1999–2000 Broadcast Premieres
Network television doesn't set trends, it exploits them. Following a wave of teenybopper pop (Hanson, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys) and a sea of teensploitation films (Cruel Intentions, Disturbing Behavior, American Pie), the big four has finally figured out the WB's dirty little secret: The pubescent demographic is where it's at. Consequently, fall 1999 brings more than a dozen new shows that either center around high-school angst or feature fresh young faces.
Conceiving these shows is the easy part. Finding young talent takes some work. Indeed, the networks had to look beyond these shores to fill their rosters. That doesn't bode well for mature actors, who now consider themselves washed up if they haven't landed a series or movie by — gasp — age 25.
Nevertheless, high-school dramas don't completely dominate the entire schedule, and the 1999–2000 season holds more promise than any other in recent memory. The pressure's on network television to churn out edgier, more intelligent shows, with cable continuing to threaten the network's hold on ratings. (HBO earned 74 Emmy nominations, second to NBC's 82.) The networks are also feeling the heat to add minority characters to their casts. Only two shows (UPN's Grown Ups and The Strip) star a person of color. Network suits have promised to remedy this disturbing trend.
Here's a look at the fall 1999 and spring 2000 new shows.