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The first off-putting parts of “Exclusion Suite,” the new campus soap opera, are the silences. The opening dialogue aspires to that cute, pause-filled pace that was charmingly offbeat before Aaron Sorkin pounded it into every episode of every show he ever wrote. But the tentative, plucky background music falls out of rhythm with the lines – oh, and the lines are terrible.

This, for example, is the reunion of Natalie (Alex Kudroff) and Brooke (Alice Hu), roommates and best friends, on move-in day:

Natalie: Oh my god! I missed you!

Brooke: It seems like you were doing all right without me. Did you have a drink for me last night?

Natalie: Um, more than one.

Brooke: Aw, you’re the best friend a girl could want.

Perhaps this is a narrowminded attack – no soap opera has great dialogue. Similarly, it seems purposeless to attack a campus production for inane music and poor lighting. And it is necessary to commend “Exclusion Suite” for its one successful moment (and its excellent title). An otherwise infernal flirtation scene between Brooke and Greg (Joe Cummings) is made delightful by its soundtrack: the sappiest of sappy soundtracks and – yes – Natalie vomiting in the bathroom stall next to them:

Brooke: What’s the phrase? Single and ready to mingle? [barf]

Would that all the lines were followed by the sound of someone throwing up – though it is a little too suggestive for the unentertained viewer.

The strongest scene in the show succeeds because it so triumphantly undermines its attempts at sexiness. The episode drags because the other attempts at sexiness are merely undermined by their own unsexiness. When Rob (PJ Berg) gets in a bar fight, the extreme slow motion shot only emphasizes the poor job of faking the punch. And his braggart “welcome to the EC, bitch!” falls flat. When Rob trips over Simon (Michael Galante) and the two end up entangled on the floor, the staging of the fall is more awkward than the girls walking in on them. And then there’s the clothing. Brooke, the feistier of the two female protagonists, appears to be wearing only a shirt and sandals in her first scene, and the effect is more appalling than appealing. Later she dons one of those hats that look like a knit shower cap. Natalie sports a skunk streak in her hair. Two of the three boys (who are incessantly referred to as “the boys) opt for crinkly oxford shirttails protruding beneath sweaters. While Brooke’s wardrobe shoots for sexy and misses, the boys’ never tries. It’s merely Columbia realism. And no soap opera – especially at Columbia – should be realistic.


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  1. not true!  

    wow, bwog, that was really harsh. i loved the show! hopefully the next episode will come out soon; i can't wait!

  2. Listen,  

    The first time I saw "Exclusion Suite,” I was shocked to find myself tearing up at the end, since I’d spent the first 15 minutes or so gnashing my teeth and checking my watch. The passive-aggressive pseudo-folk songs, the self-consciously clever dialogue, the generic, instantly mockable suburban setting — if your chest contains a beating heart, you'll love this wonderfully inventive soap.

  3. bwog  

    sucks. Exclusion Suite is awesome!!
    -Anxiously awaiting episode 2

  4. How It Is  

    Was the show super-duper amazing? No, but it was enjoyable.

    What heartbreaking malady has befallen the BWOG writers? Why is every post full of hatred and malice? Hating everything hasn't been cool since high school. Get it over it.

    As a matter of fact, when is the last time BWOG has hated on something that the majority of Columbia students haven't liked? Just as important, what has BWOG complimented, short of our darling hawk, that hasn't been boring as hell?

  5. haha WELL SAID  

    It's a soap opera! And it embraces all the cheesy aspects of one. I like it - somehow it makes relevant those funny moments that you thought were just inside Columbia jokes. I wait three weeks before accepting a friend request...any sooner is just painful. Genius!

  6. man  

    whatever. the dialogue was bad, the story was boring, everything was generic, and nothing seemed real. these are qualities of a bad show and the genre doesn't matter. seriously reviewing it might not have been necessary but you don't gotta jump all over the reviewer just because you liked this.

  7. bleh  

    I actually found it...horrifying. Yup, that's the word.

  8. love it  

    PJ is my hero.

  9. yeah  

    not nearly as bad as bwog said, but clearly written by nerds for nerds. there were definitely funny moments, but this show is mired in the same bullshit it tries to illuminate or mock. if it was a really good show, it would stand above its subject matter, not further it, but whatever, i'll watch episode two.

  10. alum

    show was clever. well written, well acted. i don't remember the gates that well, but it was so so. this is quite good. i'm ready for more.

    bwog, stop being a total bitch.

  11. Hmmm  

    I actually laughed at some of the lines, which I didn't expect. I mean, it is a soap opera. You expect spectacular dialogue and expert staging?
    It was good!

  12. f.d.

    this review was ridiculously harsh and undeserved. ugh.

    i actually can't wait for the next episode.

  13. i thought  

    exclusion suite was pretty good--for a campus production. and a million times better than the gates. its an ambitious soap opera, tries with the music at least, typecasts it characters, and while the dialogue is trite/forced... there are like three moments that get you. theres a lot of potential and im looking forward to it

    bwog, shame on you for being so snarky. ec was more deserving that thanr

  14. senior  

    i think that we should be more supportive of members of our campus community. its one thing to cast a critical eye, but its another to be bitchy about everything. your friends and classmates worked really hard on this and there is nothing to gain by being mean. im sorry, but when bwog first started, it was fun. it mocked the mainstream (spec, the administration) while inspiring a feeling of community that this school often lacks. i feel like bwog should aspire to be more than snark. also: i really liked exclusion suite.

  15. SEAS kid  

    Great sound effects, I thought the throwing up was really believable!

  16. i thought  

    Totally not true! I thought it was great. Yeah there are a few kinks, but its the first episode, give them a break. I thought the show was super fun and the guys had a great chemistry that you completely failed to pick up on. I totally support EC and will continue to watch. Bwog needs to stop being obsessed with being snarky and "clever" and start supporting your fellow students for making a creative and watchable show.

  17. impressed  

    that was pretty good. I'd watch another episode of this.

  18. relax  

    What the fuck, Bwog? Did Exclusion Suite kick your puppy or something?

  19. student  

    I agree that the bwog is being harsh, but there is some truth to what they are saying.

    and I really feel that the people who wrote the "I cried at the end" and "there are clever lines" are either unintellectual/dumb or People who worked on the production. I'm not saying Exclusion Suite is awful, it's just bad. But still, lets still support this and hope that the plot acting & shots get better.

  20. i mean cmon  

    this show is ridiculously fucking terrible. the acting is pathetic–yes, pathetic, that is not an overstatement. the plotline is absent. and the production lacks any creativity or skill whatsoever. Lets be honest; any of the positive remarks on here HAVE to be from people affiliated with the show. I found the gates corny but entertaining, the mark of a successful teen drama teleplay. this was just painfully boring and poorly done. bwog, ur write-up was generously sensitive if anything

  21. Bwog is just bitter  

    Did anyone honestly expect the Blue and White's blog NOT to be utter assholes in reviewing Exclusion Suite?

    • sure

      you either worked on this or work with someone who did because no one who wasn't told would expect anything of this. i didn't even know it existed.

      it was a decent effort and i would watch the next one but it takes itself so seriously that it's tough not to really want to knock it down a few pegs. comment 11 had it right, except i want to believe the people doing it aren't nerds or arrogant so much as trying really hard, which is much better.

      better to be honest and say "this is am ambitious project, some things aren't right yet but we're working to improve" than flood comments and get pretentious, if there are more episodes, go for it

  22. Yeah

    The best defense is to have a good show.

    I mean, come on: The lines were not "clever" in any way, the acting was not good, and nobody cried at the end of it.

    If you liked the show for reasons not related to it being good, say so.

  23. people  

    who worked on the show need to stop pretending it's something that it definitely isn't.

    the only reason to watch it is to accept that it is just campy / something to laugh at.

    that can be cool.

  24. pfft

    better than the gates. by oh so very very very much.

    "When Rob (PJ Berg) gets in a bar fight, the extreme slow motion shot only emphasizes the poor job of faking the punch."

    so true. I thought they were trying to dramatize how he missed at first, to rub in his absolute wussiness. woe is me to think they would be clever.

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