The show's fourth season marks the appearance of Alex's first serious girlfriend, Ellen Reed, played by Michael J. Fox's real-life (future) wife Tracy Pollan. Alex tries to pick out his perfect girl in the school directory but falls in love with her roommate, with whom he has nothing in common ("The Real Thing – Part 1 & 2"). Meanwhile, Steven has a very difficult time accepting that Jennifer is growing up and no longer wants to hang out with him ("My Buddy"). Later, Mallory faces the possibility of failing her senior year in high school because of her poor grades ("Paper Chase") and announces that she has no interest in going to college ("The Old College Try").