Review: High School USA! – Ep. 3: Adderall

I definitely enjoyed the first two episodes of this series, but the third episode was kind of a disappointment. It was evident from the pilot that Blackstein was the weakest character and so why they decided to give him his own episode so soon is beyond me. Frankly he needed more time, much like Cassandra, to be developed before they attempted to have held the audience’s attention. “Adderall” deals with several things and in a way tries to tackle too many subjects at once. It’s about pre-college exams basically and it opens with a joke about taking the SAT’s, the PSAT’s and the Rehearsal PSAT’s. From there Blackstein discovers that he hasn’t done anything in high school to pad his college application and instead of studying he’s basically going to fail. The captain of the Gay Club takes notice of him and invites him to join thinking he’s gay. Blackstein’s pumped because he thinks this is his way into college, but he’s not gay in the least bit.

The Adderall comes into play as Amber has been taking them all her life and Marsh talks her into giving Blackstein one so that he can focus on being gay. It works for a while, but he runs out and starts looking at boobs again. He asks Amber for more, but she won’t share them because she’s low and needs them for studying. Her little brother hears the conversation and what comes as no surprise, is the fact that he’s on them as well. He offers to sell Blackstein his and in the process Blackstein gets arrested.

High School USA Adderall (4)

None of the jokes hit in this episode and while I could appreciate the effort of all of them there were just too many subjects to deal with. College prep, college, studying, Adderall, being gay and taking drugs basically sums up the episode. If you hated that last sentence imagine watching a ten minute episode in which all of them are crammed within the plot. It’s to the point that you almost miss the jokes. I watched it a second time and picked up a few I missed, but it didn’t make it any better for me.

High School USA Adderall (5)

With the obvious flaw of Blackstein’s character exposed (the flaw being that he’s just a really poorly constructed stereotype unable to support the story) it also made me wonder about Cassandra’s character. She was an asset in the first two episodes and delivered some great jokes, but in this episode she was completely gimmicky and served no purpose other than a failed attempt at laughter. I hope that they don’t spotlight her in the next episode because I imagine the results will be about the same. The show’s success was the fact that episodes focused on two characters and that Marsh was the constant. It worked, but the fact that they broke from it so soon is troubling.

High School USA Adderall (6)

I’m hoping this is just a one-off bad episode because things that were weak in the previous two were better in this episode. The voice acting (with the exception of the guest characters) was better and flowed naturally. The art style is still very strong and the backgrounds felt alive with random characters just there to populate the scene. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t as good.

Score: 3/5

Writer/Creator: Dino Stamatopoulos

Airs on Fox, Sunday Nights or stream it on Hulu