We gave it a B
When High School Reunion first aired on The WB in 2003, exec producer Mike Fleiss (The Bachelor) stocked a Hawaii resort with Chicago-area alums celebrating 10 years postgraduation. Now he’s resurrected the format for TV Land’s older, nostalgic audience, assembling a Dallas suburb’s class of ’87 celebrating their 20th reunion. People over 35 are usually the sacrificial lambs of reality TV, so it’s a shock to find an entire show packed with bald spots, potbellies, and high divorce stats.
The template is the same: The villa is packed with archetypes like Rob ”The Stud,” Lana ”The Drama Queen,” and Jason ”The Bully.” The producers nearly get hernias forcing post-high-school-fantasy story lines, like having Justin ”The Pipsqueak” flirt with four-time divorcée DeAnna ”The Popular Girl,” and making sure he says some variation of ”I never would have had a chance with her in high school!” every three minutes.
But the usual reality TV tropes get far more interesting when put on people who have life experience beyond being a bartender/model. ”Jock” Matt can’t be the life of the party, because he’s still devastated by his wife’s recent death. And when ”Rebel” Mike’s ex-wife shows up, his tamped-down bitterness is the polar opposite of a Big Brother freak-out. How odd to see a reality show that occasionally reflects adult reality. B