Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #853: Offensive Or Just Unfunny?

The show is about two men who are so desperate to find work disguise themselves as women to get jobs as sales reps for a pharmaceutical company. The LGBT groups saw the promotional material for the show and are demanding that it be banned before it's even aired because it will somehow make them the objects of scorn, if not violence by the yahoos of the world.

Now while I don't like the thought of banning any sort of media, even if it offends people, I do have to wonder why on Earth was the project green-lit in the first place.

I saw most of the same promotional materials, including clips of the show, that the offended groups saw, and I didn't see anything that would subject them to scorn or possible violence.

What I did see was evidence of a painfully unfunny show based on a flimsy premise that leaves the creators and the network responsible for it as objects of scorn and possible violence by fans of comedy. 

There are only 3 reasons why the ABC Network would put this show on the air...
1.  ABC hates people. 

Not LGBT people, but the whole of humanity in general. They want everyone within broadcast range of this show to suffer. Centuries from now aliens will come across the signals of this show bouncing through the cosmos and treat it as an act of war.

2. The creator of the show has incriminating stuff on top ABC Brass.  

Blackmail is definitely a possibility, though if I did have proper extortion material on the brass of a TV network, I would have at least tossed out a better premise. Like my idea for a sitcom about optimistic meth addicts called "Best Tweek Ever!"

3. ABC somehow thinks they can recreate the golden days of Bosom Buddies.  

For those of you too young to remember Bosom Buddies was the last time someone tried to use cross-dressing as the foundation of a sitcom.

It starred a young Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari as two guys struggling to make it in advertising who disguise themselves as women to get a spot in the women-only Susan B. Anthony Hotel after losing their apartment.  

Now the show did have a strong opening, mostly due to the appeal, chemistry, and improvisational skills of Hanks and Scolari. However the first season was cut short by labor troubles, and ratings plunged in the second season, ending the show pretty quickly. In 1984 the NBC network ended up owning the show and ran it as summer filler because Hanks had exploded as a movie star thanks to the success of Splash, and Peter Scolari's scene stealing work on the hit show Newhart. The reruns did very well for NBC, but since the stars had moved onto greener pasture any thoughts of reviving the show faded quicker than its original run.

Now even Bosom Buddies dropped the cross-dressing aspect of the show as quickly as they could in the second season. Having their secret revealed to their neighbors and them being granted permission to stay as the building's token men. They didn't try to prolong it any further because even the people behind Bosom Buddies knew it was a thin premise based on, according to legend, a misunderstanding during the pitch session that made the network brass think they were getting a TV ripoff re-imagining of Billy Wilder's cross-dressing comedy Some Like It Hot.

The premise is fitting for, at best, an episode of a sitcom, but not an entire sitcom.  The fact that no one at the network seems capable of seeing this says a lot more about the near-sightedness and piss-poor comedic instincts of ABC's management than any potential offense to the LGBT community.

Now the really sad part of this fiasco is that at the heart of this is a missed opportunity. If the pharmaceutical sales field is as female dominated as the show says it is, then you have a possible premise with legs.  Two guys from a normally male dominated sales field, like cars, get laid off and are hired to be the "tokens" in a sales department staffed and run almost exclusive by women.  The men suddenly find themselves the "minority" and are viewed by their new colleagues as incapable because of their gender.  Stories could come from interactions with their bosses, co-workers, customers, and clients.

That might have worked, but it's the sort of idea that isn't a rehash of a fairly vague memory so no network would touch it.


  1. I've always been sort of fascinated by shows featuring a plot concept that right out of the gate seem completely unsustainable. This is one, Cursed was another. Steven Weber from Wings was a guy who was, that's right, cursed. Bad things happened to him. Really, if the show had somehow been successful, where could you go with that idea year after year? Indeed, they dumped the whole premise of the show right quick and just renamed it The Weber Show. Sadly, it still went off the air almost immediately, as if it were...I don't know, jinxed or something.

    Even Twin Peaks seemed like showrunners Frost and Lynch never expected it to last long enough that they'd have to figure out themselves who killed Laura Palmer. As such the resolution was dragged out and dragged out, pissing fans off when the first season ended without wrapping the situation up. I always thought the final episode was an intentionally contemptuous FU to fans for still watching the show, since it ended on a number of cliffhangers that they never intended to resolve. They did make a subsequent movie, was a prequel.

  2. No the real reason in that in Furious D's hypothetical re-imagining is that the ex-auto sales guys are hired to sell to cougar doctors and gay doctors, as the equivalent of the females---with the expected flirting and more.