March 02, 2010 at 05:16 PM EST

If you like those backstory packages on American Idol, you’ll love the first episode of Idol producer Simon Fuller’s new web series, If I Can Dream, debuting today on Hulu. In it, we meet five young 20-somethings who’ll be living in a house together in Los Angeles and being taped for a half-hour weekly online reality show (and web-cammed 24/7 with live streaming at while they chase their starry-eyed dreams of acting, modeling, and singing in Hollywood.

The premiere acquaints us with our cast, four of whom have, throughout their suburban upbringings, faced various minor obstacles (single moms, immigrant Brazilian moms, rather small apartments in hipster areas of Brooklyn) on their way to becoming crazy-hot young adults who aspire to fame. The fifth cast member is Miley Cyrus’ ex, singer/songwriter Justin Gaston, which seems partly like a cheat — really, he’ll need help getting people to notice him? — and partly a very shrewd move, since he’s the only logical reason the cast finds themselves already paparazzi-stalked in the premiere. (Though props to the show, and to him, for at least admitting that up front and making his story about him overcoming his tabloid ties to be taken seriously. I was worried we’d have to spend this whole thing pretending we didn’t know who he was, but now we can spend it trying to figure out which of his songs he’s written about Hannah Montana instead.)

At any rate, things are off to a poky start as they all meet in New York for a publicity tour, on which we are forced to go with them. (What’s more boring than watching people answer PR questions on a radio show? Watching them answer PR questions on a radio show about a project we haven’t really seen yet.) And it looks like next week’s ep will require us to plod along on a foreign publicity tour before this series gets to the good stuff, watching pretty young things struggle with the very real challenges of making it in an industry designed to stop them from doing so. Here’s to hoping they get to that part sooner rather than later — and to hoping producers don’t give them too much “help” in making their dreams come true. This could be interesting if it sticks to the really, really real.

What do you think, PopWatchers? Will you watch Justin and company follow their dreams online?

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