• Publication date: January 11, 2011

From Hard Knocks To Harvard An Orphan Proves She�s Ivy League Material

�Best Years� is set at the fictional Charles University in Boston, Massachusetts, an Ivy League school mimicking the prestigious Harvard University. The focal character is Samantha Best (Charity Shea) often referred to as Sam. Samantha was raised in one of Boston�s toughest neighborhoods and, prior to attending Charles, bounced from one foster home to another. Her uncle, Patrick (Gabriel Hogan) was granted custody of Sam after both her mother and father passed away.

�Best Years� is set at the fictional Charles University in Boston, Massachusetts, an Ivy League school mimicking the prestigious Harvard University. The focal character is Samantha Best (Charity Shea) often referred to as Sam. Samantha was raised in one of Boston�s toughest neighborhoods and, prior to attending Charles, bounced from one foster home to another. Her uncle, Patrick (Gabriel Hogan) was granted custody of Sam after both her mother and father passed away. Unfortunately, Patrick relinquished custody of Sam at a young age forcing her into the hands of the state. Sam�s uncle has a tendency to leave and enter her life, usually when he is in need of something. For example, in season one Patrick appears in ailing heath and begging his niece to donate one of her kidneys � a risky procedure for someone who is virtually a stranger.

Samantha�s shaky upbringing proves problematic at the largely upper-class university. Her impoverished childhood, and its possible hindrance to academic advancement becomes evident during Sam�s first day of class, when she is scorned by a professor for failing to correctly define a complex word. The implication of her mistake, in the professor�s eyes, is that a lady of Sam�s status cannot possibly compete at Charles. Yet how others perceive Samantha is of less determent than her more immediate problem: she lacks funds to pay for her meal plan, and attending university without food is not feasible.

While most of Charles� students descend from wealthy families, Sam attends through the help of a generous sponsor, her aunt, Dorothy O'Sullivan (Sherry Miller). However Dorothy�s favor is not completely altruistic; her seemingly selfless work raising funds for the university allows her to keep tabs on Sam�s cousin, Alicia (Lauren Collins). Additionally, Sam�s presence alongside Alicia enables Dorothy to gather intelligence regarding her daughter by proxy.

Of course, no school drama would be complete without romance between students, and in the case of Charles University, between professors and students. Noah Jensen (Randal Edwards), a film student from Montreal partakes in a romance with an older, female instructor � who happens to be married to Sam�s demanding business professor. Meanwhile, Samantha hooks up with cocaine addicted Trent Hamilton (Niall Matter), a bartender at the popular Colony hangout. When Sam insists that Trent clean up his act, he forms a bond with Alicia, who eventually participates in drug use as well.

�Best Years� has received respectable ratings and spawned a second season with a third possibly in the works. The Canadian produced program�s lively characters are both likeable and realistic, a quality that will no doubt be a hit amongst its teen demographic.