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Series / USA High

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Rocking at Bays— I mean USA High.

Say, who else remembers that Peter Engel sitcom from the 90s? The one with the group of six high school students who get up to all sorts of hijinx. Their favourite hangout is a local diner. Characters include the African-American rich girl with a heart of gold, the dateless comic relief and of course the blond California dude - who has some on again-off again romantic tension with an attractive brunette.

Saved by the Bell? Who said anything about that?

USA High was a sitcom spawned by Engel in the late 1990s, clearly inspired by the success of SBTB. It revolves around a boarding school in a very Americanised district of Paris, France (to the degree that the characters seem to pay for everything with dollars). The principal cast include:

  • Jackson Greene - blond surfer dude from California and the newest student at the Academy. He's there to shake things up a little and come up with Zack Morris-esque zany schemes.
  • Lauren Fontaine - the object of Jackson's affections. She's essentially Jessie meets Kelly - being the closest thing the group has to a responsible one, but at the same time not being a Soapbox Sadie like Jessie was.
  • Bobby Lazzarini - the Plucky Comic Relief of the group and a Token Minority of some sorts, being a dark-skinned Italian American. A Running Gag is his crush on one of the teachers.
  • Winnie Barnes - the Lisa Turtle Expy, with the only difference being the lack of an Unwanted Harem. She's also a lot more physically aggressive than Lisa.
  • Christian Mueller - the hunky jock who uniquely is German and therefore one of only two actual Europeans in the main cast. He and Winnie are the Beta Couple.
  • Ashley Elliot - the headmaster's daughter, kind and sweet to everyone. She's also very British. Along with Lazz, the only character that isn't a SBTB Expy.
  • Mr Elliot - the headmaster, who splits his time between putting everyone on restriction and pining after...
  • Ms Dupree - the resident sexy French teacher and frequent target of attraction from the male students.

The show was successful enough on the USA Network to last two seasons (and outlasted the network's cartoons, to boot) - and enjoyed a slight surge in popularity when rerun on foreign feeds of Nickelodeon in the early 00s.

Tropin' at USA High:

  • Aesop Amnesia: Subverted in "Beauty & the Biker" where it looks like Ashley forgot the Aesop of "Odd Couple". However she realises that, despite her and Steel coming from different backgrounds, they do have rather a lot in common.
  • Allegedly Dateless:
    • Lazz is supposed to be a loser who never gets girls. He actually has several one-shot girlfriends and dates throughout the show. Some of them were just using him, but others were genuinely interested in him and just disappear the next episode. A girl even picked him over Jackson.
    • There are several episodes where Ashley is unlucky in love and struggles to find a date. Despite this, she's usually described as pretty (or even beautiful) and she does have many guys attracted to her in different episodes.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Used as a plot point where Miss Dupree lets on that she finds bad boys attractive. Cue Mr Elliot trying to act like one. Subverted in "Beauty & the Biker" when Ashley only shows interest in Steel after there's a Geeky Turn-On.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Mr Elliot and Miss Dupree. Depending on the Writer it sometimes seems one sided. They eventually get married.
  • Better as Friends: Jackson and Ashley in one episode. They hook up, get on great but then realise they have nothing in common.
  • Big Applesauce: Lazz is from Brooklyn.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Due to this, Christian and Winnie's costumes for a dance are mixed up. Instead of "bridal dress" (Winnie was attempting to get a replica of Princess Diana's wedding dress), she got "Frankfurters".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The finale has the gang graduating from the academy and realising that they'll all have to go their separate ways. Retroactively an earlier episode showed them meeting up at a reunion - obviously not having seen each other for several years. Additionally the Season 1 finale had Lazz leaving the school for real.
  • Beta Couple: Winnie and Christian.
  • Brainless Beauty:
    • Jackson has an Unwanted Harem of them in one episode. Put it this way; they're gotten rid of by being told he was last seen on the fourth floor. And the school has no fourth floor.
    • Christian is a male example, merging this with Dumb Muscle and Dumb Jock.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lazz has a tendency to get girls using him for their ulterior motives.
  • The Casanova: Jackson gets a lot of girls.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Lazz tries to get a lot of girls.
  • Catchphrase: Mr Elliott's "You're all on restriction". He even parodies it in a Distant Finale.
  • Celebrity Paradox: As seen in Company Cross References, Ashley references Saved by the Bell in the early episode "The Model". Two later episodes feature Mario Lopez (Slater in Saved By The Bell) as a new coach named Raphael.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ashley to the degree that she sent a jello mould of her head to the Queen of England.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Ashley plays with this one. She's the headmaster's daughter but is frequently in trouble. But her father is Not So Above It All.
  • Company Cross References: The episode "The Model" has a Shout-Out to another Peter Engel sitcom:
    Jackson: I'm from California, I know a lot of celebrities.
    Ashley: Really? Do you know Screech from Saved by the Bell?
  • Cool Teacher: Miss Dupree, as the girls frequently go to her for help.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: Despite the French setting (and numerous French recurring characters) the whole area seems very Americanised. The district in particular seems to be The Theme Park Version of California.
  • Distant Finale: Oddly enough as the first season finale - showing the gang reuniting at the academy after several years. Winnie and Christian are now married and work as self-help author and therapist respectively. Lazz is a meat marketing mogul, Ashley is a TV executive, Lauren owns Cafe USA and Jackson is a successful musician. It also doubles as a Clip Show. The actual finale isn't this though.
  • The Ditz: Out of the main characters, Christian and Ashley, especially the latter who's always prone to Comically Missing the Point.
  • Dreadful Musician: An episode has the gang trying to cover for Lauren having an awful singing voice. In a variation on the usual theme, Lauren is upset she listened to the recording to realize "I stink!" She just wishes the guys had been more honest about it.
  • Dumb Blonde: Ashley isn't the brightest bulb.
  • Dumb Jock: Christian isn't the brightest bulb. And he's a basketball player.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Miss Dupree had a very thick French accent in early episodes. After a while the actress instead spoke with just a hint of an accent.
  • Expy: Most of them are expies from Saved by the Bell.
    • Jackson is a blonde troublemaker and casanova like Zack Morris.
    • Christian is a Lovable Jock like Slater.
    • Winnie is a more aggressive and masculine Lisa Turtle.
    • Lauren is this to both Kelly and Jessie, being both the popular Dude Magnet and the intellectual, ambitious Go-Getter Girl.
    • Unlike the others, Ashley is not a SBTB Expy. She is however a British Phoebe Buffay in almost every way.
  • Flanderization: As time went on, Winnie's Sassy Black Woman aspects got exaggerated to the point that she became a caricature. Even more glaring when you see Marquita Terry's more subdued performance on a later Peter Engel sitcom, Malibu, CA, where her character displays none of these characteristics.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: Including Miss Dupree in the mix we have - the pretty Dude Magnet (Lauren), the aggressive, sassy Deadpan Snarker (Winnie), the childish one (Ashley) and the Team Mom (Miss Dupree).
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ashley, to the degree where she rescues a chimpanzee in one episode and tries to hide it from her father.
  • Friendship Moment: All the time but notably at the end of "Buddies":
    Lazz: I should have known that a girl like Tina would never be interested in me.
    Christian: A girl like Tina isn't good enough for a guy like you.
  • Funny Foreigner: Downplayed, even if the show is set in Paris, most characters are American. However:
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The main cast has six students, three girls and three boys. There's also a recurring male and female teacher to balance it out.
  • Girl's Night Out Episode: Of a sort. The girls trick the guys into going camping so they can have a night in.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Ashley is blonde and therefore kind and considerate.
  • Hilarity Ensues: For most of the gang's schemes.
  • Hot Teacher: Miss Dupree. Mr. Elliot is eternally in love with her. The students fancy her too, especially Lazz.
  • Hypocritical Humour: The librarian scolds Jackson for making noise in the library - right before she plugs in a vacuum.
  • I Am Very British: Ashley and her father speak with very posh RP accents. Ditto for the teacher and his family in the Stab the Salad episode below.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: On "Fraulein Winnie," Ashley has taught herself the German for "My uncle's monkey is very sick," since Christian's parents are visiting. At one point, the gang runs out of the room, in front of the parents, with no explanation, leading to...
    ASHLEY: "Der Affe meines Onkels ist sehr krank.", and the translation coming up as a subtitle.
  • Improbable Age: The students are supposed to be teenagers (definitely under 18 anyway) and yet are shown having co-ed dorms. France's prestigious academies must be quite liberal. In fairness to the last one, the boys and girls sleep in separate rooms - which could be monitored by teachers. Does raise a few eyebrows as to what parents would be comfortable with that arrangement.
  • Last-Name Basis: Lazz's mother is the only one who refers to him as Bobby.
  • Local Hangout: The Max...I mean Cafe USA.
  • Man Hug: Those guys are always hugging.
  • Missing Mom: Ashley's mother is never mentioned.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Christian is a German muscleman who frequently appears shirtless.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lauren is the glamorous leggy brunette, whose actress Elena Lyons made it onto Maxim's Hot 100 List in 2005.
  • Negative Continuity: If a character gets a love interest for an episode, don't expect to see them again even if they're together at the end. Otherwise averted with Lauren's recurring boyfriend Wallace and Lazz's permanent departure from the school.
  • Never Win the Lottery: The episode "Lottery Fever" is built on this trope. In this case, everyone who contributes to the lottery scheme actually believes that they've won the lottery initially, before realizing late in the episode that they were mistaken after a closer look at the "winning" ticket in question.
  • Not So Above It All: Lazz falls out of a window watching Ms Dupree changing and sues the school for the injury suffered. At the end of the episode Mr Elliot falls out the window for the same reason.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • Ashley and Lazz are eventually revealed to have been in love - but the trope gets subverted when Lazz goes back to Brooklyn to live with his family.
    • This trope becomes inverted as of a Distant Finale (that wasn't actually the finale). Winnie and Christian, and Ashley and Lazz are now married. However the Alpha Couple ends on a Maybe Ever After situation.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: A non-period example. Despite the French setting, the majority of the cast are Americans, they pay for everything with dollars and never seem to suffer any culture clash.
  • Put on a Bus: Lazz goes back to Brooklyn to spend some more time with his family.
  • Relative Error: See Stab the Salad below. They see the teacher with a much younger woman and assume they had an affair and killed the wife. The woman is their daughter.
  • Romantic False Lead: Wallace is this for Lauren. Parodied in another episode where Christian makes up a girl called Monique to make Winnie jealous, and she does the same with a guy called Gunther.
  • Series Fauxnale: An episode showing the gang meeting up at a reunion years in the future. It's in the first season and it's only the penultimate episode of that one.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Winnie - black, feisty and hugely aggressive.
  • Sickeningly Sweet: Winnie's talk show, where she has her friends as guests. The air time is filled with sappy revelations about why they are the best of friends, prompting a reaction of disgust from the studio audience.
  • Slip into Something More Comfortable: Miss Dupree says this when she invites Mr Elliot over. Of course the something more comfortable is overalls - since she wanted help with painting her walls.
  • Slut-Shaming: Used in one episode. Winnie has a date with a prince and plans to wear a sexy short dress. The rest of the gang try to persuade her to wear something more modest. The Prince prefers the short dress instead.
  • Stab the Salad: One episode has a teacher and his wife arguing and she then disappears. When they overhear him speaking about a death, they report it to Mr Elliot. The wife has just been away on tour with the theatre, their argument was her rehearsing a scene and the death was her pet goldfish.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Excess is one for Lazz in the second season, being similarly eccentric and excessive.
  • Town Girls: Sassy Black Woman Winnie is Butch, ditzy and innocent Ashley is Femme and Go-Getter Girl Lauren is Neither.
  • Two-Teacher School: Miss Dupree appears to teach rather a lot of subjects from the amount of classes the gang are seen having with her.
  • Two-Timer Date:
    • Jackson finds himself with one. His father has arranged for him to take the daughter of one of his associates to a High-School Dance. Meanwhile Lauren has been playing hard to get and panics about Jackson not asking her, so she tells him they're going together. In Jackson's defence he did try to break it off with the other girl. The fun starts when it turns out the dance is a costume ball and both girls get nominated for Best Costume.
    • Subverted in another episode with a Sadie Hawkins Dance. Ashley gets addicted to asking several guys out to the same dance. She then appears at the dance with all six of them - and they each take turns dancing with her.
    • In the same episode Lauren ends up with this too. Wallace is initially going with her to the dance but is called away for the weekend, so she asks Lazz to go as friends. When it turns out Wallace can make it afterall, Lauren opts to bring Lazz. The Reveal however is that Lazz called Wallace and persuaded him to come.
  • The Unfair Sex: Mostly averted. The girls will be called out for any bad behaviour in a relationship, as will the boys.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Lazz falls down the mail chute. Miss Dupree pops a letter in and says hello to him without batting an eyelid.
  • Very Special Episode: Subverted in one episode where Jackson dates a blind girl. He frets about the budding relationship - because he's scared of commitment in general. But the girl herself assumes it's because of her blindness and breaks it off with him. The aesop is about Jackson learning to commit. The girl's blindness is kind of just incidental.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Christian, who's even shirtless in the opening credits.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jackson and Lauren in spades. Winnie and Christian to an extent as well, but they get and stay together pretty quickly. Lazz and Ashley are an aversion too, as the episode that reveals they do have feelings for each other does so immediately and they get together quickly. Mr Elliot and Miss Dupree of sorts as well. As of Season 2, they are together.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Ashley is shocked when she overhears an argument between a teacher and his wife, especially the part where he calls her a witch.
  • Women Are Wiser: Miss Dupree in comparison to Mr Elliott. The rest of the girls blur this. While they take part in slapstick too, they're more likely to take the responsible route or the moral high ground compared to the boys.