American High Drama
isn't the only reality series vulnerable to controversy. A student from American High
relaunched on PBS last night after a brief four-episode run back in August on Fox is charging that the show "poorly portrayed" her as a clingy girlfriend whose life revolved around a guy. Now, High
's "principal," executive producer R.J. Cutler
, is responding to the flak.
In this week's TV Guide, 18-year-old High star Sarah who in the show's initial episodes was seen doting over beau Robby was quoted as saying she got "torn apart by the media" as a result of Cutler's depiction of her. (The couple have since graduated and broken up.)
"There's a tendency [for the press] to boil the kids down to labels," Cutler tells TV Guide Online. "Bad-boy Morgan, Jock-with-a-soul Robby, Dependent-girlfriend Sarah. And it was heartbreaking for her to be called [that].
"But Sarah is not portrayed as an overly-dependent girlfriend if you look at the whole body of the show," continues Cutler, who spent nine months tracking 14 students from Illinois's Highland Park High for the series. "She began the year very, very focused on her relationship with Robby, but over the course of the year, she discovers her own independence and grows out of that conflict in a way that makes her stronger. It's actually quite triumphant."
Yet, because Fox cancelled the low-rated yet critically hailed High before viewers and the media could witness Sarah's transformation, she got pigeonholed. Luckily, PBS came to the rescue, agreeing to air the 13-part series in its entirety (Wednesdays at 10 pm/ET). As a result, Cutler is confident that his disheartened subject will come around after she "sees herself portrayed in the full context of the series."
Still, one might question Sarah's post-High decision to attend the University of Colorado, the same school as her ex. "Everyone thinks I'm going there because of him," Sarah tells TV Guide Online. "But and you can print this I've always wanted to go there. I'm definitely not going there because of Robby... He's my best friend and will always be my friend."