Unlike high school, the college experience has always been rather difficult for television shows and movies to capture without everything turning into an alcohol-soaked cliché. But the ABC Family (now Freeform) dramedy Greek, which ran from 2007 until 2011 and followed the ups and downs of various fraternity and sorority members at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University, was one of the few shows to get it right.
Starring Spencer Grammer and Jacob Zachar as siblings Casey and Rusty Cartwright, the series tested the bonds of the Cartwrights' growing relationship as well as the bonds that are created by their participation in the show's Greek system. Eight years after the conclusion of the show, which helped turn the network's scripted programming slate into what it is today, series creator Patrick Sean Smith, executive producers Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan, and cast members Grammer, Zachar, Amber Stevens West, Zack Lively, and Tiffany Dupont reunited at the ATX Television Festival on Friday to reminisce about the show, tell their audition stories, and share whether there's any hope for a revival.
Here are 10 things we learned during the panel.
1. Patrick Sean Smith was inspired to write the show by his own time at UT Austin. While working in the admissions office, Smith met a lot of people in the Greek system who he thought were cool, so when he moved to Los Angeles to work in television, he chose to write a sample script that was set in the Greek system. "I wanted to do something that was not just taking the Greek system down but playing with it, having fun with it, being able to look at the politics and relationships," he said, explaining that he also initially thought the show was going to be targeted more to an HBO audience. "I thought I was so edgy. It was insane."
2. There was almost a world in which Scott Michael Foster didn't play Cappie. Greek's greatest gift to popular culture was, without a doubt, Scott Michael Foster's Kappa Tau Gamma slacker president Cappie, but the producers actually initially wanted Foster for the role of the gay jock Calvin, who was eventually played by Paul James. Man, what a different show that would have been.
3. Most of the cast read for other parts actually. Jake McDorman, who went on to play wealthy Omega Chi brother Evan Chambers, initially auditioned for the role of Cappie while eating a bowl of cereal, which feels like a Cappie move, to be honest. Meanwhile, Clark Duke and Zachar were both eyed by the producers to play Dale, Rusty's uber-religious roommate. But when they couldn't find their Rusty - both Rusty and Casey proved difficult to cast — Zachar was cast in the role. Nora Kirkpatrick also read for the role of Frannie early on, but when she didn't get the role - it went to Tiffany Dupont — they kept her in mind and offered her the role of eventual fan favorite character Katherine.
4. Tiffany Dupont based her audition for Frannie on a girl she knew from college. After auditioning for the role of Casey, the producers asked Dupont to come back and read for the role of Frannie, a character she didn't really want to play. "At the time I was like, 'I don't want to play a mean girl! No, I don't want to do it!'" she explained. "So, I was very responsible and I did not practice my lines before I went in. I was on my way to my car ... and I learned them literally in my car on the way there. ... I remember being loud and I thought over the top and very obnoxious ... and cut to Frannie." Dupont added that the mannerisms and character of Frannie came to her so easily in part because she based Frannie off of a girl she knew from the Greek system in college.
5. Zack Lively showed up two-and-a-half hours late to his audition because his golf game was going really well. And he still booked the role of Heath! He really owes his rep who called and forced him to go to the audition an Edible Arrangements or something.
6. Jacob Zachar actually spit on Jake McDorman's face when they were rehearsing the scene in the pilot. One of the final moments of the Greek pilot featured Rusty, who had already earned his nickname Spitter, spitting tequila all over his new nemesis Evan's face. When they were rehearsing the scene, Zachar got confused and shocked his co-star by actually spitting on his face. "I thought we were rolling for real. And I did it for real," joked Zachar. Whoops.
7. The Evan and Rebecca hookup in the pilot was originally a three-way with another dude. Smith was really pushing for the hookup to be a three-way, but when ABC Family wasn't so sure they came to the compromise to film the scene both ways. "When we were shooting it, we were setting up for the scene and I get pulled outside ... and I had to pick the third [guy]!" said Smith, recalling the filming of the scene, which ended up on the cutting room floor. "Why did I pick out naked men?" he laughed.
8. Lively thinks Heath and Calvin are still together. When asked about where they think their characters are now, Lively said, "Heath and Calvin have about three kids and we're super successful. And it's just right. It always felt right." Meanwhile, Zachar joked that Amber Stevens West's Ashleigh and Rusty are still together and she probably yells at customer service reps for him. Lastly, Grammer said she thinks Casey is still with Cappie, but she wonders where they are and whether they have kids - or whether she eventually changed her mind and ended up with Evan after all in a Graduate-like twist.
9. We finally know what the rumored movie would have been about. Although Freeform announced a Greek reunion movie a few years ago, it never panned out. But Smith revealed that a script had been written. "It was about Casey's role in politics," he said. "It was about her speaking up. It was about her getting active. It was about her not supporting a politician but her being a politician and making a difference and making a change. And I was really proud of that storyline. And I wish I could have seen Spencer knock it out of the park."
10. There could still be hope for a revival or movie too. There are many, many things that go into a show receiving a revival or a movie, revealed the producers, and one of those things is proof that the fan base is still out there. But as Zachar noted, the story also has to make sense. So, maybe if fans prove they still care enough about Greek and if the writers can come up with a story that makes sense to tell, maybe there's a chance...
Greek is streaming on Hulu and the Freeform app.