There are only so many channels one can flip through before getting tired of the same old shows. Thankfully, students can now turn to a fresh alternative with the scripted documentary, or “mockumentary,” web-based series “Dorm Life.”
Created by UCLA students in conjunction with Attention Span Media, “Dorm Life” tells the fictional story of college freshmen inhabiting the “5-South” residential hall as they adjust to life on campus. The story is told through the students, who are filmed both on webcams and by a documentary camera crew.
In its second season, the show consists of weekly episodes that feature the characters’ escapades as they engage in prank wars, chase after the elusive “Mystery Hot Girl” and even discover the horror of college finals.
The show has a quirky sense of humor based on eccentric characters and the occasional witty pun. Slightly wacky and original characters add a unique flavor, whether it is the fiercely competitive jock and floor RA Marshall Adams I (Brian Singleton), or party animal Gopher Reed (Jim Brandon), who is strangely obsessed with his eternally silent and extremely religious floor mate Abigail (Anne Lane). Comparisons to “The Office” would not be amiss, although “Dorm Life” sports a more diverse array of characters.
Initially, “Dorm Life” seems to fall into the trap of emphasizing one pair of star-crossed lovers—in this case, floor mates Mike Sanders (Chris Smith) and Brittany Wilcox (Hannah Pearl Utt). However, the case of overemphasis quickly proves to be otherwise; Mike pines after Brittany in one of many subplots. Thankfully, said subplots all receive, for the most part, equal screen time.
The show features Zach Morris (MVHS ’06), who plays drama-geek-turned-documentarian Josh Morgan. Zack was asked by friends Smith and Jack DeSena (who plays Gopher’s roommate Shane) to audition for the show.
“I initially auditioned for the part of Gopher,” Zach said. “That got me a callback for Josh, [who at that time] was simply an awkward roommate who recited and acted out these generally weird things [like] making dolls out of hangers and strangling chickens in the closet. I didn’t feel any of the characters matched my inner-aesthetic, so I invented a character to audition with, Mario Van Franz, an overbearingly serious German exchange student on a drama scholarship who would occasionally break from intensity to perform show tunes and ogle [at] Zac Efron. …They asked me to combine Mario with Josh to create Josh Morgan, and there it was.”
Another benefit to the show is its brevity. The fact that each episode is under 10 minutes means that even students with the most hectic schedules can take a few minutes to enjoy the show.
Those interested can watch all of the show’s episodes (along with special feature “webcams”) online at Dorm-Life.com, YouTube.com/thisisdormlife, or Hulu.com. New season two episodes premiere on Mondays.