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Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

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Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Old 02-16-11, 02:32 AM
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Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

This was posted on deadline and made me laugh (and sadly agree with most of what he says)
Have a confusing title

Come up with an unwieldy title that perhaps comes from the realm of psychology, so that the title of your show is almost instantly forgettable. For example, if you were to call the show Welcome Matt, an audience could immediately understand the concept: this must be a character named Matt and he must either be a welcoming person or stepped on. If you call a show Arrested Development it's confusing and sufficiently disorientating to guarantee that a wide audience never discovers the fruits of your labor.

Audiences love fast cars and exciting vehicles

So see if you can put in some heavy machinery like a stair-car, that isn't easily associated with speed or sex appeal.

Try to do too much for a 20-minute programme

If in your particular medium an audience is used to a simple plotline or maybe one or two stories, see if you can get eight in there, and find a way that they somehow intertwine. Also, it's important that you have a lot of anxiety when they don't intertwine, sufficient to deprive yourself of sleep so that you are miserable during the production of the show but then upon completion of the show, you're guaranteed to be miserable, because nobody will watch it.

Add a sprinkle of incest

They'll never admit it, but viewers love sex. In fact, they love any sort of titillation, with the exception of incest. So focus on that.

First impressions are everything

So if you can screw that up, you're made. With Arrested Development, we tried showing the deep disdain that connects a family. We wanted to hold up a mirror to American society. And, just as predicted, America looked away.

Don't be afraid to give characters the same names

Audiences tend to run from confusion. So a show, for instance, where one character is named George Michael, one character is named Michael, one character is named George and one character is named George Oscar (and perhaps another character is named Oscar), will be the kind of show you can almost guarantee people won't develop a fondness for.

Make easy jokes about minority groups

Whether they be Mexicans, Jews or homosexuals, any group can be dismissed with a few stereotypical cracks. At least, that's what we tried to do. And given their "lack of coming to the party", it seems we succeeded!

Squander iconic guest stars

As an example, Liza Minnelli has famously appealed to the homosexual audience. Note: it's very important to alienate the homosexual audience first, or they might "come to the party".

Don't bother with a laughter track

Audiences don't always know "when to laugh". By omitting a laugh track you can almost guarantee they'll never find out.

Audiences like nicely dressed characters. They also enjoy nudity

Split the difference by putting your character in a pair of cut-offs and call him a Never-Nude. Advanced: feel free to dip him in a vat of blue paint. That's a real turn-off.

Make a show for British sensibilities

And then show it in America.
Old 02-16-11, 07:22 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Very timely.



I love Arrested Development, but it's time to let it go already.
Old 02-16-11, 08:02 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Well he also just had another show cancelled.
Old 02-16-11, 08:07 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by JTH182 View Post
I love Arrested Development, but it's time to let it go already.
They are supposedly shooting the movie this year.
Old 02-16-11, 08:23 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

If he only recently wrote this, then it comes off as a little pathetic. I mean, Arrested Development was a great show and it's a shame it was canceled, but since then he has had two other shows that were, in my opinion, deservedly canceled.

Sit Down, Shut Up was just awful; it got a little better toward the end, but that was just because the beginning episodes were so bad that they'd make anything that came later look good. Running Wilde was, likewise, pretty bad. I gave it a shot, but found it terribly unfunny.

With Arrested Development I blame FOX and the viewers; with Sit Down, Shut Up and Running Wilde, which are conspicuously absent from his "guide," I blame him.
Old 02-16-11, 08:28 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

The second to last line is pretty telling. This dude's head seems pretty far up his own ass.
Old 02-16-11, 08:59 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

According to the post at deadline the piece was published by the Guardian as a tie-in with the UK premiere of AD.
Old 02-16-11, 09:04 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by Dragon Tattoo View Post
The second to last line is pretty telling. This dude's head seems pretty far up his own ass.
I have to agree. That paired with saying a show needs a laugh track. What about 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Raising Hope, My Name is Earl... shall I continue? This is just garbage. Written years too late to jive with contemporary television's landscape if it ought to have been written at all.
Old 02-16-11, 09:23 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Why is everyone taking a humor piece seriously?
Old 02-16-11, 09:34 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by rfduncan View Post
I have to agree. That paired with saying a show needs a laugh track. What about 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Raising Hope, My Name is Earl... shall I continue? This is just garbage. Written years too late to jive with contemporary television's landscape if it ought to have been written at all.
I'm not a fan of the article, it isn't funny enough.

That said, he has a point about laugh tracks.

Outside of Modern Family, non-laugh track shows have pitiful overall viewership.

Two and a Half Men - 14.5m
Mike and Molly - 13m
Big Bang Theory - 12.9m
How I Met Your Mother - 9.5m
...According to Jim made it how many seasons?

Modern Family - 13m
The Middle - 8.8m
The Office - 6.9m
Raising Hope - 6.78m
Parks and Recreation - 5.1m
30 Rock - 4.6m
Community - 3.8m
Old 02-16-11, 09:35 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

The show lasted three seasons. That's more than most sitcoms.
Old 02-16-11, 09:37 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

The cynicism is strong in this one.
Old 02-16-11, 11:39 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by kstublen View Post
If he only recently wrote this, then it comes off as a little pathetic. I mean, Arrested Development was a great show and it's a shame it was canceled, but since then he has had two other shows that were, in my opinion, deservedly canceled.

Sit Down, Shut Up was just awful; it got a little better toward the end, but that was just because the beginning episodes were so bad that they'd make anything that came later look good. Running Wilde was, likewise, pretty bad. I gave it a shot, but found it terribly unfunny.

With Arrested Development I blame FOX and the viewers; with Sit Down, Shut Up and Running Wilde, which are conspicuously absent from his "guide," I blame him.
Its looking more and more like Arrested Development was a fluke. Becasue the 2 shows Hurwitz has done since have been utterly dreadful.
Old 02-16-11, 11:41 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

I kind of liked Sit Down Shut Up after the initial rough batch of episodes
Old 02-16-11, 11:55 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

/\ I grew to like it, too. If they ever put them on DVD, I would buy them.
Old 02-16-11, 12:26 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by Drop View Post
Why is everyone taking a humor piece seriously?
Because he comes across like a crybaby. If this article was written right after Arrested Development was canceled, I'd get it, but it's many years later. Since then he's had more than one opportunity to produce a hit, but has consistently failed to deliver.
Old 02-16-11, 12:29 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by rfduncan View Post
I have to agree. That paired with saying a show needs a laugh track. What about 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Raising Hope, My Name is Earl... shall I continue? This is just garbage. Written years too late to jive with contemporary television's landscape if it ought to have been written at all.
But most of those shows came out after Arrested Development started. At the time laugh trackless sitcoms were much rarer than today.
Old 02-16-11, 01:29 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Which would be well and good, if the article was written when Arrested Development was canceled. But if it was written, as it seems, relatively recently, then the laugh track thing really holds no water since shows without laugh tracks are becoming the norm for non-CBS shows and haven't been canceled.

Not to mention FOX had Malcolm In The Middle, which didn't have a laugh track and lasted 7 seasons, and was on before and during Arrested Development's run. Titus was also on around the same time and didn't have a laugh track, but it was filmed in front of a live studio audience; it lasted 3 seasons and would have continued into a 4th had the producers not tried to interfere. Also, there was The Bernie Mac Show, which was on before and during Arrested Development's run, with no laugh track. I'm sure there were others as well.

So yeah, not having a laugh track wasn't even a nail in the coffin back then either.
Old 02-16-11, 01:37 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by kstublen View Post
With Arrested Development I blame FOX and the viewers
To be fair, FOX kept the show going 2 seasons longer than they "should" have. The show was costly and didn't draw enough viewers. I'm sure they've since turned a profit between syndication and DVD sales, but this is a rare case where the network (mostly) isn't to blame, IMO.

Anyway, while AD is probably my favorite show of all time, I think an AD movie is a terrible idea. They managed to capture lightning in a bottle for the 2 1/2 seasons it was on (the "Mr. F" storyline notwithstanding) and I think the chance of them striking that same chemistry is slim at best. Just let the show live with the legacy it's earned, rather than risk tarnishing it with a sub-par movie.
Old 02-16-11, 02:02 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by kstublen View Post
Which would be well and good, if the article was written when Arrested Development was canceled. But if it was written, as it seems, relatively recently, then the laugh track thing really holds no water since shows without laugh tracks are becoming the norm for non-CBS shows and haven't been canceled.

Not to mention FOX had Malcolm In The Middle, which didn't have a laugh track and lasted 7 seasons, and was on before and during Arrested Development's run. Titus was also on around the same time and didn't have a laugh track, but it was filmed in front of a live studio audience; it lasted 3 seasons and would have continued into a 4th had the producers not tried to interfere. Also, there was The Bernie Mac Show, which was on before and during Arrested Development's run, with no laugh track. I'm sure there were others as well.

So yeah, not having a laugh track wasn't even a nail in the coffin back then either.
What happened there? I remember thinking the show was pretty good and then, poof, it was gone.
Old 02-16-11, 02:13 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by arminius View Post
What happened there? I remember thinking the show was pretty good and then, poof, it was gone.
Cancellation
On a Sirius Radio Interview on Raw Dog 104, Christopher said the show got canceled due to an argument with executives.[citation needed] They wanted to split up Titus and Erin because the show Dharma & Greg had done similar. Upon Christopher's refusal, on-air promotion ceased and the show was soon canceled.[citation needed]

Revival
As of May 2010, Christopher Titus was reportedly in negotiations with the Fox network to start up a new series again, billed as a sequel of sorts to his first sitcom (and based on the comedy specials The 5th Annual End of the World Tour and Love is Evol). The series was confirmed to eventually be revived and will pick up eight years later with Titus divorced from Erin, Titus' father dead, and Titus dealing with his new normal girlfriend and her perfect family
Old 02-16-11, 09:34 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

This does come off without the explanation that it's part of marketing for the UK debut of AD like it is bitter and that it ignores his glaring failures. When it has been pointed out, however, that this is really just marketing, it loses all of that edge and comes off as mildly funny.
Old 02-16-11, 09:42 PM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Originally Posted by RichC2 View Post
Cancellation
On a Sirius Radio Interview on Raw Dog 104, Christopher said the show got canceled due to an argument with executives.[citation needed] They wanted to split up Titus and Erin because the show Dharma & Greg had done similar. Upon Christopher's refusal, on-air promotion ceased and the show was soon canceled.[citation needed]

Revival
As of May 2010, Christopher Titus was reportedly in negotiations with the Fox network to start up a new series again, billed as a sequel of sorts to his first sitcom (and based on the comedy specials The 5th Annual End of the World Tour and Love is Evol). The series was confirmed to eventually be revived and will pick up eight years later with Titus divorced from Erin, Titus' father dead, and Titus dealing with his new normal girlfriend and her perfect family
I actually hadn't heard that it was being revived, so thanks for posting that. No idea how that news flew under my radar. That's really incredible news too. I loved the show back during its initial run and have since watched it again a few times on DVD, and would welcome its return as a sequel of sorts. I wonder if Dave (Zack Ward) will still be around...really hope so. Some reports are saying Titus will have to deal with his ex-wife in the series, so hopefully they can get Cynthia Watros back if Erin is going to be a recurring character.

Last edited by kstublen; 02-16-11 at 09:53 PM.
Old 02-17-11, 01:47 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Make a show for British sensibilities

And then show it in America.
Fuck you too, Mitch.
Old 02-17-11, 07:14 AM
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Re: Mitch Hurwitz's Guide To Getting A Sitcom Cancelled

Right, Mitch. American fans are obviously too stupid to get your absolute genius. Only the Brits understand real comedy. I so hate that mentality, and pretty much guarantees that I will not bother to watch anything he produces, since I'm not smart enough for the material.

By the way, I thought Arrested Development was horribly unfunny. And it had nothing to do with the title.

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