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Smart After School: An HBO Pilot Proposed to Judd Apatow

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In an email with some of my closest friends this previous week, we discussed some of our favorite television shows (specifically, the epic new season of House of Cards and Game of Thrones). But, amongst our conversation, screenwriting became a topic of interest as I just remembered that I actually wrote a script for -- what I thought would be -- an HBO pilot when I first turned 18 years old. I had totally forget about it and after showing it to my friends, they couldn't believe how omniscient it was of actual college life; the twists, turns and unexpected fortune that occurs during these four years. They thought it was "good," so I just thought I would put it here as a timestamped dream endeavor of mine for the somewhat distant future. So here it is, the excerpted and revised script that I wrote about life in college.

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Smart After School
Pilot: Episode 1

[loud, heavily-bassed music echoes down a hallway as the camera moves away from the sounds, choreographically weaving through a college dormitory hallway towards silence. The camera goes through a dark peephole as the audience hears a bed creaking in a college dorm room -- the camera from a high angle features two (ambiguous in the moment) having fun and laughing under covers]

Alex Smart (narration): Whoa! I never knew that college would be like this. I never knew that life would be like this. I mean, look at what I'm going through right now. It's not the first time that this has happened though.

[as camera pans to Alex in another bed -- gripping the covers as his eyes forcefully trying to plead for insomnia in the moment.]

Alex (continues narration): Oh and by the way, this is me. Sad, pathetic, and... and...

[the sound of the bed springs stop as the disruptive bandits leave. As the stream of light from the exiting door enters, Alex looks onto it. There's a hard close of the door as the roommate and his girlfriend run out playfully.]

Alex: Just... [camera switches to a graduation scene] a couple [camera pans closer to Alex sitting amongst the crowd, blinking back and forth between scenes]... more days [a loud screeching guitar riff from what seems to be a neighboring room enters the dormitory, causing Alex to cringe under the covers, camera then switches to a graduation scene where graduates toss their hats in the air]

Title card appears: "SMART AFTER SCHOOL" -- Artsy, colorful, and radical in its horizontally moving appearance.

[The next scene is in a restaurant, dull in color on a dismal day. Seems like a usually busy restaurant, but is cleared out during this weekday afternoon. Alex and his parents are sitting at a table staring at one another. The room is silent as one waitress walks around in a restaurant in Chinatown -- San Francisco. The atmosphere is starkly empty.]

[Mom begins to speak, but decides against it in the awkward atmosphere. Alex looks just as eager to speak, but annoyed by the circumstances of eating in a deserted restaurant.]

Dad: So how are your teachers? [genuinely intrigued]

Alex: Classes ended last week Dad. [mildly annoyed, said whilst turned sideways unengaged]

Dad: Oh. Well... you could've added them on Facebook. [shrugging it off]

Alex: Well, how are you and Mom doing? [turning towards them trying genuinely to change the ambiguous intention of the conversation to one of purpose]

Mom & Dad: Good. [decisively at the same time trying to move towards the destined topic of discussion]

Dad: Look Al, let's get to the point. We found your plane ticket for New York in your bags. When were you going to tell us of this plan to move so far away?

Alex: What were you guys even doing in... [switching from defensiveness to one of an appellate] It was just a decision that me and Connor made months ago. You guys know I've been wanting to move there all my life.

Mom: Yes, we know, but your father and I just think...

Dad: We just...[interrupting, deciding against what he is about to say] what we feel is that this your time. So go.

[Mom looks over at her husband feeling betrayed by his statement.]

Alex: [responding in a sort of comedic pseudo-emboldened front] Well, that's what I was saying. [returning to a serious, though corroborative tone] But hey, it's only for the summer. I'm just going out there to help Connor move into his Uncle's condo for film school and I've got an internship in the city as well.

[Mom looks half-disheartened, though emotionally proud of her son's newfound independence. Alex notices and moves his attention directly to her.]

Alex: Hey... [in a whimsically, sympathetic tone as if coddling his mom's emotions] it's only for the summer. I'll be back in the fall for Junior year.

[phone vibrates quelling the emotional tension in the vacant restaurant]

Alex: Look, I gotta meet up with Connor and the guys. We'll talk more about this tonight. [he slowly jogs out of the restaurant after giving his mom a kiss on the cheek and his dad a farewell]

[It's dusk now as Alex is driving and the camera blearily transitions amongst the San Francisco skyline as he drives through the city to his destination. The music in the background is an anthem-like theme -- think "City of Blinding Lights" By U2. As he arrives to his destination of a cliff overlooking the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, we see three blurred figures greet the car through the windshield.]

[The scene cuts to the four twenty-somethings laying, gazing over the sunset overlooking the bridge. We meet Connor Abrams who approaches Alex and lightly taps his shoulder with a cold soda can from the cooler, but Alex dismisses the gesture while in deep reflection.]

Connor Abrams: [Alex's best friend in high school and college who was able to get his degree in three years, thus finishing before Alex who has one more year] ... I still can't believe your roommate did that. [he continues with in a charismatic, conversationalist tone]

Alex: I know. I don't understand why it is that I get all the roommates who feel like it's necessary for me to experience the profession of their manhood. I mean, I was sleeping and... [takes a pause in frustration and decides to stop] But next year, I'll be living off campus.

[a burst of laughter from David and his girlfriend - the remaining friends on the cliffside- interrupts Alex's sentence]

Alex (confused to David): What?

David: It's just, how are you going to live off campus? Do you know how much it costs to live...

[Connor then cuts off David seeing Alex getting somewhat fatigued by anything David was about to say.]

Connor: Alex, it's going to be fine. We'll figure it all out when we're in New York. As long as you're not living with your parents and taking chances. This is your dream, right?...

[Connor's voice begins to fade as the camera blurs into a dim. Alex loses focus on Connor]

Connor [noticing that Alex is fading in his focus trying to regain attention]: Alex? Alex! You listening, bro?

[scene fades to the busy streets of the Avenue of Americas where Alex and Connor are arriving in New York City]

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And that's all for this excerpt. Now while the concept is a bit exhausted with the success of shows like New Girl, Entourage, and Girls, the show is a realistic look at four 20-something roommates who try to make something of themselves amongst their respective career paths. In the pilot, they eventually do make it to New York to move Connor into his Uncle's vacant condominium. Connor's uncle turns out to be a Hollywood mogul-type of the likes of Harvey Weinstein. He comes to be of a guidance figure in the first season as Connor finds success with his independent films during his time at an N.Y.C. film school. Alex Smart -- a sheltered, though privileged college student -- thinks he will someday becoming a writer though life has alternate plans for him.

When the summer does come to an end, Alex decides to transfer from his California school to a prestigious New York state university and stays with Connor in the condominium. After Connor's uncle finds out that he's no longer living alone, he starts charging them a fraction of rent for the principle and the two friends decide to get a new roommate because of it -- who ends up being privileged 22-year-old Ryan Kim, a stockbroker currently interning on Wall Street.

The cast rounds out with neighbors Taylor Crew and Will Carter. Taylor is dating Will Carter, an established, late-twenties Broadway actor who has a nice-guy complex. She's currently enrolled in university as well. We learn in future episodes that amongst Alex and Taylor's first meeting they have chemistry that tends to be troublesome as they'll share moments together. What happens next is somewhat unexpected.

While he series doesn't stay stagnant in New York like most (following Alex when he studies abroad in a foreign country for a season and to Los Angeles after he graduates from college), my friends seem to think if there was a male counter to Girls, this would certainly be it.

Tywan Wade is a sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Read more about him in Impossible Dreams: The Story of Discovering My Superpowers.