he trudges forward in an attempt to be less awkward then he really is. One of the bright spots of Steven's first day was striking a friendship with a girl in the dorm across the hall
, Lizzie (Carla Gallo). During the first party of the year, his dad shows up and with news that he is getting divorced from his Mom. Steven tries to be his Dad's friend but it ends up overwhelming him and he spends time in his room alone crying.
Lizzie accidentally stumbles into his room and tries to console him and herself, the reason being that her long-distance boyfriend Eric can go from affectionate and loving one minute and then yelling and dumping her the next minute, only to apologize the next day and start the pattern all over again (A male version of a Tsundere
). Lizzie, tired of it all, proposes sex with Steven to help them acclimate to the college experience.
The next day Lizzie is surprised and a little ashamed at what she did, expecially when Eric calls and apologizes. Steven, on the other hand, can't get her out of his mind and feels that she is his future girlfriend. And this is all on the first episode.
Subsequent episodes elaborate more on Steven's roommates and Lizzie's roommate Rachel (Monica Keena
). While Steven has not quite shed his geek image, his roommates warm up to him. Lloyd (Charlie Hunnam) is a Theatre Major from England and shares the same bedroom with Steven. He is quite popular with the ladies and becomes a sort of mentor to Steven. Ron (Seth Rogen
) is a Business Major and for the most part the more sensible one of the group, though he has his own issues with girls and dating. Marshall (Timm Sharp) is a Music Major with a big crush on Rachel and who could be slightly neurotic, trying to pick up on Lloyd's mannerisms.
Steven and Lizzie are the main characters and the entire show is mostly about him trying to get the girl and then keep her. Steven becomes cooler and more confident in himself. He and his roommates grow into a close-knit, protective circle
— defending themselves against other groups at the college. An especially troublesome group is the Fraternity that Steven earns the ire of. Rachel is trying to find her own identity and slowly finds herself becoming a bit of a party girl. Steven's recently divorced dad Hal (Loudon Wainwright III) becomes close friends with his roommates.
The show did not use a laugh track and relied heavily on improvisation from the actors. The characters' personalities were actually based on the actors; the first episode was not written until the actors were cast. The series strove to be as true to the college experience as possible on network television; parties, sex and drugs are alluded to but are not explicit. Judd Apatow
said that he didn't intend for the show to be as autobiographical as it became. Seth Rogen was one of the writers, which made no end of jokes on his behalf when he wrote the episode where his character makes out with a Love Interest
The actor playing Lizzie's boyfriend Eric, Jason Segel, was actually the one Apatow wanted to play Steven, but the network wanted more of an underdog or everyman
for the role. (Opinions may vary but part of Baruchel's appeal in the show was that he subverted the male Hollywood Homely
type, something Segal would not have done.) As a result, Eric made an appearance in nearly every episode, either on the phone or in person as a sort of Take That
to the network. By coincidence the last episode focused more on Eric than the other characters.
Undeclared provides examples of...