Genre: Comedy TV Pilot
Premise: After being held in an underground bunker for 15 years by a cult leader, a young woman attempts to navigate the complexities of New York City.
About: This is Tina Fey’s next big show for NBC. She wrote it with Robert Carlock, who wrote for Friends and 30 Rock. Due to the duo’s clout, they’ve gotten the coveted “straight to series” order, which seems to be happening more and more as the networks try to escape the expensive and laborious process of pilot season. Keeping it in the NBC family, the series will star “The Office” actress Ellie Kemper. Fey was the first ever female head writer on Saturday Night Live. She is also (and this is likely more interesting to me than all of you) a HUGE Star Wars fan. Yeah!
Writer: Tina Fey and Robert Carlock
Details: 28 pages (10/22/13 draft)

Tina-Fey-SAG-Awards-Earrings

Despite the golden age of television becoming more and more golden, one of the genres that’s still stuck applying bronzer to itself is comedy. Comedies don’t have that “sexy” factor for some reason. They don’t have cancer-stricken meth dealing chemistry teachers looking into the camera and saying, “I am the danger.” They don’t have the coolest fucking zombie dispatcher in the universe telling his buddies, after being captured by cannibals, “They screwed with the wrong people.”

Since Modern Family came on the scene, there hasn’t been a single exciting comedy to talk about, and I think that’s because the TV comedy universe isn’t changing with the times. They haven’t traversed that same gap that the 1 hour drama has. Think about it. There are so many unique shows to pick from these days. Everyone is taking chances. But on the comedy front? What is there? Girls. Brooklyn Nine Nine maybe? Some people like “Louie” but I can’t watch it for more than 5 minutes without wanting to scrape my eyeballs out with a coat hanger.

Luckily we have Fey. I don’t like everything she does. But there’s an energy in her comedy that’s hard to match. Whether you like it or not, you know she’s having a blast doing it. Combined with a unique premise, which this has, I had high hopes for Tooken. Let’s see if they were met.

Kimmy Schmidt was snatched out of her front yard when she was 13 by a man named Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. Kimmy was the 4th of a group of women who would later become known to the world as the Indiana Mole Women.

The unfortunate four were kept in an underground bunker where they were told that the world above had been destroyed, taken over by robots, and that Richard Wayne Gary Wayne’s relationship with God was the only thing keeping them alive. That ended when the FBI showed up (and a nearby black man became famous for explaining to the world what happened via an auto-tuned Youtube video, which also happens to be the opening credits).

After being interviewed by Matt Lauer in New York, the girls prepare to head back to Indiana where they’ll start their lives. But Kimmy wants to do something bigger with herself and decides to stay in New York. She’s got a bunch of cash because of the Indiana Mole Women Fund, so she heads into a city with an 8th grade education and no idea what’s happened for the past 15 years.

She eventually meets Titus, a gay 30-something failed actor who’s sole goal in life is to make the cast for the Broadway musical, The Lion King. Short on money, Titus brings Kimmy in as a roommate, taking advantage of her complete financial ignorance.

On their first night together, he takes her out on the town, where she does a bunch of 90s dancing and attempts her first kiss, before Titus realizes that she’s one of the Mole Women. Feeling bad, he gives her her money back and tells her to get out of New York before it eats her up. She refuses to, saying that they’re going to take New York by storm and achieve their dreams together!

Ellie+Kemper+Ellie+Kemper+visits+MTV+Seven+1D1Ggiizi9elEllie Kemper

I gotta admit, breaking down half-hour comedy pilots is a little out of my comfort zone, but the more I read of Tooken, the more I realized writing is writing. You gotta come up with great characters. You gotta come up with interesting situations. And if it’s a comedy, you gotta make people laugh.

Sadly, I don’t know if Tooken achieved any of those.

The oldest staple in comedy is the fish out of water. It works every time. The only thing you have to do is come up with a fresh angle for it. And they did! I’ve never seen a Cult fish out of water comedy before. The problem was they didn’t fulfill the promise of that premise. It was like the fish was brought out of water, then placed in a New York City where it always rained.  In other words, he was only slightly out of his element.

There were a few premise-fulfilling jokes, like the 90s dancing at the club and being excited about a tiny New York apartment because Kimmy was used to sleeping in a box. But other then that, the script was relegated to plot setup, which is the problem with these comedy pilots. You have to lay enough pipe for a hundred episodes and do it in just 22 minutes. So I get that it’s hard. But you’ve got to figure it out! Comedy is cut-throat. If people don’t laugh during the first episode, they’re done! I was really excited about Super Fun Night when it came out because I love Rebel Wilson. But I knew after 10 minutes that it wasn’t working. I never watched another episode.

It’s a moment you hope you never encounter in a script. That beat where you know the thing isn’t working and it isn’t going to work. I was on the fence for awhile here, but when Titus showed up, I knew it was over.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a comedy, a thriller, a drama or a period piece. One thing you can NEVER do is write uninspired characters. And you definitely can’t mail in a KEY character. Titus being an over-the-top gay Latino struggling Broadway actor is something I’ve seen dozens of variations of already. It was too safe.

But it wasn’t just him as an individual. It was him combined with Kimmy. When you pair up your two main characters in a comedy, they’re supposed to make each other funnier! They’re supposed to complement or clash with each other in a way that brings out some humor.

There was no clashing or complementing here. Titus was just this normal slightly sketchy guy who liked to go out. How does that complement a woman in ANY sort of interesting way who spent the last 15 years in an underground bunker?

I would rather Kimmy met a semi-cute straight New Yorker who we see some potential romantic possibilities with later in the series. That’s TV comedy 101. Give us two people we want to see get together.

Or team her up with some jaded New York bitch who’s the complete opposite of Kimmy. Whereas Kimmy has this boundless gullible optimism and, because of her experience, desire to always smell the roses, this roommate is out of touch and completely dependent on the New York machine.  At least then we have some conflict.

To add injury to insult, the funniest parts of Tooken all took place within the opening five pages. The autotuned opening credits. One of the girls wearing rusty braces. Another girl, who was still brainwashed, confused after the Matt Lauer interview (“I’m married to you now. I go with you?”). But from then on, sadly, it was Exposition Series Setup City.

Of course, comedy is one of the most fluid processes in the business. It’s always changing right up to the shooting as they keep refining the jokes.  So you know they’re going to keep working on this.  My worry is that it’s not the jokes here. There’s something wrong with the foundation. They’re not mining this premise enough, which is forcing them to find comedy in the wrong places. And with how important the Titus character is, his miscalculation could prove to be a show-killer. They need someone who’s better integrated into the story and the theme.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Find your comedy in drama. One of the easiest places to find comedy ideas is through real life drama. Look at any dire or intense situation and ask yourself, “Is there a way to make this funny?” Fey and Carlock clearly got this idea from the Ariel Castro kidnappings. They asked themselves, what would it be like coming back to society after living in isolation for 15 years? They had to change the backstory so as not to make it offensive, but this comedy idea was birthed from about as tragic a situation as you’re going to find.

  • fragglewriter

    Reading the premise was interesting but as you continue to breakdown the script, I couldn’t help but think about this show receiving black lash from being too close to the real thing. But if the writers can pull it off as to not make it a knee jerk situation, this would be a good scriptwriting lesson.

    • Randy Williams

      Got the same reaction. My creepy senses really buzzing. Especially with the Gary Wayne joke. Wonder who Wayne is, Gary? The heartbreaking fact that one mother in the real story hoping against hope for so many years died of a broken heart before her daughter escaped makes me cringe when I see they’re using the black man and the video to bolster their premise. Too close.

      but who knows, with some heart, it could work. What do I know?

      But the real thing that irked me was that the protagonist is kidnapped when she was 13 and released at 28 and the big thing is she didn’t know what was going on in the world?!
      Hello, most 13-28 year olds above ground don’t either.

    • cjob3

      Wasn’t Fey herself snatched as a little girl from her front yard? That’s how she got that scar. Some maniac cut her.

      • Exponent5

        Egads! Is that true? Then that makes this doubly effed up.

      • http://screenplayamonth.tumblr.com FilmingEJ

        She wasn’t exactly snatched, but yeah the other part is true.

  • grendl

    I want to carry on yesterday’s conversation.

    Leitskev was right,

    Psychotic but absolutely right.

    Our representative in the story, the protagonist shouldn’t be too unlike us, shouldn’t be set in their ways. They should be trying to find out who they are.

    If you saw that Andrew Stanton TED talk where he cites the snippet from “Lawrence of Arabia”, when Lawrence has just crossed the desert and a guy on a motorcycle screams “WHO ARE YOU?”

    That’s a question Martin Brody asks himself, as does Bud Fox in “Wall Street”. He thought for a while he was Gordon Gekko the corporate raider, but it turns out he’s better than Gekko, as far as morality goes. Chris in “Platoon” doesn’t know who he is as a grunt soldier, more like Elias or more like Barnes. Turns out he was a little of both, but more good than evil, but still the son born of two fathers with diametrically opposed views of war and right and wrong.

    A protagonist works best when they have a path to decide, not only a physical one like finding a lost ark, but an internal one, determining who they want to be.

    Like Ed in “Deliverance” who listens to the different approaches following the killing of the hillbilly, the path of logic, the path of might, the path of cowardice are all made available to him represented by Ronnie Cox, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty.

    Dorothy Gale is presented with the same paths. She should use her brain, she should have some courage or do what her heart tells her to do. She chooses to go after the Wicked Witch of the West, after being stalked by her throughout Oz.

    Just like Martin Brody is presented with the same paths, Hooper as Scarecrow providing the brainy path, Quint providing the path of might, and Larry Vaughn providing the cowards way out.

    The coward’s way out doesn’t work in a story. It got Ned Beatty raped. It made Dorothy run away from home. It got the Kitner boy killed. Problems don’t swim away of their own volition, you have to end them yourself.

    But the brainy logical law abiding way doesn’t always work either. There’s no law out in the boondocks where sodomizing hillbillies reign supreme and their relatives wear badges. Overthinking a problem while one’s opponent double crosses you, like Gordon Gekko did by selling the airline Bud Fox helped procure for him in a garage sale. You sometimes have to fight fire with fire, not take the high road against snakes in the grass or reptiles like Gekko.

    Who is Bud Fox? He wants to have what Gekko has, but at what cost? His dignity? His conscience? Who is Ed? He’s not Ned Beatty, a cowardly lion, he’s not Ronnie Cox a man who’s reason has blinded him into thinking legal channels will get him home safely. Maybe like Dorothy Gale he discovers he’s a little of everything.

    The answer for all is ultimately having courage. Because all have come to the realization that living in fear is no way to live. They would rather die like lions than go on living an existence as a scared lamb.

    But its their indecision that makes them powerful protagonists. Its that not being certain, that desire to try any route possible to solve their mounting problems that makes them great protagonists. That’s what makes them pop. That they have paths available to them to be better people.

    Luke Skywalker could take Han’s lead, take the money and run, but he doesn’t do that. He does the right thing and joins the rebel cause for a greater good. Ed could keep letting that second hillbilly harass him for the rest of the journey down the river, but that would likely lead to his death, so he musters the courage, climbs the hill and puts an arrow through his sea of troubles, or river in this case and by opposing ends them.

    So potential, possibility, these are the characteristics of great protagonists. Blank slates faced with a dilemma. A fork in the yellow brick road, two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I took the one less travelled by, the path of the righteous man…

    A character finding his way is what engages us the audience. Goldilocks doesn’t settle for the first bowl of porridge, nor the second, but the third, that’s just right. Brody doesn’t settle for the act of cowardice which leads to a slap in the face by the kid of the mother who died because he refused to close the beaches, nor does he settle for letting Quint go fight his bully for him alone. It’s his charter. That’s the most important line Brody utters in “Jaws” his moment of truth when the shark hunter gives him the option to stay home high and dry. But Brody learned his lesson the hard way that problems in the fictional cosmos don’t go away by themselves. You have to take arms against your sea of troubles and by opposing end them once again.

    Everyman is as powerful a protagonist as you can have. Their universality and the fact that they haven’t decided who they are yet are what make them strong. Only James Bond has no fear. He’s the only protagonist in my opinion who can get away with it.

    Indy fears snakes, rats and can’t for the life of him figure out women, so don’t cite him as an infallible protagonist.

    So a blank slate for a protagonist, often is great. A waitress who doesn’t know here place in the world until a futuristic cyborg comes along and gives her purpose, that’s a character who pops. An underdog, a David, not Goliath.

    And Gekko has to be more ruthless than Bud Fox, Solo more dashing and roguish than Luke Skywalker, Quint more alpha than Brody, to provide the clear cut choice for the protagonist. They are the experts or the epitome of their chosen paths in life. They can’t be uncertain ( although Han does see the error of his ways making him even better ), they have to be definitive role models the protags either choose to be like or disavow.

    A thread worth continuing I think.

    • leitskev

      Given the choice, I suppose right is preferable to psychotic!

      Your argument is on point for several reasons, but what I think is most helpful is that this approach allows for the possibility that change is not necessarily the point…choice is.

      The standard approach is to present us with a flawed protagonist that needs to change in order to succeed. But Grendyl’s approach here explains that it’s the choice the matters, not change. The hero must choose the right path. That may require change, or it may not. In some stories, it involves NOT changing, but rather remaining true to who the character is in the face of temptation to change. I think a lot of theorists miss that.

      In such a scenario, growth is the strength that comes from having been tested and tempted, and having remained true.

      The key is choice.

      Grendyl is spot on. Lock it up, print it.

      • grendl

        That’s why that Pixar point, that people want to see a character try, not necessarily succeed is so right.

        Whether or not Rocky beats Apollo Creed is irrelevant, it was showing the fight in himself that was the important thing, stepping into the ring knowing he was overmatched.

        The butler Stevens in”Remains of the Day” tried as hard as he could to express his long burning feelings for Emma Thompson, driving across England to do so. But it turns out he couldn’t.

        Still it was the try that was the important thing. We’re inspired by the Bad News Bears feistiness, the fight they showed in standing up to the Yankees. They didn’t have to win.

        The fact that they came together and played like a team, and Morris Buttermaker realized he didn’t want to be an asshole like Yankee manager Vic Morror ( a person who is the epitome of poor sportsmanship win at all costs prickdom ). Once again Morrow is clear cut, his lot in life set in stone, Buttermaker still can be something better.

        And it was a great touch that the young Yankee players showed respect for the Bears for giving them all they could handle.

      • Malibo Jackk

        It’s also interesting that years ago strong male characters were in vogue.
        Look at the old westerns with John Wayne, Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke, and Paladin of Have Gun Will Travel.
        (There is some carryover with action movies.)

        Now audiences want the male lead to be vulnerable.
        Do men want the male leads to be vulnerable? Or is it women?
        Or both.
        Not sure.

        • leitskev

          That probably is a style thing that will cycle over like wide bottom ties. Maybe it can be correlated to the ties? In the big TV series like House of Cards, Mad Men, etc., the trend seems to be bad guy as hero.

          House of Cards has a classic opening. Outside of a Washington, D.C. row house, a dog is screeching in pain. We meet out protag, who leaves the house to check it out. We know he’s important because there’s a Secret Service detail outside. He finds the neighbor’s dog has been hit and lies dying on the street. He sends the agent to get the neighbors, and then tells us in the audience he must do what he must. The dog will suffer and die. The right thing is to kill it before the owners arrive and suffer with it. So he kills it with his bare hands.

          What kind of man is this? He almost takes glee in killing the animal. And yet his compassion for both the neighbor and the animal seems genuine.
          Interesting character, and we’ve only just met him!

          • IgorWasTaken

            Good point. But just FYI: The security detail are Capitol Police, not Secret Service.

          • leitskev

            Ah! I knew I had to be wrong as I was writing it, but I wasn’t sure who the police were. Thanks.

          • IgorWasTaken

            I used to deal with a lot of those different “security forces”, and yet, these days, every so often I learn about one that I not only never heard of – I find it hard to believe they were ever even authorized into existence.

          • leitskev

            Yeah, it seems every single federal agency has their own police force.

        • mulesandmud

          There’s always room in Hollywood for more macho bullshit. The hero’s softer side has a legacy that’s almost as long, though.

      • JakeMLB

        What you’re discussing reads to me like basic character arc and the hero’s journey. Begin with a hero who is either living wrong or naive. Inciting incident pushes them outside their normal world but change requires a choice. Most of the trials in the second act will test that choice. Usually the hero will make the wrong choice, until they make the right choice and fundamentally change.

        • leitskev

          Yes, except that Campbell’s Hero’s Journey has the character change(or arc if you prefer). What I am saying is that in film, sometimes the point is to not change. The character faces great trials which threaten to change him, or tempt him, but in the end he remains unchanged and succeeds because of it.

          Not the best example, but let’s look at Luke Skywalker. True, he does grow in that he learns to accept the force. But he doesn’t really change I don’t think. He remains the kid devoted to fighting the dark side. This is important in that he faces thhe temptation to be like Hans Solo, a guy who fights for himself. Yet it is Hans who changes, inspired by Luke. And later Luke is tempted by his father to join the dark side, but instead it is his father who changes, turning away from the dark side.

          • JakeMLB

            You may have missed my edit but I think that making a choice one wouldn’t normally make is still an aspect of change regardless of whether that character remains mostly true to themselves (although it may depend on the choice). But I think you’re right in that structure being a form of story structure that’s often overlooked and definitely can and does work.

            Not sure if I can think of too many examples though. Often in films where the character doesn’t fundamentally change, there is little temptation to change and they remain consistent throughout. Not saying it can’t work just that it’s not as common.

            Sometimes too, the protagonist is an agent for change for someone else in the story or for the audience themselves while they, the protagonist, remain fundamentally unchanged.

          • leitskev

            On your last point, yes, glad you also have considered that. I previously used an example of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as an example of that. In fact, it just occurs to me…look at the name: Solo. He’s about himself. The most powerful moment in the film is when he changes he returns to save Luke. I have argued in the past that the bonds between characters is often far, far more important than the arc of the hero. It’s the bonds…forming, breaking, reforming, testing…that move us the most. We are more moved by Han returning than by Luke surrendering to the force. In True Grit, it’s the bond between Mattie and Rooster that movies us. Rooster watching her cross the river is far more moving than her decision to cross. It’s the bonds that move us, not the hero changing.

    • mulesandmud

      It’s a bit of a tightrope act.

      We want stories about protagonists who are distinct and interesting, because those people will make distinct choices. On the other hand, if these characters start out fully formed, then the journey is over before it started.

      Most great stories teaches us things about our main character that we (and they) wouldn’t have suspected at first, and reveals those things through choice. We want protagonists to be unformed or incomplete somehow at the beginning, so that the story itself can take them the rest of the way, or at least reveal their deeper layers. The gap in the character is the place where we sit; once there’s no more gap, we don’t need the seat anymore, because the story’s over.

      An everyman is only as good as his specifics; the details should be distinct, but the feelings behind them needs to be universal. Without specifics to hold onto, relatable becomes forgettable right quick. Brody is a New Yorker trapped among New Englanders, a beach cop who can’t go in the water, and father who lets a kid get killed.

      Not only do Brody’s specifics draw us into his world and his feelings, they’re also hardwired into the DNA of the plot. That’s the trickiest part of character details: making sure that the specifics you add inform your story directly, that it’s all of a piece, so that by the end A+B=C. Everyman or not, the best stories leaves us with the sense that we’ve seen something both unique (‘This could only have happened if this specific person found herself in this exact situation.’) and resonant (‘This is a feeling I understand.’)

    • gonzorama

      That’s why I love this site – moments of brilliance folded into threads like this. Great post, grendl. And lots to think about…

    • brenkilco

      you’re talking mostly about conventional Hollywood genre pictures where the protagonist confronts a problem, grows and develops and ultimately prevails.Certainly a useful structure for commercial scripts There are, of course, a lot of movies where the protagonist scarcely changes at all. Most John Wayne movies. Most Clint Eastwood films. The question isnt whether the protagonist will win, only how. But beyond this your structure ignores at least one traditional narrative mode, tragedy. The protagonist doesn’t triumph, may or may not change substantially beyond the recognition of his own flaws. From Othello To Jake Lamotta. From Michael Corleone to Scotty Ferguson. And beyond this ironic films where the choices made by the protags wind up useless or worse: Dr. Strangelove, Rules of the Game, perhaps Lawrence of Arabia and most film noirs. You’ve outlined elements necessary to construct a certain kind of story. But it’s far from the only kind.

      • mulesandmud

        Refusal/inability to change is part of the spectrum of change, just as the futility of choice is part of the spectrum of choice.

        A story that offers no possibility for either change or choice is a story without potential, in which nothing happens to nobody, aka not a story.

      • leitskev

        Yes, but the key aspect of Grendl’s point was about choice. The hero faces choices. In the tragedy, he chooses the wrong path, as Michael Corleone does, or Tony Montanna in Scarface. Some of the best John Wayne movies involve choices, though not so much Eastwood.

        Nothing is an absolute rule. Anything that engages the audience, whatever it takes.

  • Magga

    “Some people like “Louie”
    Many, many viewers and critics feel it is the Citizen Kane of television comedy. You seem to be writing it off fairly quickly

  • cjob3

    Carson, you’re so right about how there’s no sexy sitcom ideas anymore. What happened to imagination? Creativity?

    I’m reading this Simpsons book where Matt Groening talks about television in the 60s: Get Smart. F Troop. Hoagan’s Heroes. I Dream of Jeanine. These are wild ideas and settings. Nowadays multicamera network sitcoms are just people in living rooms sniping at each other. The other night I watched the new network sitcom “Undateable.” It literally went from the living room, to the bar they own (because of course they own a bar) back to the living room, bar, living room, bar, finally culminating in a scene where all the characters from the bar show up in the living room. So boring!!

    • Randy Williams

      It’s a different audience,,maybe? Much of TV today is just background noise while you’re doing something else. Didn’t those old shows rely on a bunch of visual gags? Barbara Eden in “Jeanine” Damn, the camera could hold on her face for ages. Audience was on the couch every minute. If your show nowadays doesn’t work from a purely audio level, one joke after the next, who cares if it’s only in the living room and the bar, it doesn’t work?

    • Nicholas J

      You could say that stuff about almost any multicam network sitcom ever. Gilligan’s Island was just people sitting around on a beach sniping at Gilligan. I Love Lucy was just people sitting around Lucy’s living room yelling at each other. Seinfeld was just people sitting around Jerry’s living room. The house in Roseanne, the apartments in Friends, the basement in That 70s Show. All people just sitting around sniping at each other.

      Of course 75% of the show is going to be in somebody’s living room. It’s called a set and there’s 100 reasons for using one.

    • IgorWasTaken

      I think they’ve tried that recently and failed. Maybe it was the execution; or, people just didn’t like the premise. But this past season I vaguely recall a show about people living in a neighborhood where every other family was from some other planet.

      Also, in the 1960s (if you were white, anyway), everything was hopeful. Even after Kennedy was shot. Until the Vietnam War became a public-political issue, people were hopeful in a that made those shows you listed seem more sellable. Also, those shows were descendents of the shows of the 1950s, which were all unreal and a bit goofy.

  • cjob3

    I’m all for edgy comedy – but some of these kidnapped women jokes sound kinda uncomfortable. Maybe if he’d kidnapped a few men too? Like, what was the kidnapper doing with these women for all that time? It might be too sad to be funny.

  • cjob3

    I once tried to write a one-act comedy about the Columbine shootings, just to see if I could make that funny. It didn’t really work. It focused on the father who thought he’d been doing a good job of parenting up til then. It was called “My Bad.”

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    Certainly not surprised to see that Carson doesn’t like Louie. Though, not being able to stand it for more than five minutes is pretty extreme, but you like what you like.

    I think it’s one of the most original shows…. ever. There is absolutely no convention to it. I honestly cannot explain why it even works for me, and for so many others. Other than the fact that it cuts straight to the truth; it’s probably the most resonant television show I have ever seen. It defies reality, and yet echoes reality so exactly, which I think is what creates the perfect balance of absurdity, monotony, comedy, drama, and self-reflection.

    It’s likely the only show where I can watch every episode (at least from the second season forward…. the first has some rocky episodes as it gets into its groove) and always, at some point (if not multiple points), say to myself “hey, he’s talking about ME right now.” Or “hey, I know THAT feeling.” Or whatever.

    Just goes to show that if you can CONNECT with an audience, you can get away with so much. Some of his episodes are literally about nothing. If you tried describing the plot to someone, it would sound like nothing. And yet it’s amazing.

    And, of course, that’s not to mention some of the plain outrageously hilarious moments. I remember starting up the first episode of the fourth season – a bunch of garbage men start banging the cans around, making as much noise as possible, then end up coming into Louie’s apartment. Totally ridiculous. But that’s how I often felt every Tuesday morning at one apartment in LA where the trash was right outside my (usually open) bedroom window. I remember watching that and saying, “yep, he’s back.”

    Not to mention, what’s similarly great is that I’m 24 years old…. never been divorced…. don’t have kids…. never been through most of what Louie deals with…. and yet I can connect with something in almost every episode.

    That’s why I call it possibly the most original comedy of all time – if not of all time, at least the past 30 or so years.

    And David Lynch should guest star in everything.

    • cjob3

      David Lynch, brilliant. And Gary Marshall should win an Emmy for that speech. I’ve probably watched that scene ten times.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        Hell yes!!!

        • cjob3

          Make that 11 times.

  • Brainiac138

    Silicon Valley is one the most intelligent shows on tv right now, and a hilarious comedy. As a matter of fact, I’d probably rather watch that than the Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.

  • Jim Dandy

    I never liked ’30 Rock’. The jokes were telegraphed, obvious and lame.

    ‘Modern Family’ is more clever than ha-ha funny.

    There have only been two “lose-control-of-your-bodily-functions” TV comedies I’ve seen in the last ten years, and they were both from Britain. They were ‘The Thick Of It’ and ‘Peepshow’. You really need to check them out. I’ve never seen anything like ‘Peepshow’ before, either structurally or in terms of its comic perspective.

    • http://screenplayamonth.tumblr.com FilmingEJ

      I absolutely love 30 Rock. I thought it was clever, and the cultural references never fail to impress me. I love Peep Show too, haven’t checked out The Thick of It yet.

      For some reason though, the shows that I know I’m not going to enjoy too much are multicam. That’s why I was so disappointed in the new Mulaney commercial, jokes just don’t land with me when there’s an audience laughing along.

  • ripleyy

    Modern Family is the sharpest comedy I’ve ever watched on TV since Friends. The jokes on that show are so razor sharp that you’ll definitely miss 10% of them until you re-watch it. Recently I decided to re-watch the whole series again and I laughed even more because I picked-up on jokes I missed the last time. I think that’s the best kind of comedy, that they’re so tightly stitched into the material itself that you wouldn’t even know it’s there until you look.

    But nowadays comedies are just a blank canvas and painted over with jokes. I think the best way to write a comedy is if it’s incorporated into the material like I said above. It’s why “Friends” is so dear and that you can re-watch it a hundred times and still enjoy it – not only are the jokes more grounded in it, but the characters are so normal and relaxed in their own skin that you can’t help but feel there IS a group of friends out there that act like that.

    Comedy is so self-conscious now, which is sad.

    • http://screenplayamonth.tumblr.com FilmingEJ

      Eh, I think Arrested Development and 30 Rock are sharper, but Modern Family is definitely up there.

  • Exponent5

    I haven’t been able to get past the premise yet. Being held captive for 15 years underground by a cult is….FUNNY? In what universe??

    • Exponent5

      What’s next? Hugh Jackman to star in PRISONERS: THE MUSICAL?

      • Casper Chris

        Or maybe a comedy about superpowers on the brink of nuclear holocaust.

        Oh wait, that was actually pretty funny.

    • Exponent5

      “Fey and Carlock clearly got this idea from the Ariel Castro kidnappings. They had to change the backstory so as not to make it offensive..”
      And they failed miserably. NBC even cast an actress who resembles the victims. How grotesque. And to mock the hero who saved them?? Bizarre. I hope this gets all the backlash in the media it deserves if it ever airs. Fey must have left her brain at the door. Something like this I would expect from the vile Sarah Silverman, not Tina Fey. They’ll be lucky if the victims don’t sue them to the moon.

    • CJ

      To your point, I thought there was this big concerted effort to overcome the “rape culture” of comedy (which some people viewed Tosh’s on-stage rape joke as a flashpoint) yet here’s an entire show based on a premise such as this? Even if the show bends over backwards to say it was a “non-rape” dungeon, in real life, we all know what happened to the girls and women held in such places. It’s too close to reality as another poster said.
      Couldn’t the character just be a runaway Amish woman?

      • Exponent5

        ‘Zactly. Fish-out-o-water is fine, this just ain’t it. And it’s so soon in relation to the actual events it is just astoundingly tasteless.

        • Randy Williams

          Joan Rivers appeared on the “Today Show,” where she explained
          what it was like crashing in her daughter Melissa River’s guest room.

          “Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space,” she said.

          Joan lost a lecture touring job because of this remark. Matt Lauer went on to pitch it to Hollywood.

    • Nicholas J

      Obviously it’s not inherently funny. It’s all about execution. Anything can be funny.

      Ever watch any Patrice O’Neal standup? He does a joke about domestic abuse, and basically says that if a woman gets beat up by her husband it’s her fault. And it’s hilarious, because he’s a master of execution.

      Making a funny thing funny is easy. It takes a high level of unique talent to make the unfunny funny.

      Sometimes the best way to deal with dark aspects of life is to laugh at them.

      • Randy Williams

        I wouldn’t have a problem with this idea if it was a stage show.

        There is just something different about a live performance, that pact between audience and performer. A quiet integrity. People are allowed to laugh at the decadence of Nazi Germany and the threat of the Holocaust in Cabaret because of that pact.

        A sitcom is for spitting out your cereal funny. Try that in the theaaaater.

        • Nicholas J

          I agree with that. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. There’s definitely a place for darker comedy in the TV format. Not sure if NBC is that place, but I guess we’ll find out!

      • Exponent5

        Sure, sure. Funny like pedophilia – hilarious.

        • Nicholas J

          Repeat for emphasis. Obviously it’s not inherently funny. It’s all about execution.

          • Exponent5

            I am not of the school of thought that “execution” will fix what is wrong. There is objective truth – there is right and wrong. This is just….wrong.

          • JakeMLB

            To some degree that’s true but you still have to get your audience to buy into the premise. Even if the execution is brilliant, there will always be an inner pang that this just doesn’t feel right if the premise is too unrealistic. This happens in film all the time. You may enjoy the ride but the leaps of logic in the premise will eat away at you throughout the film. In reality, the chances that a survivor of this kind of torture would move to New York and fun and games would ensue is probably close to zero.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        “Sometimes the best way to deal with dark aspects of life is to laugh at them.”

        When those “dark aspects” happen to you, trust me, you’re not laughing. Not then, not later, not ever. And it’s not a matter of execution, either.

        • Nicholas J

          Obviously.

          But there are no limits to comedy outside of the ones you set for yourself. Some people don’t want to laugh at the darker side of life, that’s fine, but some people do.

          Victims of pedophilia aren’t going to laugh at a pedophile joke, so that means nobody should? Then where is the line drawn? We never get to laugh at something if there is a victim involved? What a depressing world that would make.

          Obligatory Mel Brooks: If I got a paper cut, that’s a tragedy. If you fell down an open manhole and died, that’s comedy.

        • Randy Williams

          As a writer you should be able to take your experiences and find everything from them, including the funny.

          I was mugged once at night, left for dead in the middle of a street with a stab wound to my chest. Luckily I didn’t get run over. No one cared to heed my cries and stop to help me.

          I can find some funny in that. One vehicle was a taxi. I screamed,
          Taxi!

          • Nicholas J

            Absolutely. And IMO that’s where some of the absolute greatest “entertainment” comes from, regardless if we are laughing or not. If you haven’t heard Tig Notaro’s already infamous set, you need to.

            http://www.npr.org/2013/07/26/205540155/tig-notaro-on-going-live-about-her-life

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            I’m glad you survived that horrendous experience and I mean that sincerely.

            As for writing about our own life experiences, even tragedy, what makes you think I don’t already do that ? Thing is, some experiences are so painful and lingering that it’s not only hard to write about but turning it into hilarious comedy ??

            There’s a French saying : “You can laugh about everything but not with everyone.” Maybe it all just comes down to each side respecting the other…

          • Randy Williams

            Thanks Marija.

            I think Nicholas nailed it. …” regardless if WE are laughing or not”
            Whatever avenue is best to express our pain, we have to find it. It might be comedy but we don’t have to laugh at it ourselves.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Indeed :)

            Personal pain does weird things to the human psyche and different people react in different ways. Some find laughter (or comedy, even the black kind) offensive whereas for others, it’s a way of dealing with what happened. I get that on a personal level. I was gonna add “But I don’t get it on this kind of level” except that horrible real life stories are being turned into movies all the time (serial killers, for instance). Also, human tragedy (even horror) has been a way of amusement since the dawn of time, no ? Didn’t people have quite a bit of fun in the Roman arenas when slaves were thrown to the lions ? :)

            This kind of voyeurism and exploitation is nothing new, granted. But as the internet would say in this case, “Too soon”… (Even before reading the whole article, I did a double take when I read “Comedy” and then the logline thinking I must have missed something)

          • Randy Williams

            Some friends have divulged to me while drunk and uninhibited, truly horrible things that have happened to them. They were never discussed again.

            In some drunken, uninhibited way, maybe this sitcom has a message we need to hear.

            Does Tina drink?

          • astranger2

            … that’s a very nice saying.

      • brenkilco

        O’Neal did a bit about the Natalie Holloway murder and another brutal murder committed by the same guy except that the routine was really about racism. It was hysterical, balls to the wall harsh but also true. Real comedy, which has an element of art and truth, can justify any subject matter.

      • filmklassik

        ” It takes a high level of unique talent to make the unfunny funny.”

        Well said. And I, alas, do not have that talent (or at least enough of it), but I admire greatly the ones that do.

    • Adam W. Parker

      Along that note is why I find “The Interview” movie coming up a bit touchy. A comedy about the assassination of a real life person is a bit much.

      You can’t violate the comedy principles of “too soon” or “too close” (unless criticizing those very principles)

      Chaplin’s “Great Dictator” did a ok job in bringing Nazism to the level of absurdity. Unless “The Interview” also gives the US it’s fair share of criticism, I only see it as a missed opportunity.

      • Exponent5

        Yeah, Rogen and Franco are not known for their good taste as anyone who saw “This is the End” can testify.

      • ripleyy

        I think “The Interview” is a different specie all together. The person they’re mocking isn’t even a nice person in the first place (he’s cruel), thus I think the comedy is warranted. If they made a comedy, in the same vein, with Mother Teresa instead of Kim Jong Un, then I can see your point.

        Also, there is nothing wrong with the “biting truth”. Comedy is about bringing light to situations, it’s why “observational comedy” is such a huge hit.. :)

        But with “Tooken”, yeah, there really isn’t anything about it that’s funny. There are lines, and I think this one went over it by a mile.

      • JakeMLB

        The Interview is pretty funny and the assassination aspect is barely an afterthought. It’s pretty self-aware which helps and as ripleyy pointed out, you can get away with a lot in terms of violence or crime when the target of said violence or crime is deserving. This kind of thing works with anti-heros or similar protagonists all the time. If the antagonist is a greater evil, you have a pretty long leash.

    • JakeMLB

      Agreed. This has to be the worst setup for a comedy script ever. As a drama, sure. But comedy?

  • Nicholas J

    The thing with comedy is, people think they want edgy, boundary-pushing comedy, but then when they get it, they don’t like it or think it isn’t funny.

    And that’s fine. I understand that you may not like a 10 minute sequence of jokeless, intense, heavy decision making that may come with dire consequences because someone’s life is in danger, but then it turns out to be one long elaborate setup to a fart joke. (Louie, “Pregnant”)

    I understand that a 5 minute scene of a guy telling his wife he wants a divorce where there isn’t a single joke said just makes you uncomfortable and isn’t funny. (Review with Forrest MacNeil, “Pancakes; Divorce; Pancakes”) IMHO it’s one of the funniest moments in television (followed directly by the funniest). But I get that type of comedy isn’t for everyone.

    And I’m not saying that to be elitist or condescending. Comedy is subjective. That’s one of the great/terrible things about it.

    My point is, don’t say comedy doesn’t push the boundaries of television enough just because you don’t like the result. Boundary pushing comedy is out there, you just have to look.

    Shows like Louie, Peep Show, Review, Girls, Always Sunny, Wilfred, Broad City are inventive, creative, edgy, and sometimes contradict what people think a “sitcom” is or isn’t or has to be.

    It even happens on the major networks. The Office‘s “Scott’s Tots” episode comes to mind. It plays within the rules of broadcast television, but still manages to make you feel uncomfortable for the majority of the episode, and actually has very few “jokes.” Episodes like that don’t happen often, and gradually get replaced by the more “feel good” ones, but that comes with the territory.

    Major networks don’t take chances because they can’t. Community and Arrested Development were both cancelled for a reason. It’s not that they weren’t good, it’s that these types of shows don’t draw the large audiences necessary for a successful network show.

    So for NBC to order a show straight to series that is a comedic take on something like the dark and tragic Ariel Castro kidnappings? Even if the pilot doesn’t end up being that great, you have to admit that’s a pretty big risk and certainly qualifies as unique television.

    • Exponent5

      Boundary pushing for boundary pushing’s sake never works. Fey and Carlock are obviously massively out of touch with reality, along with everyone at the network who greenlit this crap. It won’t play in Peoria, as they say. And rightfully so. Being repulsive or tasteless does not make one “unique.” It makes them not very smart.

      • Nicholas J

        Those are a lot of definitive statements for a show that hasn’t even aired yet.

        • Exponent5

          Can you see the network trying to promote this? The protests will start before it ever airs.

          • Nicholas J

            There will be literally dozens of people protesting this. I’m sure it will immediately put a stop to things.

    • garrett_h

      That’s what they went for. Kimmy is supposed to be optimistic, etc. And that’s all well and good. I just don’t think it makes for a good tv show. And maybe that’s the problem. I didn’t feel the execution was there at all. But what do I know? I’m posting on a message board while Fey and Carlock are in the NBC building.

      Maybe if it was funnier? If her character jumped off the page more? Had more going for her than just being a “Life is great!” cheerleader? If there was something deeper or relevant they were trying to say? Or if there were better supporting characters? Maybe then I’d be on board with it. Maybe.

      I could see this as a one-off CSI episode, and I don’t think many would object. But if you’re gonna take this story and turn it into a comedy, you better damn well nail it.

    • JakeMLB

      Controversy for controversy’s sake isn’t edgy, it’s lame. That’s not dark comedy, that’s trying too hard. Just because you can go do something doesn’t mean you should and there are plenty of ways to push boundaries without resorting to absurd premises.

      We can in fact judge a book by its cover because we’re discussing the premise of the show which for all intents and purposes is this book’s cover. None of the shows you cite or episodes or scenes are built upon similar premises. Not a single one. And that’s a very important distinction. It’s the underlying premise, that thing which establishes and defines the protagonist, that is reprehensible here. And it’s not reprehensible because it’s controversial, it’s reprehensible because it’s a) controversial and b) entirely unrealistic. Could this work as a dramedy? Sure. But as a straight-laced sitcom? Please. If it works it will have worked because of the execution and because the writers realized they needed to distance the show entirely from the premise.

      Imagine Delivery Man except Vince Vaughan raped 53 women and now must figure out whether or not to come forward because he needs a genetic donor for some rare disease. It’s edgy cause it’s rape right?

      • Nicholas J

        The shows I listed to do not have similar premises, but I didn’t say they did. They are shows that push the limits of what television comedy is and that’s why I listed them.

        If this show works it could be truly ground-breaking. The fact that it’s already causing this much controversy tells you that. And no, the controversy has nothing to do with the execution because few here have actually read the thing.

        And I can’t vouch for anything past the pilot, but so far it’s not edgy for edgy sake. Read it.

        • JakeMLB

          Fair enough. I haven’t read it.

          If it manages to play for satire and make some commentary then it might be successful… for what, one season?

          What is the staying power here? How is this premise going to sustain itself? There are only so many Matt Lauer jokes you can make. How are you going to player that premise for laughs in seasons 2 and 3. I just don’t see it. Are they going to flash back to the kidnapping and mine that for laughs? Or is it going to transition into New Girl: Rape Victim?

          • Nicholas J

            Lol, you make fair points and I can’t say I have answers. I didn’t make the show, I’m just defending the possibility of the premise. I’m very interested to see how it all plays out as I agree, I’m not sure how much longevity they can mine from the concept while still being satirical.

          • JakeMLB

            Yeah I can’t say I’m totally against it but it’s tough to mix satire with such a weighty premise without losing your audience’s care of the character. If you play the abduction stuff too much for jokes then it quickly invalidates the struggle of the character and we lose interest in her and her plight. I mean, even just a few jokes will invalidate these themes of being unbreakable and so on. If it’s all for laughs, we’ll quickly forget the reality of such abuse.

            I guess we’ll see how it plays out but I’m not even sure I’m interested!

  • Midnight Luck

    This is just….can’t find the exact right word….vile, tasteless, ridiculous, stupid, slimy, idiotic? I mean who thought it would be a good (and funny?) idea to use what happened with those girls and turn it into a prime time comedy? This is just mean spirited in its lack of thoughfullness or decency. To think this is cutting edge comedy because it is playing off a recent story? But it was about a bunch of girls being KIDNAPPED, DISAPPEARING for most of their lives and being RAPED, and they though “lets play off that, yeah now that’ll be funny?”.
    Just despicable.
    Unless i missed something.
    I mean i am a very open minded person, am not easily offended by almost anything, can see humor in things, but there are so many things about this which are just, well, wrong.

    • Nicholas J

      Do you find shows like Law & Order or CSI tasteless? How about The Wire? Breaking Bad? Shows like this use dark and disturbing real life happenings as the basis for our entertainment. How is that different?

      • LiberalSkewer_SCPatriot

        Could be that the 4 shows mentioned are all crime-based DRAMAS, not comedies – and that in the case of the first two, the “ripped from the headlines” potential Ariel Castro storyline would likely last all of one episode, not serve as the basis for the main character’s backstory/motivation throughout the entire series. And whilst you retort that Ms. Hargitay’s character has a similar backstory, it still does not derive in a show that is aiming for laughs.

      • ripleyy

        The difference is, is that those shows aren’t meant to be taken seriously and no one, watching them, views them seriously. True, I can see your point (some entertainment is based off horrible things) but the biggest reason why your argument is faulty is because it’s just that – it’s entertainment. Horror is entertainment because it’s based on our deepest fears. CSI, The Wire and Law and Order are based on crime that happen, true, but the chances of the deaths on CSI happening are so unlikely that people watching them know they’re safe from being in the situation the characters are in.

        • Nicholas J

          Not sure what you are saying here. Comedies are meant to be taken seriously and shows like The Wire are not?

          • ripleyy

            I’m saying shows like “CSI”, “The Wire” and “Law and Order” are all crime shows, thus they’re written as such. They are based on real-life murders that happen often (CSI, less so and while we’re on the subject, no one in the world has died in murders represented in “Hannibal”), but those shows aren’t meant to be taken seriously.

            No one has ever watched a comedy seriously. It’s a contradiction. We watch comedies to laugh, not to watch them with serious intent.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        While I do not agree that this premise is automatically vile, tasteless, etc. – it’s a far cry to compare the comedy treatment to the drama treatment. Nobody laughs at Breaking Bad (I mean, sure, there are moments, but not in general, and especially not toward the end). Breaking Bad doesn’t play any of its tragedy for jokes. It IS entertainment, but only because it is cathartic, and it is cathartic because it is well-executed drama. Horror can be cathartic, and yet repulsive at the same time. Entertainment can’t all be judged on the same level.

        That said, I’m one of those people who believes pretty much anything has the potential to be the subject of a joke or comedy. Louis CK has made successfully funny rape jokes – a topic that many consider off-limits. So I don’t think this is automatically in poor-taste, but it does sound like it has an uphill climb….

        • ripleyy

          I have to agree about your Breaking Bad bit. Including humour is far different than writing a comedy. There are many shows that are “dark” but have the odd lightness in it to make you laugh. Humour is a successful way to relieve tension in a scene, so in Breaking Bad, there are pieces of funny moments scattered through it, but its there to relieve the show of the tension. Some shows don’t use it, which is also fine. “Seven” has no pieces of humour in it at all and that works in its favour.

        • Nicholas J

          it’s a far cry to compare the comedy treatment to the drama treatment

          Why? Just because we are laughing?

          You see, it IS the same.

          They are taking the dark aspects of life and giving them the story treatment for our entertainment. Why does it matter if we are laughing or crying or screaming?

          Comedy can be tasteless just like drama or horror can be tasteless. But no matter the subject matter, they can all be done in good taste, and here’s the key:

          As long as the creators are digging deep down into the subject matter and finding truth.

          You may think a comedy about the Holocaust sounds tasteless. Now watch Life is Beautiful. There are parts in that movie where I was both laughing and crying at the same time because of how funny and tragic it all was. Genius bit of filmmaking.

          Look at nearly any Louis CK joke these days. The subject matter that he breaches, in the hands of a lesser comedian, would come of completely distasteful. So why is he highly regarded as the greatest working comedian? I’ve just told you why.

          Drama and comedy are part of the same tree.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            I agree with that, that’s why I said that I don’t think anything is inherently off-limits, or automatically tasteless, etc.

            My point is that the APPROACH of shows like CSI or Law & Order is completely different from a comedy. This is a half-hour comedy pilot. Sure, both drama or comedy could work. But, we’re far more optimistic when it comes to a subject matter such as this in a drama, because its a much finer balancing act in a comedy.

            There IS a difference between the two; a big one. You cannot approach them the same.

            That’s why people are more cautious about this, because it would take a genius like Louis CK – one of the few comedians who can do a tasteful rape joke, for example – to pull it off…. as opposed to a much greater number of writers who could tastefully do it in a drama.

            I wasn’t saying anything was off-limits, I wasn’t saying this was in bad taste. I have no idea, and I won’t jump to conclusions. But, since the approach is different (I think that’s rather undeniable), I therefore believe it’s unfair to compare the two.

            I think some of my favorite movies out there are dark comedies. Usually such films find comedy in murder or death, which many people justify as okay (above say, rape) because death is something that everyone will eventually experience. It’s universal. But there are some great dark comedies about other topics, imo – Bobcat Goldthwait’s “World’s Greatest Dad” makes comedy out of teen “suicide”/accidental death (both of them, actually). That movie is effin’ hilarious, I think. But I do know some people who find it in poor taste.

            Some dark comedies have had child murder in them. “In Bruges” comes to mind. I know several film-lovers who are parents who couldn’t watch that film because of that. I think it’s downright funny as hell.

            South Park makes comedy out of just about everything.

            So I’m the last person that would say it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be tried.

            I’m just saying that drama and comedy are approached differently, especially with delicate subject matters. That’s all.

          • Nicholas J

            You don’t have to defend your taste, I get you like darker stuff.

            And yes, it takes rare talent to exploit a concept like this one properly.

            I still think my point holds true, though, in that there is very little difference in the approach to comedy as there is drama.

            People are always amazed when an actor like Jim Carrey plays a dramatic role and nails it. How did he transition from comedy to drama so perfectly? Because they are both so similar. He’s really not doing anything different when he plays Lloyd Christmas than when he plays Truman. He’s still playing each of them truthfully. They both believe in what they are doing. It’s just a different character.

            The only real difference, I think, is that great comedy is harder. You have to do all the same things a drama does, but you have to make it funny. Making the Holocaust into a compelling drama is hard, but at least it’s already dramatic for you to work with. Now try making it a comedy. That’s why I think while Schindler’s List was phenomenal, Life is Beautiful was a larger triumph.

            Agree to disagree I suppose.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Totally agree re: comedy actors turning to dramatic roles. I’ve always said comedy roles are HARDER than dramatic roles, in general. They don’t get enough respect. Physical comedy, timing, all of that, it’s so fuckin’ hard.

            Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Life is Beautiful, but agree to disagree on that one ;-)

          • Nicholas J

            Really? Oh man. The opening isn’t anything great, but I think there’s some truly amazing stuff in that film. Here’s one of my favorite scenes. There’s comedy and sadness, heart and heartache, joy and tragedy, all in one scene, not to mention a beautiful reflection of the film’s theme. If I could ever write something half this good I’d be happy. (If you don’t remember, the little boy is his son and they’re in a concentration camp.)

      • Exponent5

        Yes, I think the fact that such material is what passes for “entertainment” in present society is an indicator of how far our culture has fallen. It’s pretty disgraceful and this material would have been seen as entirely evil about 50 years ago. This is not a sign of progress, if that is what you are suggesting.

        • Nicholas J

          Yeah, they had much better standards for what was culturally acceptable 50 years ago. Let’s use that as a barometer for our current society. I mean really, who needs stuff like gender and racial equality, am I right?

          I got an idea for a show. It’s about this successful businessman. He’s smart, handsome, what every guy wants to be. And here’s the concept — his wife is his slave! He can tell her to do whatever he wants and she can’t say no. Do the dishes? Done! Clean the kitchen? Done! Make me a turkey pot pie! No questions asked, now get to work, slave! Oh, and she’s hot. Like SUPER HOT. And here’s the best part. He keeps her in a bottle. Yup. A fucking bottle. He’s got a hot blonde sex slave woman to do all the chores for him anytime he wants. And if she acts out? Back in the bottle!

          I’ll call it I Dream of Jeannie.

          Now that’s progress.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Hahahahaha.

            Great response.

            Yeah, I’m definitely not looking to the 50s or 60s as a time of exceptional moral standards – both in media and in society in general.

            Personally, I find that these shows “passing for entertainment” is an indicator of progress. It’s nice to, you know, actually have something that portrays the ugliness of this world too, rather than whitewashing or ignoring it. With or without Breaking Bad, meth would still be made, people would still buy and sell it, and people would still die over it.

            All you need to do to see the 50s/60s as, well, not the greatest time of upstanding societal values is watch Mad Men. I’m sure women loooooved being treated like that.

          • Exponent5

            A man asking his woman to make a pot pie doesn’t offend me. True crime depicted as “funny” offends me. You are making a nonsensical argument here. The standards of decency have fallen precipitously low. Don’t try and disguise that with feminism. There is nothing “edifying” in the graphic depiction of crime, nor in trying to make it humorous.

          • witwoud

            Oh … I thought you were talking about 50 Shades of Grey. Never mind. Yeah, progress. :)

        • Randy Williams

          Dude, I find the whole idea as creepy as you do. But this show isn’t an indicator of how far our culture has fallen. It’s an indicator that they’ve run out of ideas.
          That’s where WE come in. Lucky for us.

          • Casper Chris

            Dudette…

          • Randy Williams

            I used “dude” there in an ethereal, universal camaraderie kind of way. Like “bitch.”

      • garrett_h

        I get your point. But you’re doing your argument a disservice by mentioning Dramas and two fo the best shows of all-time.

        Also, I’ve read the pilot. It’s a sitcom. Played for laughs. There are no “touching” or “teachable” moments, or anything pointing out social injustice and the like. You see those moments in Breaking Bad and The Wire. This was a straight up sitcom.

        Name me one sitcom that has done this successfully. Ripping a tragedy from the headlines almost wholesale, and making a successful, funny show. I guess you could argue for MASH, but I wouldn’t put it in the same category as this.

        • Nicholas J

          You haven’t read it close enough. This is not a straight up sitcom, and it does precisely all the things that you claim it doesn’t. Here’s a specific example:

          Page 7. The Matt Lauer interview is over. Matt Lauer’s dialogue: “When we come back, fall salad mistakes, plus one of the Mole Women gets an ambush makeover.”

          Cut to the made-over Mole Women being pushed out of 30 Rock Plaza while a Today Show PA hands them gift bags and says “Thank you victims. Good luck, thank you, victims.”

          Don’t you see what they are doing here? They are lampooning the fact that these light fluff shows like the Today Show exploit tragedies like this for entertainment. They air a 5 minute segment, act like everyone is so concerned with helping these women, give them parting gifts or a fat check, and shove them out the door. Watch 5 minutes of Ellen or any show like it and you’ll see this.

          That to me is biting and hysterical social commentary. Add to that the fact that this is on NBC, which is the very station that airs the Today Show?! That is Simpsons-level making fun of FOX.

          And the fact that sitcoms don’t do this is exactly what makes this so great. Movies do it all the time. Stand up comics. South Park. Sketch shows. This is one area where the television sitcom is extremely lacking.

          This show IS the change in sitcoms that television needs.

          • garrett_h

            It’s been a while since I read it. I’ve browsed over it today after the review. The first act of the script was my favorite, and easily the best part IMO. I liked the Lauer stuff.

            After that? It’s her at a club doing 90’s dance moves. Titus acting crazy. Lame “I’ve been gone X years, I don’t know what has happened in the world” jokes that we’ve seen before.

            The biting social commentary was gone. Maybe I just don’t remember it? But I didn’t get the feeling that it was going to be a major part of the show. It was only set-up. But who knows what they’ll do with it.

            I think it’d be a lot better if they kept the victims (survivors? lol) together. Then there’d be more opportunities to make a statement and delve into serious issues. I just don’t see it coming out of the Kimmy and Titus bromance.

          • Nicholas J

            It’ll definitely be interesting to see how it plays out. I can see NBC wanting to pull back on a lot of stuff and that hurting the show. Much of the success of South Park is the fact that they can pretty much do whatever they want. If you’re trying to make deep social commentary like that, you can’t really hold back or the effect won’t be as strong and clear. I can’t wait to see if it succeeds or not.

      • Midnight Luck

        Different argument you are trying to make.

        You seem to have decided this topic is your moral ground and you have a lot to say about it. The things most disturbing about what happened with these girls is that all the neighbors interviewed said they were shocked because the guy who did it was so “normal”. I know to you that may seem oh so cliche and all, and that the whole thing screams of needing to be made fun of, but i vehemently disagree. The nature of the crimes, the fact it is so recent. The heroism of the gentleman who DID SOMETHING and HELPED the girl, when most look the other way. What about Rape, Abuse, Abduction, violence of these girls has any purpose in being turned into a comedy?

        I love dark and disturbing movies. SEVEN is an all time favorite. But this is so different it is disturbing that someone wouldn’t know the difference. Hell, i dont know anything about you. Maybe you are desperately trying to protect your own moral failings and to your neighbors you seem like a nice guy, but really you cut women into pieces and serve them to your 100 cats in the basement. So all your arguing about how viable and ok this is stems from your need to believe what you are doing is ok.

        Also, based on your logic, a few months after 9/11 happened they should have made a FRIENDS type show where everyone lived in the S tower and mixed in with their dating hijinx we could have laughed as they all burned to death, jumped to their death from the windows. That is hilarious shit! Or we could have followed teams of firefighters as they climbed the stairs of the towers only to then (with laugh track!) Roll with laughter as hilarity ensues when they burn alive on the stairs and get crushed to death when the towers pummel them. Who doesn’t love firefighters and laughing with them through death hardship and trauma? Its a gas! A comedy routine about the “let’s Role” guy aboard Flight 93. We could have made fun of this guy people considered a hero by delving into his homosexual tendencies and how he abused his wife and kids, but funny! As you say, it’s all in the execution.

        Seriously, you cannot say ANYONE would’ve been OK with turning 9/11 into a comedy. Especially soon after it happened, hell even now some 13 years later i don’t think anyone could get a comedy made about any of it.
        What happened with these girls is the same. Bad, Bad taste.

        • Nicholas J

          I’m simply saying that comedy and drama are related and both can be done tasteless or tasteful.

          As long as you have something to say and are using the dark premise to bring to light ugly parts of life and providing solutions or ways to cope with tragedy, or even to construct a cautionary tale, then it is done in good taste, regardless if it’s a comedy or horror or thriller or drama.

          What you have described is off-color comedy for the sake of being off-color comedy. It is nothing like the goal of this script and is obviously offensive. I am not defending that in the least. If you think that, you’ve missed the point of my posts entirely or I just haven’t been clear enough.

          You are comparing apples to oranges, criticizing a script you haven’t read, and putting words in my mouth.

          And what do my extracurricular activities of feeding strangers to cats have anything to do with it? (But more importantly, how did you know that I do that?!)

          • Midnight Luck

            No, i really do understand all your points, and i agree with the ones you just made in the comment above^^^, but some of the, at least earlier, posts you made make it sound like you had no idea there might be something offensive about making fun of this incident. I still think this is a terrible story to try to make a comedy around. I agree that parts of it could be funny based on poking fun at SOCIETY and TV and the stupidity and absurdity surrounding them and the ways in which people respond to things. But they should really choose a different base topic. This just seems a terrible choice of true story to begin it all with.

          • kenglo

            Okay…who has the script? You guys (Midnight and Nicholas) have had a debate well worth noting! Now I just want to read the script to see what all the fuss is about!

            glover_13000@yahoo.com

          • kenglo

            Thanks NicholasJ !!!

          • Midnight Luck

            Also i disagree about my stories being different and off color for off color sake. By your rational building a story based on these raped abused and kidnapped girls has merit because it is Tina Fey or done in a way thata, what? respects or lifts up the victims? Whereas my quick 9/11 stories are absurd? Who decides which ones are ok and which are just in bad taste? Thebidea behind this show is over the top for over the top sake, just like what you are arguing mine are.

            In the end this one just sounds like a poor idea all around.

            (And by the way Midnight can see all. Those cats are getting way too wild. They’ve got you wrapped around their little claws)

          • Nicholas J

            Because there’s no point to the madness you’ve created in the above 9/11 scenarios.

            I think Tooken is a great concept. There is a cohesive theme to it all, and I found the pilot very uplifting.

            Kimmy is a girl that has been through some of the absolute worst horrors a person can realistically experience. Yet she always remains optimistic and strives to overcome her horrific past.

            The underlying theme here is moving on from tragedy and realizing that even though you’ve experienced the darkness of life, the only way to truly live on and defeat it is by hoping there are still good things out there worth living for. It’s a theme that is easily relatable and universal.

            And to me the premise rings true. Kimmy isn’t blind. She knows what she went through was horrible. She doesn’t find it easy to be optimistic about life. She struggles. She is out of her element. Everything she knows about life is wrong. She is stuck in this situation that by all means she should not survive. But at the end of the pilot, when she is left with a choice to go home and live a secluded life, to wallow around in self-pity because life gave her a shit hand, she chooses to instead muster up the courage to stay in NYC and try to truly live.

            This is also a concept that, though it may not seem like it, is ripe for insightful comedy and great social commentary.

            The Today Show exploiting the tragedy. The uppity women at the restaurant, complaining about life while Kimmy sits a seat away with actual problems. Kimmy’s childlike wonder with things as simple as the subway, something we all lose as we get older. The excitement she feels to actually be fortunate enough to have a safe roof over her head in an apartment that 95% of people would complain is too small.

            It’s funny, bittersweet, and incredibly sad. It makes jokes about tragedy, yes, but IMO it doesn’t take the subject matter lightly. It has something to say.

            That to me is a story with purpose, and not over the top for over the top sake. I sincerely think this show can be something great. I hope they don’t screw it up.

          • Midnight Luck

            And I appreciate that, especially since I understand the acute tragedies in many ways. I like what they are doing with all those things, and what she is doing and how she responds to it.

            I just don’t think they should make it a blatant retelling about the girls who were abducted by Ariel Castro. That is unnecessary and tasteless. Just tell it a different way, and with a fictionalized story.

          • astranger2

            … I didn’t realize how passionate you were about this subject. Not that you shouldn’t be… but, unless I am missing something, why are you assuming this is about the Castro incident?

            This is Carson’s supposition, and unless I’ve missed it, as I am sometimes prone to do, the story is not directly correlated in many ways… it’s fiction… IF you are right, and it is that clear that they took Tooken from that incident… maybe you should rant and rage..

            … but, it’s like all great and not so-great fiction — a story based on supposedly factual accounts derived from rumored incidents by word-of-mouth bystander truths…

    • Randy Williams

      I thought you women might object more to the picture that Carson chose of Tina Fey. She looks nude.

      As much as I think her sitcom idea is whack, here she is on the set of it.

      This is a Hollywood player

      • Malibo Jackk

        Don’t mess with Fey.

    • astranger2

      I know, right? Someone posted here once… can’t remember who…

      ,,, a script based on the missing Malaysian jetliner might be interesting…

      A Lost-type film, where an eccentric Billionaire actually hijacks the plane, setting the passengers on his private island, where He plays God, and places them through Hunger Game activities all at his whim… ; )

  • garrett_h

    Read this during a TV Pilot binge earlier this year. I was trying to get myself ready to submit for the various TV writing Fellowships. At the time, my focus was comedy. But the more comedies I read, the less impressed I was. I changed my mind and decided to focus on dramas.

    The thing is, most of the jokes felt like the lowest common denominator. Like the first joke they came up with. All my research on TV writers room talked about how they’d pitch joke after joke after joke until they found the best one. Some writers are tasked with writing “alts”; basically locking yourself in a room and writing alternate jokes for every line in the show.

    Let’s use this as an example. The Auto-Tune Black Guy? Really? That’s lifted wholesale from the actual event. And what if this is around for 5, 6, 7 years? Will Auto-Tune videos still be popular? Suddenly your opening is dated, and you have to create a new one. Cheers had the same opening for how many years? Fresh Prince? Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan… Your intro is your calling card. Don’t use something with an expiration date, and try to be a little more clever than an Auto-Tune Ignorant Black Person.

    Carson is 100% correct about Titus. He’s the weakest character in the pilot. Her fellow captives were 100 times more interesting! I was actually hoping they’d all get a place together and try to make it in the big city as a team. But the other girls were gone after the first act. They were the best part! They had personality, conflicts with each other, I could see their flaws and how they could arc as characters. So I was pretty disappointed when they disappeared.

    The version I read was 37 pages and had a little addendum with possible episodes, arcs, etc. That was pretty interesting, and I can see what they’re TRYING to do. I just don’t feel like the execution is there.

    And yeah, I did cringe on more than a couple of occasions. To their credit, though, there was only one rape joke…

    [X] Wasn’t for me

  • Chris Rodgers

    There are tons of thriving comedy shows on cable: Archer, The League, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Eastbound & Down, Portlandia. If you’re talking about network television only, then yeah, comedy is suffering. But actually, so is drama and pretty much everything else. The networks aren’t making anything good.

  • cjob3

    Veep is great. Eastbound and Down was also awesome.

  • cjob3

    It seems to me they could have avoided the unpleasantness by just having these girls born into this weird cult. It’s that fact that they were abducted. When someone abducts a little girl- that’s pretty dark.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    Most people consider the Golden Age of drama television to be NOW, with its inception dating back to The Sopranos, through to The Wire, The Shield, and then most recently with shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, True Detective, etc. Primarily, the new Golden Age of TV came with the rise and popularity of TV anti-heroes (see most of the aforementioned shows). Will Breaking Bad be talked about in 50 years? I think, hell yes it will.

    Comedy TV has yet to change in such a similar way.

  • Randy Williams

    I”m not sure it’s seeped into the culture enough to do that. Can the random person on the street sing the theme song? Do we all know what a cement pond is?

    • guest

      Breaking Bad doesn’t have a singable theme song, nor should that be considered a key indicator of quality. Maybe for kid’s shows, which in the current culture, is essentially what Gilligan’s Island and Beverly Hill Billies are.

      That being said, as a 29 year old who doesn’t have time to indulge in everything media has ever outputted, I could NOT sing you the Beverly Hill Billies theme song. Nor did I understand the concrete pond reference. Nor do I feel deprived of culture by lacking this information.

      Think about this for a second, in a Hollywood where every half decent idea is recycled over and over again ad nauseam, there doesn’t seem to be a huge rush to remake these 1950-60 style sitcoms. They simply don’t connect with the culture the way they used to. Maybe as nostalgia, but even on that level I think most people now realize those shows weren’t an accurate representation of their time. They were entertaining wish fulfillment that the modern zeitgeist isn’t naive enough to buy into anymore.

      I think ‘The Twilight Zone’ will fare better. Because they did have many episodes that meant something and addressed the paranoia of the time. Also… a very memorable theme song.

  • Exponent5

    And may I just add that even the title itself – “Tooken” – appears to be mocking the VICTIMS. Doesn’t anyone remember that poor gal trying to speak after they were rescued and she was barely able to speak coherently? She had been beaten so badly, so frequently, that she has a severe speech impediment today. And so Fey is trying to suggest (by saying Tooken) that it was not really a big deal that they were taken? Or is it supposed to be some sly reference to Liam Neeson’s film Taken – about sex-trafficking of teenage girls, a real knee slapper – that makes her look witty? I really don’t get it.

    • Linkthis83

      I think they stole it from me from my comment to the Amateur Friday review of A LOT OF BLOOD (somebody had suggested that it needed a different title):

      1 – Dude, Where’s OUR car?
      2 – Recreation Hell
      3 – Mobile Homicide
      4 – Cousin Eddie’s Vacation
      5 – Squeals on Wheels
      6 – Kevin’s Lot
      7 – Jared’s Ladder
      8 – Life Sort of Goes On: Becca’s Nightmare
      9 – What if We Left Earlier?
      10 – Park and Recreational Vehicle: The Ron Swanson Story
      11 – The Camper: Cries of Convenience
      12 – It’s Her Problem
      13 – RV: You Haven’t Lived Til You’ve Been Killed in One

      EDIT: 14 – Tooken (the prequel to Taken)
      EDIT: 15 – Sinnerbago
      16 – Miles from Meth: The Saga of Jesse Pinkman
      17 – Lightyears from Home: The Darkside of the Scwartz

      http://scriptshadow.net/amateur-friday-a-lot-of-blood/#comments

  • Randy Williams

    This could be applied in one’s writing, whether comedy or otherwise. Making the “frame” interesting for the reader, avoiding water-downed improv. Good stuff.

  • Linkthis83

    Ummm…F*ck this bullshit.

    I have no idea where my moral compass lies at times. The Bed Intruder song cracked me up. I think I feel it’s okay to laugh at that because everybody was okay in that situation.

    However, when someone sent me the link to Dead Giveaway, I immediately thought “What the f*ck? Who thinks this is okay?” It doesn’t matter the social statement this guy makes. These woman have been held prisoner and raped for years. There’s no “opportunity” for some fun here. Not at all. And yet, someone thought it was a good idea to autotune it and the masses would agree.

    I cringe at the thought of being in the development meetings and hearing the phrase “You know what would be funny?” There are at least a billion other ways to make this premise believable and funny.

    1) Make it a family that went underground, like Doomsday Preppers, when Y2K was about to hit. And 15 years later, they’ve resurfaced. It’s that f*cking simple.

    Again, f*ck this bullshit. I’ll take my mainstream comedies without the childhood kidnappings. I don’t judge the people who will enjoy this show, because the fact that TLC exists and there is zero learning on it, is example enough. I judge those who think that this is the stuff that should be made and promoted as entertainment. The masses don’t put in the effort to decide. They either just do or don’t like something.

    (full disclosure, I still struggle to reconcile why South Park is good and Family Guy is bad. Although, I won’t all out defend South Park either. My dilemma, I think the Scott Tenorman episode is great, the one with the crack baby basketball league, f*ck you South Park. Not cool. And I get the hypocrisy)

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Oh man hahahaha, I couldn’t get enough of that crack baby basketball episode. Cracked me up, pun intended.

      I just don’t get offended by really anything, probably because nothing that bad has ever happened to me. I always admire the balls South Park has.

      (the difference between Scott Tenorman episode and crack baby basketball for you, at least I’m assuming, is that the Scott Tenorman episode is so utterly absurd it’s hard to take offense to it. Like there’s a situation no one has ever found themselves in. Making fun of crack babies though? I can see that being pretty mean. I’m just an asshole myself I guess ;-) )

      • Linkthis83

        The crack baby premise, I disliked. Cartman as the college recruiter I loved.

        I hope that it’s because it is utterly absurd. I mean, at the end Cartman feeds chili to kid with his dead parents ground up inside. I think it’s because it is absurd, but mostly that it’s not based on reality. Whereas, crack babies are very real. And so tragic. And for me, not a place where comedy exists. But that’s also me. Which is why I don’t attack people who do love it (or Family Guy). That’s why I’m not out protesting. I don’t think it’s acceptable, but I also recognize that my opinion isn’t the end-all-be-all.

        The backstory for the character for this show = weak fucking sauce. I’m okay with pre-judging it.

        And there aren’t any shortages of assholes, so if you’re an asshole because of your show choices, I can live with that. Ha.

    • witwoud

      “Make it a family that went underground…”

      Exactly, like in BLAST FROM THE PAST, in which Brendan Fraser is born in a nuclear bunker and emerges as an adult in the 1990s, with his 1950s values still intact. Cue fish-out-of-water mayhem.

      You have to wonder, when there were so many lighter options available, the makers of Tooken went with child-abduction. It’s a sitcom, for heaven’s sake. What were they trying to prove — how cool and edgy they are?

      • Linkthis83

        I completely forgot about that movie but the premise would still work. Not too many mainstream people going to be arguing that the premise is stolen from a movie.

        I have an audacious personality when it comes to story developing and I’d rather choose a different path than find the “thing” that makes this the premise to choose.

    • Nicholas J

      Make it a family that went underground, like Doomsday Preppers, when Y2K was about to hit. And 15 years later, they’ve resurfaced.

      So Blast From the Past the TV show? How empty.

      What untapped, grander life themes are you going to address with that premise, Link? What dark underbelly of our culture are you going to point out and lampoon?

      I know why you think South Park is good and Family Guy is bad. Family Guy is empty laughter. It’s funny, but says nothing. South Park brings to light real life things that happen, that people say, that people do, that we see all around us, but nobody has the fucking balls to bring up. It criticizes the things we do as a culture and says, “LOOK HOW RIDICULOUS THIS IS!!!!”

      The people that say South Park is distasteful are the ones that watch it and see episodes that make fun of gingers, but don’t look any deeper and try to understand what the show is actually trying to say about inequality.

      You see, in order to make fun of the stupid shit we do as a culture, you have to first point out the stupid shit we do as a culture. Sometimes that means going to dark places. And I get that it’s not for everyone, but nothing is. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

      I hear nonstop hating on shows like Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men because of how empty and stupid they are. Then, something comes along that has the possibility of being something great, something with teeth, something that just might SAY SOMETHING, and people act like it’s the worst thing ever before they even see a second of it.

      So go ahead and pitch your Blast from the Past TV show. I look forward to seeing it on CBS right after Sh*t My Dad Says.

      • witwoud

        What untapped, grander life themes are you going to address with that premise, Link? What dark underbelly of our culture are you going to point out and lampoon?

        Christ on a bike, since when was this the job of a sitcom?

        • Nicholas J

          Never, because it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. How do you expect to be ground-breaking if you don’t break new ground?

          • Linkthis83

            Based on your statements, you’d support the following:

            So I’ve got an idea for this hilarious new show. It’ll be the opportunity to show different paths of lives, but they didn’t actually happen. See, the premise is playing out the What If game. So, we have these babies that have been aborted, but what if they had been born. What lives would they have gone on to lead. You see, we’ll obviously dive into the reasons they were aborted because it will certainly influence their lives. So we’ll pretend that they were born and given up for adoption instead, and we’ll catch up with them 30 years later. It’ll be a fantastic dynamic. It’s called MIGHT’VE BEENS.

            We’ll explore through the characters the paths they’ve chosen and where they’ve landed in life. Some will show why we shouldn’t abort babies and others will show the possibility why it might’ve been a good choice. But in between, they’ll be dealing with their daily struggles of life. It’ll be so ground breaking (except for the fact that even myself will hate the fact that they were aborted babies and we’re simulating what their lives might’be been like).

            Just because it can be explored, doesn’t mean it should. You shouldn’t go mining for comedy just because you think no one else has looked for gold there. Some things, it’s okay to stay away from. As a purposeful choice.

          • Nicholas J

            If there are relatively untapped aspects of life to find gold in, why not try? Isn’t that how anything great comes about? By exploring new things? Making new discoveries? Pushing people toward change by bringing to light the uglier aspects of life that they might not have seen before?

            This show doesn’t seem to be about the incident. It’s more about the aftermath and how sometimes we exploit tragedy for our own entertainment. (And btw you can’t have satire without irony.) At least that’s what I gathered from limited info.

        • http://screenplayamonth.tumblr.com FilmingEJ

          I mean, Louie looks at a bunch of social and cultural issues. Of course, it’s all usually handled with taste, but C.K. definitely understands how to turn these dark, dark elements into dark comedy. I’m not saying every sitcom should start doing stuff like that, but just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t.

      • Linkthis83

        It’s only empty because you aren’t aligning yourself with the side of developing it. You’re not seeing the potential in this concept. To me, and things I find funny, going underground because of Y2K is comical to me.

        Also, and this is the primary point, I’m allowed to think this is a bullshit backstory. A weak backstory. A backstory that is inappropriate. Just because it’s entertainment doesn’t mean we SHOULD explore these avenues for comedy, it just means we can. And some will love it. I’m on the side that doesn’t think it should be done.

        I love perspective. So I put myself in the scenario of creating this background and I flat don’t like it. Any of it. And if you watch any interviews and read any stories on the Amanda Berry situation you learn that some things are okay to be left alone in the comedic world. If girls who went through that want to explore a comedic commentary on it, then I will support them. I probably still won’t find it funny.

        Why on earth do you think there this particular show should be speaking to a cult rapist culture of America? Why isn’t it okay just to be a show that makes people laugh without having a dark, tortured past.

        By your questioning of theme, the show Friends was lacking and needed the element that they were all drug addicts who were abused as children. Then it would’ve been funny AND a statement on life. Yet, it was still a statement on life because of the relatability to real life situations.

        I love this passionate crusade you are on to say “we can find humor in anything, we just have to be willing.” No sir, we don’t. Most comedians come from situations that are less than comedic. They’ve managed to turn their tragedy into the comedy. That’s also why they can transition to drama so well. When comedians decide to take other people’s tragedies and turn them into humor, then I can take issue with it. And in this particular case I do. And I’m also allowed.

        I gave one suggestion. Billions are possible. Also, personal preferences come into play. If you think you are justified in claiming something against me because I don’t support your side, that’s naive, man. I don’t feel bad because I fail to see the humor in “abducted girl meets big city” and hilarity ensues. If you enjoy that and the statement you think it makes. That’s your preference. It isn’t mine.

        EDIT: I also love Big Bang Theory. I don’t have to justify that. It makes me laugh. It entertains me. I enjoy it. You know, it’s intended purpose.

        • Nicholas J

          I get all of what you are saying. I am all for people having their own tastes. I like Big Bang Theory. I like Friends. But I also love shows that have something more to say.

          I agree that every show shouldn’t be dark and biting, but not every show should be light and fluffy. That’d be a drab TV landscape, and is what this new golden age of TV is trying to get away from.

          Your approach to this would make the show something else entirely. This show is aiming for something deeper, and making the concept into something gimmicky won’t accomplish that.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m mostly saying, I don’t like their backstory angle here for comedic purposes. That’s all. I dislike further that someone said “Yes, let’s do this.”

            I like some shows to be fun, and others to be challenging.

            Here’s an example that doesn’t ruin the movie for me. In THE PRINCESS BRIDE, Westley is the hero and love interest for Princess Buttercup. However, EVERYBODY conveniently skips over the fact that he’s a mass murderer. I missed it for years. I didn’t pick up on it until I truly started studying story and backstory for characters.

            He was the Dread Pirate Roberts for numerous years before returning. And the DPR leaves no survivors. So he’s been killing people for years, yet he is still the lovable hero of this fairy tale. Lol. I could never be okay with writing that, but i get why it exists. It makes the rest of the story so cool. So they just don’t focus on that part and only do it when it’s expositionally necessary and then shift focus elsewhere. It works. But he’s still a mass murderer/criminal and we root for him.

      • Linkthis83

        Oh yeah, I think I agree with your assessment of why I like SP and not FG.

        I’ve tried to watch it a couple of times, and just can’t. I disagree with the things they use as humor (similar to this concept here).

        Like the Christmas special where Stewie and Brian are filling in for Santa and kill the kids parents because they were discovered in the house. I also think it’s partly because of the animation. The Family Guy characters look more real than the South Park characters.

  • witwoud

    Issues of taste aside, what I don’t like about this character is that she is such an atypical person. Her defining feature is ‘kidnap survivor’. I find this hard to laugh at, not just because it’s crass, but also because this isn’t really an identifiable class of person. It’s a sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-class.

    In my opinion, all of the best sitcom characters are members of a recognisable social class or sub-class taken to comic extremes. When we laugh at Sheldon Cooper we are laughing at all nerds. When we laugh at Lesley Knope we are laughing at all bureaucrats. But in this case … when we are laughing at Kimmy, we are laughing at all kidnap survivors? Hmmmm…..

    Mind you, I haven’t watched it, or anything. ;)

    • Nicholas J

      It’s specific, but it taps into something universal as well. Who hasn’t been through a tragedy and had to return to life as if nothing happened?

      We don’t identify with Clarice Starling’s pursuit of a serial killer, but we do identify with pursuing something we believe in despite those who don’t think we can do it. We don’t identify with Luke Skywalker’s interstellar travels, but we do identify with having nowhere to turn and wanting to be part of something.

      • witwoud

        I’m talking about sitcoms, though. Okay, these probably have a ‘universal’ side to them too. We all suffer from anxiety, embarrassment, awkwardness, confusion, etc, so we can understand what the sitcom characters are going through. But sympathy isn’t really the point of comedy. Primarily, we are laughing at people, not feeling with them. When they howl with pain, we laugh.

        I think the reason I react so strongly against the idea of TOOKEN (not having seen it, ahem) is that the main character is the victim of a serious crime. Her misfortunes are entirely due to another person. I think that a comic universe comes with certain rules, and one of them, is that the crap that happens to people is mostly their own damned fault. The reason they suffer misfortune, is that they are blinking idiots. That’s funny. Introduce a woman who has been locked up in a cellar for twelve years, and it’s as if you’ve altered the laws of the universe itself, and the comedy stops working.

        But maybe they’ll be able to pull it off. Who knows? Hell, I’m even going to watch the damn thing now, when it comes out. :)

  • andyjaxfl

    Another reboot coming our way: Predator. Shane Black is involved, but I’d rather see him spend time making The Nice Guys instead.

    • Poe_Serling

      Yeah, I just saw that announcement, too. And the real cherry on top… it looks like the return of the ’80s duo Black & Dekker.

      Fred ‘Monster Squad’ Dekker is helping out with the screenwriting chores.

      **According to the article, Black is still actively developing his Doc Savage pic over at Sony.

  • ASAbrams

    The more I hear about this project, the more I think that this is a premise bait and switch. They are using what we would think is the premise as mere backstory, something to be mentioned once to set up that Kimmy is naive. Then they’ll barely mention it again. They gave her this whole deal with being in a cult because gay guy and naive girl in New York trying to find their dreams is boring and generic. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Poe_Serling

    The co-writer of this pilot is Robert Carlock. He’s the SNL writer behind one of the funniest skits ever on the show: “NPR’s Delicious Dish” featuring Alec Baldwin.

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

    “I’m married to you now. I go with you?” Welp, looks like Rachel Dratch will once again be in a Tina Fey project.

    • Midnight Luck

      i seriously could see those words coming out of her mouth, it sounds like her.

  • JakeMLB

    Well that was an unnecessarily angry reply to a post not even directed to you. Or are you so far up your own asshole that anything tangentially related is perceived as an affront on your genius?

    I think you made a lot of good points on secondary characters and on the Everyman. I was specifically speaking to leitskev’s post in that making a choice is not exactly a new way of thinking — and it was more in reference to characters who don’t change, nothing about Everyman or secondary characters as I think you’re both spot on. But apparently you too are illiterate. Sure it was a simplification and I missed the broader discussion but I don’t have hours of free time at my disposal.

    And I guess talking about writing on a blog about writing doesn’t meet your qualification of talking about writing. Silly me. Apparently you’re the arbiter of what gets written in a public forum but that would make you the constable now wouldn’t it?

    Thanks for the pep chat.

  • leitskev

    lol, and I’m psychotic. Love it!

  • Casper Chris

    Why are some people here losing their shit and acting like this was based on or inspired by the Ariel Castro case?

    All I see is ‘kidnapping’, ‘captivity’ and ‘cult leader’, neither of which has ever been off-limits for an entertainment show. I don’t see anything here suggesting this is about sex slaves or rape or Ariel Castro. And it seems like the three ingredients I mentioned are used as more of a set-up for a ‘brainwashed person meets the real world with an alternate worldview’ angle, not as a narrative focal point.

    Now, the timing for this show could’ve probably been better, but it’s only because some people are too sensitive and sees connections where there are none.

    Besides, I agree with Nicholas J that nothing is inherently off-limits for the medium of comedy. It’s all very dependent on the execution and the intentions behind it.

    Speaking of which, George Carlin, famous stand-up comedian, makes a point of this in his ‘rape’ routine. An entire comedic routine based on rape jokes. And people laughed. Hell, I laughed. It doesn’t mean that I, or the other people who laughed, condone rape in any way, shape or form.

    There are women who get incredibly sexually aroused, fantasizing about being raped. Hell, some are so turned on by it they will enact rape scenarios (role playing) with a sex partner-in-crime (I’m not making this up, ask any sexologist). However, it doesn’t mean that these women want to be raped in real life. In fact, it most likely NEVER means that. Are these women sick for being turned on by the idea of being raped? I don’t think so. Just like I don’t think a society cracking rape jokes is necessarily symptomatic of a depraved society or a society in decline. Our Western society has probably never been healthier than it is today.

    Of course, a joke, like anything, can be in poor taste (and yes, tastes differ), but I maintain that it has a lot to do with the context, timing, execution and intent of said joke. And the argument “you wouldn’t laugh had you experienced it on yourself” is horrible. While likely true as a self-contained statement, you can’t base a society around the feelings of traumatized people. Should we ban motor sports because a large segment of the population has been traumatized by motor accidents and thus fail to see how anyone could possibly find it within themselves to celebrate the speed demons on the track? Of course not.

    Now, given that so much is dependent on the execution and given the fact that you haven’t actually read or watched this show, try not to lose your shit prematurely, okay? Prejudice and narrow-mindedness are the real enemies.

  • Malibo Jackk

    OT
    Yeah… off topic again.
    Yeah, I know — What’s wrong with this guy? Can’t concentrate on anything? ADD?

    Hey, since we occasionally talk about screenwriting. And like today — television.
    Thought you might be interested in the June 20th edition of Entertainment Weekly
    and it’s feature — THE 50 BEST TV SCENES THIS YEAR.
    (Hard to believe the year flew by so fast.)

    If you can’t find it, you may want to head over to the library.
    Plop down that library card.

    SPOILER ALERT: Bet you can’t guess #1. Yeah, BREAKING BAD. And #2? GAME OF THRONES — that was easy. But how about #4? Yeah… TRUE DETECTIVE.
    Ok. You know everything.
    BIG DEAL.

    • Midnight Luck

      #3 must be The Bachelor, or Bachelorette, or The Kardashians, or some other Reality TV show crap, right? (are any of those even on?). I’ve never seen any of those, so no, none of them are something I have any interest in nor am I hoping for, but since you skipped over #3, I am intrigued as to what it was….

      • Malibo Jackk

        Was merely baiting the hook.
        It was one of these five:
        BATES MOTEL
        THE GOOD WIFE
        ORPHAN BLACK
        THE MAKING OF MOVIE 43
        PORTLANDIA

  • Franchise Blueprints

    I had to edit my post below because all the italics made it look like one continuous article posting.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Not sure if anyone mentioned this:
    Nova did a documentary a few year back — now available online.
    “Genie (Secret of The Wild Child)”

    A thirteen year old girl kept restrained for 10 years in a locked room by elderly parents.
    Left alone, never learned to talk or walk — found by child custody officials.
    (1970’s L.A.)

  • lesbiancannibal

    I very rarely use capitals on the internet but THANKS FOR THE MASSIVE WALKING DEAD SPOILER

  • kenglo

    Ola!! Sent! Sorry so late….