Picks and Pans Review: Young Americans

updated 07/17/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/2000 01:00AM

The WB (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

Young Americans is the kind of show that ties a critic's hands, so I'm typing under a handicap. The July 12 premiere contains revelations that appear important in determining the series' direction. If I give away the surprises, I may spoil the pilot for you. If I don't, you won't be properly warned that plausibility is not a priority for this teen drama.

Want hints? Look at Jake, the slender boy in the cap who motorcycles in for the summer term at New England's exclusive Rawley Academy and piques the interest of Hamilton (Ian Somerhalder), the dean's nonconformist son. Jake kisses Hamilton; Hamilton says, "Oh my God! I think I'm gay!" But note that Jake is portrayed by someone named Katherine Moennig. Three words: prep school Yentl.

Then there's Scout (Mark Fami-glietti), a Rawley richie who falls for beautiful Bella (Kate Bosworth), a working-class townie. But they discover a seemingly insuperable, and scarcely believable, obstacle to their love. Let's just say it ain't legal.

Local boy Will (Rodney Scott) is a scholarship student with relatively normal problems: cheated on entrance exam; torn between Rawley ambitions and town buddies. Will is a sympathetic character, but his cool faculty mentor (Ed Quinn) obviously spent too much time studying Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

Bottom Line: Noncredit summer course

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