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TV Series Review

How many hard-working, yet virtually anonymous young school teachers have dreamt of dating a movie star? And what of the movie star’s fantasy to date somebody normal. Ripping a page from the screenplay of Notting Hill, cultures collide on ABC’s I’m With Her, a surprisingly accessible romantic comedy that hit number three on Nielsen’s teen charts.

Patrick Owen (David Sutcliffe) is a Los Angeles high school teacher who falls in love with film goddess Alex Young (Teri Polo). She swoons in return, and the mismatched couple bumble happily through humorous courtship roadblocks. Their blossoming romance emerges from the pen—and memories—of TV scribe Chris Henchy (Spin City), who based the show on his own relationship with Brooke Shields. His first-hand knowledge elevates this series’ wit and realism.

When Alex first falls for “the teacher,” her sister complains, “Your agents and manager are not going to be happy about this. You have an image. You’re America’s sweetheart.” Alex retorts, “Yeah, so shouldn’t I be dating the boy next door?” Her sister replies, “Patrick doesn’t live next door. He lives $3 million away!” Alex doesn’t care. She loves her ordinary man and is determined not to let her fame get in the way of their bliss.

Clever banter, convincing plotlines and great chemistry aren’t all that Henchy creates, though. Patrick and Alex tumble into bed on their fourth date (after a failed attempt on their third). Innuendoes include references to “sex candles,” “shag-me shoes” and gay threesomes. Also, it seems a contented couple is a voyeuristic one as the pair use binoculars to hunt for naked neighbors.

Jokes use Jesus as a punch line, and God’s name frequently appears as an interjection. Patrick facetiously questions the Lord’s intelligence and existence (“God isn’t as smart as [my friend] Molly. If he exists. You’ll have to check with Molly about that”).

Blatant homosexual advocacy occurs when Steven Webber (Wings) guests as a closeted Hollywood action star who borrows Alex to protect his macho image. After being ambushed on national TV, he reluctantly comes out and admits he should have been “true to himself” all along.

It’s always easier to resist the draw of a sloppy series devoid of creativity. I’m With Her isn’t that kind of show. That may make it harder for some families to push the off button. But if they don’t, teens will be left studying a textbook full of misguided relationship advice.

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 23, 30, Oct. 7, 21, 28, Nov. 4, 11, 2003

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Steven Isaac

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