The pilot episode of Big Time Rush premiered on Nickelodeon in November of 2009. It told the story of four best friends attending high school in a small town in Minnesota, getting into mischief, playing hockey, and caring for each other. These four friends are Kendall Knight, Logan Mitchell, Carlos Garcia, and James Diamond and their personalities are established fairly clearly in their first escapade: soaking the girls’ field hockey team with a sprinkler prank. Kendall is our leader, Logan is cautious, Carlos is reckless, and James is ambitious.
It is James’ ambition to be a popstar which eventually leads all four boys to an audition for former boyband manager Gustavo Rocque, who is looking for a new solo artist. Though Kendall, Logan, and Carlos only attend the audition to support James they all end up on the audition list thanks to an exasperated assistant by the name of Kelly Wainwright, who has already travelled the country with Rocque and found no one worth signing. After James, Logan, and Carlos are all berated by Gustavo for their auditions, Kendall takes the stage and mocks the record producer’s sappy pop ballads and cheesy dance routines which haven’t been popular in the last ten years.
It is in this show of contempt that Gustavo sees the necessary “fire” in Kendall and offers him the contract with Rocque Records. Kendall quickly and defiantly tells the man he can forget about it.
After his friends tell Kendall he would be stupid not to take this opportunity and assure him they each would if they were in his position, however, he accepts Gustavo’s offer on the condition that he take all four boys and make a singing group rather than a solo act. Faced with heading back to LA with either a group or nothing at all, Gustavo begrudgingly allows Kendall’s terms and he takes the four boys along with Kendall’s mother, Jennifer, and younger sister, Katie, to Los Angeles to work on the new pop group.
This show is honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen from Nickelodeon in terms of characters, story development, and continuity. Every character here is well-defined with multi-faceted personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and desires. Almost every character has a past which informs his or her behavior and has been given screen time and storylines which beef up their role on the show. The story paces and develops itself with an over-arching plot which is not always emphasized, but never really forgotten, and the continuity from episode to episode and season to season is thought-out and executed well. Very rarely are these things done on a show aimed at the teen/tween demographic.
I think the writing on the show is surprisingly smart. Yes, it’s on Nickelodeon so expect the potty humor and vaudeville-esque slapstick, but there is also clever wordplay and self-referencing humor peppered in to keep the older audiences interested. One of my favorites was when the boys went to the pool at the Palm Woods (the hotel they stay in along with other aspiring young celebrities, known as “the home of the future famous”) and found a sign declaring “Adult Swim: No Kids Allowed!” which Kendall brilliantly adjusted to read “Adult Swim? No, Kids Allowed!” which, as a grammar nerd, I found to be one of the best jokes the show ever played. Seriously, this is a kids’ show and they are making an illustration of how important punctuation is. What other kids’ show has jokes about punctuation? Brills.
Now, as much as I love the writers of this show, I have been occasionally unhappy with them. The relationships between the four main guys seemed to deteriorate in the second season and they developed in ways I didn’t necessarily like. They seemed to become more selfish, especially Kendall, and put their music careers and other desires ahead of their friendship which they were completely opposed to doing in season one. Though I didn’t like it, I actually do feel like it was fine writing so I guess I can’t complain against the writers for making valid storyline choices I just didn’t like. One thing I didn’t like that I do think was an actual weakness in the writing, however, was the decision to make Logan’s real name Hortense just for a stupid joke in a flashback. It just…ugh, it made me so mad!
The situation was this: James’ mother has been established as a woman “you don’t say no to” and one of the examples used was the guys meeting her for what must have been the first time and James introducing his friends Kendall, Carlos, and Hortense. Mrs. Diamond responds “I don’t like that name. Call him ‘Logan’ from now on.” And everyone says “Ok!”.
No, Mrs. Diamond, you do not get to change the name of a boy you don’t even know. No, Kendall, you do not say “Ok” when someone bullies your best friend. Hello? That was practically your main character trait! You make people be themselves and like themselves for who they are! I don’t give a flying fuck if “you don’t say no” to Mrs. Diamond, Kendall has never been one to back down when someone he cares about is being pushed around, least of all Logan who has always been established as having a particular closeness with Kendall.
And what about “Hortense”’s parents? Do they get a say in this? No, I guess they just kowtow to Brooke Diamond as well. God only knows why they named their son Hortense in the first place but I guess they didn’t care too much about it anyway since they let some random lady outrank their authority as parents by renaming their son.
Everything about this was garbage. It illustrated a point about another character which had already been established and didn’t need reinforcing, it makes all of the characters look bad because of the way the situation was handled, and now Logan’s whole identity has been changed! I can’t stand it and it didn’t have to be done and probably won’t ever be referenced again which makes it even more infuriating. They threw a monkey wrench into the guys’ history for no reason other than a cheap laugh at how girly Logan’s name used to be.
Sorry about that but I get really upset over this thing. It’s just, Logan is my favorite character on the show and his great relationship with all the guys but especially Kendall is my favorite aspect of the show so seeing this scene piss all over his character and friendships really burned my nuggets.
Let’s get back to the things I love, shall we?
The cast is spectacular. Every main and featured character is played fantastically by their actors who bring so much personality to their roles. I am happy to give much of the credit for this to the writers who have given each performer great material to work with as even minor characters get to have fairly substantial parts now and then in the story where they can shine and develop. None of the characters are so superficial as they seem at first glance: the crazy method actress Camille is actually a caring and hardworking young girl, the cold-hearted group known as “The Jennifers” are not only dedicated to their work but also to each other, etc.
On top of how well each actor plays his or her character, there’s a joy that comes through so clearly in their work that makes the show wonderful to watch. It’s clear that everyone on this set is having a great time with each other and loving what they do, thereby making the finished product that much better.
I have so much more to say but I think this is gonna need to be split into at least one more part so I’ll end it here for now. Look forward to more about the music of BTR and the relationships between the characters on the show, and of course shipping. Sooooo much fervent shipping.