The Worst TV Premise Ever? - Macleans.ca
 

The Worst TV Premise Ever?


 

Okay, that’s an overstatement, and you never know what’s going to work, but this sure sounds terrible for all kinds of different, interlocking reasons:

ABC has added another one to the mix, greenlighting the comedy pilot “Wright vs. Wrong.”

Sitcom, from scribe Stephnie Weir (“Mad TV”), centers on a sexy, female conservative pundit and her staff.

Weir is exec producing along with Tantamount’s Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.

This sounds terrible because:

1) Modern Hollywood stories about politics always devolve into a childish longing for “centrist,” “middle-ground” politics. Even The West Wing wound up creating characters who couldn’t exist in real life — like Alan Alda’s Republican candidate in the final season — to fit the Hollywood belief that the only reason anybody disagrees is because we just don’t sit down and talk things out enough. The number of wishy-washy, can’t-we-all-just-get-along stories offered by this particular premise are almost endless.

2) The wacky punning title, and the fact that the lead character was only named “Wright” so they could make that title. This is a jinx even when the show is good, like The Powers That Be.

3) Mitch Hurwitz is producig, and his name on a show now guarantees failure. Which is not something we would have expected back in the Arrested Development days, but it does seem like that was the best thing he had in him — either that or he’s better at writing a show than producing someone else’s show (or remaking a foreign show, which a lot of his other flops have been).

4) It sounds like a conservative Murphy Brown, and that show doesn’t hold up anyway.

Now just sit back and watch as this terrible, doomed premise becomes next year’s biggest hit. I don’t think it will, but it might. That doesn’t stop me from shuddering a bit at ABC’s taste.


 
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The Worst TV Premise Ever?

  1. What if the lead member of her staff is a puggy, Asian, male named Dennis Wong who secretly harbours a socialist agenda? Change the title and voila …. it is worse!

  2. 1a. As a corollary to longing for "principled centrists," any Republican/conservative character who espouses identifiably conservative beliefs of any kind will also be a loathsome, foolish or hateful but always easily-toppled strawman, existing solely to pander to the prejudices of the writers and audience.

  3. a loathsome, foolish or hateful but always easily-toppled strawman,

    Does art mirror life, or life mirror art?

  4. The worst premise ever was BJ and The Bear.

    • Sorry did you say worst premise ever? And you didn't say The Flying Nun??

      • I bow to Mr. Coyne`s thoughtful analysis.

  5. But even that can work — look at Archie Bunker. He functions as a strawman in many, many episodes, and that draw a mass audience. It helps, I think that that show did not usually try to go for mushy "principled centrism," which nobody respects, and instead portrayed political arguments the way they mostly are — disagreements between conflicting worldviews.

    • It could be interesting if they work in the difference between conservative stage persona and real life. She could be all combative and stuff on the show where she has to play to a specific audience (like many conservative pundits) but be noticeably different in her character's other role.

      • So basically you want to make a show about Stephen Colbert.

    • The West Wing was the smuggest show in the history of smug, but even it tried in a clumsy but sincere way to give the conservatives an even break.

  6. Jaime, are you saying this show will be bad, or it's doomed, or it won't hold up? These are very different notions.

    • The thing is that this premise suggests a show that has a strong likelihood of being bad and/or doomed and/or dated before it starts. None of which means it absolutely will be, which is why I'm talking about a bad premise rather than a bad show (because who knows what a show will be like?).