Austin, Storied

Just as Austin is the Dallas of the nineties—a booming cultural icon bordering on cliché— Austin Stories may be the Dallas of the nineties. The MTV sitcom, which debuted this fall, is weekly television’s first credible portrayal of Texas and Texans since J.R. got shot. ( Walker, Texas Ranger ? Kung fu in cowboy hats. When was the last time you saw a Ranger kick a gun out of a perp’s hands?) The show—which tracks the exploits of three do-nothings played by homegrown stand-up comics Laura House (left) and Brad “Chip” Pope and New Jersey transplant Howard Kremer—has garnered positive reviews from around the country, despite, or perhaps because of, its complete lack of polish; the acting is stiff and unconvincing, and the jokes miss as often as they hit. Still, a genuine sense of the laid-back city permeates every scene (even if the campus-based slackdom and dusty ennui are more characteristic of Austin in the eighties than today’s high-tech, high-rent town), and there are enough real-life references (drinking Shiner Bock, tubing on the Guadalupe) to give it the feel of a home movie. So when MTV executives meet this month to decide whether to renew Austin Stories , it oughta be a no-brainer. In the best of all possible worlds, the show, like Austin itself, will have two seasons.

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