Watch a few episodes of "Gossip Girl" or "Laguna Beach: The Real OC," and you'd think high school was all about sex at your parents' summer home, going to galas and getting wasted while looking like an Abercrombie and Fitch model, not the "Before" kid in a Clearasil ad.
"Red Hook High" may be the antidote to all that. Instead of stick-thin blondes toting $3,500 Hermes bags, there are black boys toting bags of drugs. Instead of postcard-perfect mansions and cityscapes, there are cramped apartments and construction zones.
Part drama, part documentary, "Red Hook High," a new pilot that premiered at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) this week, shows a high school experience few network and cable series touch on, one that unfolds in a gritty Brooklyn community among teens with the odds stacked against them. Forget prom queens and valedictorians. "Red Hook High's" stars include a budding drug dealer, an emerging gay crusader and a possibly pregnant teen.
"It's the opposite of 'Gossip Girl,'" said director Trac Minh Vu. "It's not a glossy Hollywood fashion show. There are probably people who actually live lives like what is portrayed on 'Gossip Girl' and 'The OC.' But they're fantasy shows. They're about showcasing high fashion and the small population of people who can live like that."
"But my own high school experience is not at all reflected in the current crop of teen dramas," he continued. "Part of this is trying to show that the teen experience is far wider than what's portrayed on TV, especially for kids of color."