Generation Why? | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Generation Why?

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GENERATION WHY?, Big Gulp Productions, at Cafe Voltaire. You know what? I don't want to even hear "Generation X" anymore. Don't whisper it. Don't abbreviate it. Just don't say it. I don't want to see anymore goddamn flannel. And you can stick the words "Seattle," "grunge," "Coupland," "goatee," "Birkenstock," "Brady," and "Winona" on your forbidden list too. Was I the only mofo in my second-grade class who actually got pissed when Mrs. Shachter "treated" us by showing The Brady Bunch on the big Trinitron during recess?

Even more irritating than the term itself is when people make fun of the endless list of Generation (ahem) cliches, because they're buying into a completely media-generated concept. The trouble with Eric Frankie's amusing but ultimately hollow Generation Why?, a lampoon of the stereotypical image of angst-ridden wannabes struggling in Portland, is that its skewering of 20-something pop-culture portrayals only works if you've watched too much TV and too many bad movies.

This 70-minute comedy about three self-absorbed TV addicts with a bevy of problems culled from tear-jerking network movies of the week has some genuinely giggle-inducing flashes: dead-on spoofs of every important moment you can imagine from supposedly profound youth-culture exposes like Reality Bites. And the cast Frankie has assembled for Big Gulp Productions' premiere get their navel-gazing characters just right. But Frankie never goes beyond satirizing his obvious targets, and after a while his empty put-downs begin to play like something else our generation has spent too much time watching: bad TV sketch comedy.

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