Ordinarily, I loathe a “Save Our Show” campaign.
With a crowded marketplace of programming, we simply can’t keep every show that people want to see, on air. And while it might feel cute or productive to mount hashtags or mail-in campaigns to let our favorite actors and showrunners know we’re behind them, the effort often feels wasted to me. However, as Shrink executive producer Chuck Martin shared last week, there are exceptions to every rule.
First time I've done a series and the network was cancelled. https://t.co/eiYsL9QZkL
— Chuck Martin (@MrChuckMartin) August 9, 2017
As Seeso, the NBCUniversal-sponsored streaming service for comedy, prepares to shut its doors, it has left several of its offerings in a strange limbo of sorts: not cancelled, but “homeless” in a sense. While shows like HarmonQuest, Hidden America with Jonah Ray, and My Brother, My Brother, and Me have already found a home on anime and comic-centric streaming service VRV, several others are still seeking new homes. Three Seeso originals in particular have inspired vigorous online “save our show” campaigns: extravagant realty spoof Bajillion Dollar Propertie$, romantic sitcom Take My Wife, and the layered therapy-centric Shrink. While I’m no realtor myself, I watch enough TV to have developed a feel for shows- therefore, I am offering myself as a “resettlement expert” of sorts. Most online pleas have “tagged” prospective networks en masse; I instead offer an analysis of where each show might fit best in our crowded marketplace of services and channels.
Bajillion Dollar Propertie$
Star Paul F. Tompkins and co-executive producer Scott Aukerman have been among the most vocal supporters of #Bajillion, retweeting fan pleas and press excerpts praising the show, which debuted its third season on Seeso earlier this summer. Created by Who Charted? Podcast co-host Kulap Vilaysack, Bajillion has a keen understanding of the genre it seeks to lampoon (the day-to-day lives of the real estate agents that sell outrageous homes), and does so while elevating the talent of sharp young comics and improvisers. Its fourth season is already in the can, making it an attractive pickup for any network that would have it.
Given its proximity to a similarly named program on Bravo, it’s unlikely that Bajillion would find a new home there. And while IFC could be a promising partner (given their relationship with Comedy Bang! Bang! Productions, which produces Bajillion), I’d love to see a repeat of a relationship built like this once before: with E! Networks. It was E! which gave a television home to Burning Love, an online series made for the now-defunct Yahoo! Screen. A parody of Bachelor/Bachelorette-style dating shows, it later bowed on E! for a brief run before finding a new life on Hulu.
I love the E! to Hulu solution for Bajillion because it affords viewers an opportunity to find this show via their cable packages. Similarly, E! has demonstrated an understanding of and appreciation for spoof and parody programming- plus, Vilaysack’s half hour there could give Ryan Seacrest and the Kardashians a breather.
Of the shows that have yet to be resettled, Shrink is the newest, but has garnered some of the most passionate feedback for its renewal. Created by Tim Baltz and Ted Tremper, it’s ten-episode first season takes us on the journey of an unplaced medical student (David) who creates his own internship in psychiatry, completing 1,920 hours of therapy for others from his parents’ garage. Shrink has received wide acclaim, not just for its quirky sense of humor and beautifully shot scenes, but also for the manner in which it portrays and handles mental illness. Some of the most fervent entries on the #SaveShrink hashtag have come from people struggling with the same issues as David’s patients, and appreciated that their journey was treated with humor…without being the butt of the joke.
As with Bajillion, I can absolutely see a home for Shrink on IFC. But I also see it being an interesting fit for Hulu, whose Casual feels spiritually similar: quietly, but deeply funny while handling difficult relationships and personal transformation. A third, somewhat offbeat option? TV Land. Their pivot toward a younger audience through original programming like Younger and the dearly departed Impastor feels like a move that could bring Shrink in with open arms. And as the home for The Jim Gaffigan Show, they’ve demonstrated their willingness and ability to work with comedians to execute on their vision.
Take My Wife
Of the presently displaced trio, Take My Wife has had the most visible support for continuation. It’s an easy pickup for reasons similar to Bajillion with a season 2 already in the can. And also like Bajillion, it highlights an exceptional way in which underrepresented creators can shine when provided ample support.
Co-created by stand up comics and Put Your Hands Together hosts Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher, TMW marks the first television show created by two queer women. Their desire for the show to be a springboard for other underrepresented creators was highlighted by Esposito shortly after the pickup efforts began:
The easy pick for TV networks to give Take My Wife a new home would be Logo, Viacom’s channel catering often to the LGBTQIA community. However, its themes and humor are so much wider than of those who created or star in the show, I’d love to instead see it on a channel like Pop TV or truTV. Each are channels which have grown their stable of comedy programming in the last few years. Given the audience that Esposito and Butcher have garnered from their stand up, working with networks that understand that sensibility would benefit their work.
It’s also worth noting that Take My Wife could find a welcoming home at Amazon Studios, which presently houses Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi and Jill Soloway’s gently funny and unequivocally queer Transparent. For Take My Wife to find a home there, where artists and creators are so clearly encouraged to pour themselves into their work, it’s materially different from a partnership with Logo because it integrates their perspective into a space where others perhaps not seeking their voices, could find and grow to enjoy them.
The loss of Seeso is a rough one for comedy fans and creators, especially for those who found their livelihood working under their umbrella. But with any luck, some of their best and most promising programs will be resettled quickly, and allow us to laugh with them again real soon.