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TV show structure I'd like to see.
blaisepascal
The idea I have for a show goes like this:

It's an ensemble show, with about 8-12 main characters, all college students who are brought together by a student organization on campus (The McGuffin Appreciation Society). There may be other students (club members and non-), but they are not main characters.

About a 3rd of the main characters are freshmen, another 3rd sophomores, etc. The school years of the characters might not be explicitly mentioned, but implied through mentions of what classes they are in, how new they are to the school, concerns about what they are going to do after graduation, etc. Importantly, the characters age in real-time. Every year, the seniors graduate, every year, new freshmen join. After 4 years, there should be a complete cast turnover.

Not everyone has start (or have started, before the series began) as an 18yo freshman. There's room to introduce the 24yo freshman who paid for his tuition by 2 tours in Afghanistan, the 20yo transfer student who did her first two years at her local community college, or the 40yo "non-traditional student" who has decided to finally get that BS she always said she would. Likewise, leaving school early for reasons of money, family problems, bad grades, or transferring up can all be ways to allow an early exit.

The stories can range around the sorts of things which happen in college life: romances, breakups, concerns about passing classes, bad roommates, drinking (legally or not), cheating, etc. Soap-opera-y? Maybe. But there are a lot of stories that can be told in that setting. I'm sure any college grad has a few they could add to the mix.

Glee is similar in concept, but (a) there are main characters who aren't students (but are teachers/administrators), and (b) it seems there is not a lot of turn-over of students.

The major argument I can see against the framework is the idea that, after 4 years, the major characters the audience has grown to know and love, have to graduate and leave.

Whaddya think?

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And then everyone including the Willow/Sailor Mars character go off to Sunnyvale State/Montrose Academy....

Yeah, that's how things usually go. But that's a large degree what I'm trying to avoid with this issue.

Hopefully, by introducing new characters each season while having characters graduate will mitigate the "let's follow Willow to the conveniently, rarely mentioned, college in the same town" issue.

One key will be trying hard to make it not about the key characters introduced in the first season. Both "Buffy" and "Sailor Moon" were about the named characters, so when they left high school, so did the show. "Cheers" was able to survive Diane and Coach leaving because while they were important main characters, the show wasn't centered on them (if it could have survived Sam leaving is a different question).

The 4-year limit doesn't have to apply to everyone. Major characters can become grad students, postdocs, or even assistant professors. Not only does this provide a way to keep an actor/actress around for a long time, it also provides a way to develop the character.

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