Season 1 Episode 1

Popular, Round One (1)

Aired Unknown Sep 29, 1999 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
78 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Popular, Round One (1)
It is said that first impressions last, and that is the first lesson the kids of Kennedy High learn on their first day of school. We are introduced to Sam McPherson, a strong-willed reporter, along with her small circle of unpopular friends: Carmen Ferrara, a pretty girl desperate for a spot on the cheerleading squad; Lily Esposito, a passionate activist; and Harrison John, the geeky guy who is in love with the head cheerleader. On the other side of the cafeteria sit the popular kids - Brooke McQueen, the head cheerleader and Queen of Kennedy High, along with her cohorts: Nicole Julian, the evil power-hungry best-friend; Josh Ford, the popular jock boyfriend; Mary Cherry, the dim-witted millionaire heiress; and Sugar Daddy, the wannabe gangster. The two groups collide and come to realize they are a lot more similar than they previously believed.moreless

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  • And so it begins...

    We're introduced to the McPherson family... Jane McPherson a single-mom who's husband died 2 years ago, and her daughter Samantha "Sam" McPherson, a little rebelious and very smart...

    Then we move on to the McQueen household... Mike McQueen a single-father who's wife left 7 years ago, and his daughter the radiant teen queen Brooke McQueen, the typical popular blonde princess... With a few self-esteem issues...

    They are the leaders of two groups on completely extreme sides of the popularity ladder... Along with Sam are Carmen, Lilly and Harrison... And with Brooke there's Nicole, Marry Cherry, Josh and Sugar Daddy...

    All the actors were perfect for their part, and did outstanding jobs... But Ok performance points go to Nicole Julian and Marry Cherry even with their not so big roles... They stole the show!! Brooke needed a little work... But she does get better as the show progresses...

  • great

    Sam McPherson, an unpopular girl, and her friends, Harrison, Lily and Carmen. meet the popular crowd: Brooke McQueen (head cheerleader), Nicole Julian (the Devil her self), Josh Ford (Brooke's boyfriend and captain of the football team), Mary Cherry, and Sugar Daddy. These groups hate each other. Brooke is assigned to be Sam's lab partner in biology. Carmen tries out for the cheerleading squad. Sam tries to help her with a cover story in the school paper about popularity, but instead she ends up trying to get invited to Brooke and Nicole's party, which will define who's hot and who's not. Josh decides to be in the school play, and that becomes an issue because Brooke doesn't want to date a drama geek. Carmen doesn't make the squad because Nicole thinks she is too fat to be a cheerleader.moreless
  • The beginning of the year at Kennedy High!

    In this episode you get to see the differences to Sam's and Brooke's groups of friends and see how both of the groups feel about the other group. In this episode you see how the way Sam and Brooke feel about each other even though they don't know each other as much as they think. Carmen trys out for cheerleading because she wants to be popular and she loves to dance. Sam and Lilly don't really support Carmens decision to try out. Brooke trys to convince Nicole that Carmen should be on the squad but fails. In the end of the episode Carmen doesn't make the squad.moreless
  • The new school year begins at Kennedy High and the students bgein to find their places on the popularity scale. Cheerleaders Brooke and Nicole face off against Sam and her friends Lily, Carmen, and Harrison. It's a battle that is worth the watch.moreless

    I thought it was hilarious that the singer with the guitar is being shown through the very long introduction of the show. It makes it even more strange because the song she was singing wasn't the theme song of the show. The characters appeal very typical to reality. I just thought of it odd that these actors/actress portray fifteen sixteen year olds when in real life they were in their twenties or so. All in all it was an enjoyable beginning that kept me watching the show.moreless
  • Welcome to Bitchville

    A decent pilot episode which does have a few problems and seems like an extremely watered-down version of what the series eventually became. Obviously the WB weren't massively keen on the bizarre storylines Popular eventually went into and preferred it to be more Dawson's Creek than Heathers.

    Popular, Round One introduces all of the main characters at Kennedy High. The popular cheerleader Brooke McQueen, her bitchy best friend Nicole, her jock boyfriend Josh, his best friend Sugar Daddy and psychotic Texan new girl Mary Cherry. Meanwhile, the losers are: Sam McPherson, the artsy reporter and her friends Harrison John and Carmen Ferrera. In the episode, Carmen tries out for the cheerleading squad, only to be ditched for being overweight. Meanwhile, to get in the pants of her crush, Mr Grant, Sam does a report on popularity and interviews people around school, including Brooke.

    All the right ingredients are in the pilot but some of them just don't work. Having end credits-singer Sydney Forest follow the scenes around in the back of a pick-up-truck, singing with her guitar, may have sounded good on paper but just seems weird on screen. Some of the acting isn't that good either, in particular the wooden Leslie Bibb as Brooke. She massively improves as the series goes on, but isn't brilliant here. Tammy Lynn Michaels, Carly Pope and Sara Rue all shine here though.

    Thank god Mary Cherry was made a regular as she's absolutely hilarious throughout. Popular, Round One is a good pilot but doesn't show off how hilarious the show would eventually become.moreless
Sydney Forest

Sydney Forest


Guest Star

Darryl Theirse

Darryl Theirse

Wayne Vincent

Guest Star

John Caponera

John Caponera

Coach Peritti

Guest Star

Natasha Pearce

Natasha Pearce

Lady T

Recurring Role

Hank Harris

Hank Harris

Emory Dick

Recurring Role

Anel Lopez Gorham

Anel Lopez Gorham

Poppita "Poppy" Fresh

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

  • QUOTES (10)

  • NOTES (10)

    • According to Ryan Murphy, the first two episodes of Popular were different to the other episodes in the show. This change was made to make the show more appealing.

    • The song playing during cheerleading tryouts is "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2" by Gary Glitter, a popular song at sporting events.

    • Formerly known as "The Phantom Menace", this episode was renamed in order to avoid legal problems.

    • Marissa Jaret Winokur, best known as Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray, was the second choice for the role of Carmen.

    • Someone from the Lakers cheerleaders was brought in to help out with the cheerleading scenes in the episode.

    • Bryce Johnson wanted to sing his audition piece from 'South Pacific', but he didn't like how he sounded on the recording he made. So he settled for lip-syncing.

    • Creator Ryan Murphy wanted to have a original song in every episode like Sydney Forest's song in the opening credits to this episode. But she did not test well with audiences, so the idea was axed by the network.

    • At the time of this episode Christopher Gorham was told his character Harrison was going to be seen on a skateboard regularly, so he was taking skateboarding lessons, although his new skill was never seen on the show.

    • Popular's premiere followed the premiere of the third season of Dawson's Creek, but moved to its regular Thursday 8pm spot the following day.

    • Kip Pardue was originally cast to play the part of Josh Ford, but producers changed to Bryce Johnson, who fits more the jock stereotype. Scenes with him had to be reshot, but a few promotion pictures were released with him still as Josh.


    • The Kennedy High Newspaper is called the Zapruder Reporter.
      The School is most likely named after U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the newspaper bears the name of civilian Abraham Zapruder who shot the infamous home movie of Kennedy's assassination on November 22nd, 1963.

    • South Pacific - South Pacific is a musical that chronicles two love affairs. The first involves Lt. Joe Cable and a young Polynesian girl. The second revolves around Nellie Forbush, a Navy nurse from Little Rock, and Emile de Becque (the role Josh gets), a French planter with whom she falls in love one enchanted evening. Rodgers and Hammerstein tied the two stories together by having Cable and de Becque go on a dangerous mission behind Japanese lines from which only one of them returns.