Created by
Opening theme"Supermodels" by Kendall Payne
Ending theme"High School Highway" by Sydney Forest
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes43 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Ryan Murphy
  • Gina Matthews
Running time44 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkThe WB
ReleaseSeptember 29, 1999 (1999-09-29) –
May 18, 2001 (2001-05-18)

Popular is an American teen comedy-drama television series that aired on The WB, created by Ryan Murphy and Gina Matthews, starring Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope as two teenage girls who reside on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum at their high school, but are forced to get along when their single parents meet on a cruise ship and get married. The show was produced by Touchstone Television and ran for two seasons on The WB from September 29, 1999, to May 18, 2001.


Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) and Sam McPherson (Carly Pope), students at Jacqueline Kennedy High School, are polar opposites. Brooke is a popular cheerleader and Sam is an unpopular reporter for the school newspaper. Their respective groups are forced to socialize when Brooke's father and Sam's mother get engaged and the two girls have to share a house.

The plot of the first season revolves around the girls' school life, rival groups of friends, mutual animosity and plan to separate their parents. At the end of the season, Sam finds Brooke's real mother and encourages her to come back to town, which breaks up the engagement and splits the new family apart.

By the second season, Brooke and Sam realize that their parents were happy together, and therefore team up to reunite them, a move which results in the girls slowly becoming close friends, and even referring to each other as "family", though tensions rise when they both get involved with the same boy. Also, a reversal of fortunes takes place, with Brooke resigning from cheerleading to focus on her studies, and Sam experiencing a surge of sudden popularity at school. In the end of the second-season finale – which turned out to be the unexpected series finale when the show was cancelled – Brooke is run over by a drunk and angry Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels).


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Main cast

Supporting cast


Main article: List of Popular (TV series) episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
122September 29, 1999 (1999-09-29)May 18, 2000 (2000-05-18)
221September 22, 2000 (2000-09-22)May 18, 2001 (2001-05-18)


Popular was broadcast from September 29, 1999, until May 18, 2001, for 2 seasons on The WB.

International release

The show aired in Sweden, Poland, and Brazil with subtitles while retaining the original music and English dialogue. It also premiered with dubbed versions in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy and Russia.

Home media

The complete series of Popular has been released on DVD in region 1 by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD versions of select episodes had to change several songs that were used in the original aired episodes to stock music due to licensing fees. Television shows like Dawson's Creek, Daria, Mission Hill, Grosse Pointe and other series also went through similar situations where their DVD and streaming (ex. Netflix, Hulu) counterparts used stock music as a replacement in order to cut costs of using other artists' music.

Season Episodes Release date
1 22 September 21, 2004
2 21 March 8, 2005

Opening theme

The show's main opening theme was excerpted from the song "Supermodels", a track from indie singer-songwriter Kendall Payne's 1999 album Jordan's Sister.[1] The ending theme song is "High School Highway" by Sydney Forest.[1]


When Ryan Murphy met with an executive at The WB in 1998, the executive made homophobic remarks and notes to Murphy and about the show, Popular. Murphy recalled, “I had one meeting with an executive about a script, and I showed up at the meeting, and he started imitating my voice, and making feminine hand gestures — which I don’t have — and I never thought my voice was gay until he repeated it back to me...I literally was stunned into silence and he was being really, really brutal to me."[2] The executive also gave a note on a Popular script, where one of the characters wore a fur coat and mentioned, "You have to take it out...It’s code for gay. You’re being very gay here."[3] The executive also talked about the character Mary Cherry[4] by commenting, “Could this character be less gay?...The language coming out of this character’s mouth seems very flamboyant, which we think is too gay and will offend some of our viewers, can you take that out?”[3][4]

Murphy continued, "They were interested in gay people who were tragic...They were interested if you were gay and you would kill yourself. Or if you would try and commit suicide. They weren’t interested in gay sensibility, or the language of being gay, which is sometimes not just gay characters."[2]


Critical reception

In a review for Amazon.com, Bret Fetzer wrote,

"The key to Popular is how it merges melodramatic soap-opera stories with wrenchingly blunt and honest portrayals of the cruelties of adolescence. While some viewers may find it galling to listen to a gorgeous young actress who's been on magazine covers moan about how she can't be as perfect as a model, the series tackles everything from anorexia to peer manipulation to teen sex with directness and an eye for moral and emotional complexity. An episode about a Sadie Hawkins dance becomes a satirical farce about body image (female and male); a slumber party turns into brutal humiliation; a teacher decides to get a sex-change operation, prompting anxiety throughout the school. Almost every character gets a moment of heartfelt grandstanding, yet the actors pull them off with commitment and guts ([Sara] Rue routinely turns speeches that could have been cheesy schlock into genuine pathos). Sure, some fantasy sequences are silly, but the show skillfully creates characters and situations that defy easy definition...Popular cunningly subverts expectations; it's a smart show for both."[5]

In 2014, Entertainment Weekly listed Popular at #21 on its list of the "26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever", calling it "the proto-Glee" and saying it "celebrated the value of outcasts and portrayed overplayed topics—Homecoming Court, sex, and secrets—through an absurdist lens."[6]


Season U.S. ratings Time slot Network rank
1 1999–2000 2.9 million[7] Wednesday at 9:00 pm (Episode 1)
Thursday at 8:00 pm (Episodes 2–22)
2 2000–2001 1.7 million[citation needed] Friday at 9:00 pm #11

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient Ref.
2000 Casting Society of America Nominated Best Casting for TV, Comedy Pilot Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, and Robert J. Ulrich [8]
2000 GLAAD Media Awards Won Outstanding TV Individual Episode (for episode "Wild Wild Mess") [9]
2001 GLAAD Media Awards Nominated Outstanding TV Comedy Series [10]
2000 Genesis Awards Won Television – New Series (for episode "Under Siege") [11]
2001 Genesis Awards Won Television – Comedy Series (for episode "Joe Loves Mary Cherry")
2000 SHINE Awards Won Comedy Episode (for episode "Booty Camp") [12]
2000 TV Guide Awards Nominated Favorite Teen Show [11]
2000 Teen Choice Awards Nominated TV – Choice Sidekick Ron Lester [13]
Nominated TV – Choice Comedy
Nominated TV – Choice Actress Carly Pope
Nominated TV – Choice Actress Leslie Bibb
Won TV – Choice Breakout Show
2001 Teen Choice Awards Nominated TV – Choice Sidekick Ron Lester [11]
Nominated TV – Choice Comedy


In February 2000, the casts of Popular and Freaks and Geeks competed against each other in a special celebrity week of Family Feud hosted by Louie Anderson.[14]

Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope appeared in episode 6 of fellow WB series Grosse Pointe as actresses from Popular in a volleyball game against Johnny and Courtney.

In 2012, several of the main actors reunited and raised $30,000 for AIDS Walk in Los Angeles.[15]


  1. ^ a b "The WB's Popular Music? | personal.amy-wong.com - A Blog by Amy Wong". personal.amy-wong.com. October 14, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Jung, E. Alex. "Ryan Murphy Remembers a Homophobic Meeting With a WB Executive". Vulture. Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  3. ^ a b Reilly, Kaitlin. "Hollywood Is Ryan Murphy's Response To Years Of The Industry's Homophobia". www.refinery29.com. Retrieved 2023-03-30.
  4. ^ a b September 26, Tim Stack Updated; EDT, 2016 at 09:57 PM. "Ryan Murphy: The WB Was 'Very Homophobic' During the Making of 'Popular'". EW.com. Retrieved 2023-03-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "Popular: Season 1". Amazon.com. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  6. ^ "26 Best Cult TV Shows Ever". Entertainment Weekly. March 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2022.
  7. ^ "US-Jahrescharts 1999/2000". Würzburg, Germany: Quotenmeter.de. May 30, 2002. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "2000 Artios Awards". Casting Society. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  9. ^ "2000 GLAAD Media Awards". Hollywood.com. August 22, 2001. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  10. ^ "GLAAD Announces Nominees for 12th Annual Media Awards". GLAAD. January 16, 2001. Archived from the original on April 9, 2001. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Popular - Awards, retrieved June 8, 2022
  12. ^ Snow, Shauna (October 26, 2000). "Quick Takes". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 8, 2022. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  13. ^ "2000 Teen Choice Awards". Hollywood.com. October 26, 2001. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  14. ^ Matheson, Whitney (May 31, 2013). "The Week in Pop: My pop-culture picks". USA Today.
  15. ^ O'Connell, Mikey (October 15, 2012). "The Cast of 'Popular' Reunites at AIDS Walk Los Angeles". The Hollywood Reporter.