Hey, remember that short-lived high school TV show from the year 2000 with a cast of future A-listers and Hollywood problem children who made waves far beyond the scope of the one season their show was on the air?
No, I’m not talking about Freaks and Geeks.
I’m talking about Opposite Sex, the eight-episode wonder starring fetus versions of Chris Evans, Milo Ventimiglia, and Allison Mack.
That’s right, superhero fans — Captain America, Peter Petrelli from Heroes, and Chloe Sullivan from Smallville (who, it’s worth noting, was convicted for sex trafficking in real life in 2018) came up together in this forgotten teen drama.
To be absolutely sure: this saccharine series was forgotten for all the right reasons.
Although the series aired around the same time, overlapping for a few months on competing networks, comparing Opposite Sex and Freaks and Geeks feels like comparing shows from entirely different eras of television — and the more contemporary one took place in the year 1980.
Compared to its competition and its successors, Opposite Sex is hokey, square, and feels like it was written by people who had no memory of what it’s like to be a teenager.
I just feel like any TV show where you can watch Steve Rogers dancing to “I Will Survive” in drag is a TV show that merits discussion.
What’s The Deal With OPPOSITE SEX?
Opposite Sex was a drama about three teenage boys — Evans, Ventimiglia, and Kyle Howard — charged with being the first guys enrolled at a formerly all-girls school.
“That’s just like Zoey 101, but opposite,” one of my friends said when I told her about it for the first time.
But where Zoey 101 was always marketed to younger kids, Opposite Sex was marketed to teens, and every single episode was “a very special episode.”
With names like “The Virgin Episode,” “The Drug Episode,” and “The Homosexual Episode,” it seems like Opposite Sex was self-aware enough about being a warning to teenagers rather than seeking an honest depiction of teenage life; but, if you watch it (and you can, it’s all on YouTube), you don’t get the impression that the writers’ room had that sense of humour about itself.
Where late-nineties shows like Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, and Dawson’s Creek had already succeeded in bringing realistic teenagers onscreen, Opposite Sex feels very puritanical and behind the times.
How Did These Kids Become STARS?
Opposite Sex was the 19-year-old Chris Evans’ first series regular role — it was his first series role, period.
He’s also the only one of the stars of note who never returned to teen drama series to make his money — Ventimiglia played the beloved Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls, where Mack played Chloe Sullivan on Smallville for many years.
It would be five more years before Evans would get his big break as Johnny Storm in 2005’s Fantastic Four, and several years longer before cementing his A-lister status in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and, obviously, Captain America: The First Avenger.
Ventimiglia, who was also just starting out in 2000, would star on Gilmore Girls intermittently between 2002-2006, with other teen drama roles on American Dreams and The Bedford Diaries before he booked Heroes and Rocky Balboa.
He’s moved on from being America’s boyfriend to being America’s dad, having played Jack Pearson on This Is Us since 2016.
Mack played Clark Kent’s best friend Chloe Sullivan, who was known for her healing powers, on Smallville between 2001 and 2011.
She plead guilty to involvement with the sex cult NXIVM in 2018.
HBO recently aired the pilot of a miniseries called The Vow, which digs into the history of NXIVM, including Mack’s involvement.
Their teen drama series may not have been so memorable, but their careers have certainly made much more of an impact.
Where Did OPPOSITE SEX Come From?
Opposite Sex was created by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein.
Together, those writers have worked on a bunch of successful romantic comedy films, including Never Been Kissed, He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day, and The Vow.
Since it seems they’ve been more successful in writing movies, neither of them has written full-time on a series since Opposite Sex.
And, funnily enough, Silverstein has been married to Freaks and Geeks and Dawson’s Creek star Busy Philipps since 2007.
To find out how this team assembled that great cast, I looked into casting directors Barbara Miller and Deedee Bradley.
Turns out, I trust these women explicitly, because between them they were also in charge of casting Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Friends, The West Wing, ER, Smallville and an incredible amount of other early-2000s series known for their great ensemble casts.
I’m starting to understand how something as tiny as Opposite Sex produced such enormous stars in Evans and Ventimiglia.
So, Why Even Talk About OPPOSITE SEX?
My best friend and I discovered Opposite Sex about ten years ago, when we were in our early teens and looking to consume as much content as we possibly could starring those cute guys from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Gilmore Girls.
We couldn’t believe our luck when we found this show, made for kids a little older than us, that contained our favourite people.
Since we’re a little younger, we’d already seen The OC and Veronica Mars and other really solid teen dramas made for teens — we knew Opposite Sex was cheesy when we were 13, and we know it’s cheesy now.
But it’s an interesting time capsule — it’s kind of the last gasp for that eighties-and-nineties television ethos centred around teaching kids to behave rather than depicting kids how they are.
Without shows like Opposite Sex, we wouldn’t have gotten the great things that came after it — genre-wise, or actor-wise.
Make sure you thank Evergreen Academy for welcoming Cary, Jed, and Philip into their school the next time you pop on a Marvel movie or cry along to This Is Us.
What do you make of this article?
Did you watch Opposite Sex when it was very briefly on air?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.