Network television, by and large, isn’t good. The Big Four is responsible for something like 80+ hours of television a week, and I can count the number of good dramas on one hand (The Good Wife, Parenthood, Elementary, and maybe Persons of Interest. Also, Hannibal when it’s on). They do better with sitcoms, but even then, the best sitcoms are usually one of two things: They’re about families or, as Justin Halpern says, “25-35 year olds f**king while they try to figure out ‘who they are.” That pretty much sums up nearly every sitcom on network television.
But there’s a new one premiering this week that’s actually different.
It’s been pushed back a couple of times, and there’s not a tremendous amount of buzz about yet, but I have heard in the Twittersphere that this Friday’s Enlisted is the best new comedy of the entire television season. The show centers on Sgt. Pete Hill who, after a stint in Afghanistan, is stationed at a small military base in Florida to tackle the toughest job of them all: leading his dysfunctional brothers’ squad. Now, even if it’s not the best new sitcom, the reason why we should all watch and support it is because it, as Halpern explains, it dares to be different than every other sitcom (i.e., not about families of 25-35 year olds f**king), and its success could lead to more sitcoms that are different. Halpern ($#*! My Dad Says, Cougar Town, and this year’s midseason comedy, Surviving Jack), who is terrific, explains why Enlisted is the finger up the butt that network television needs.
He suggests that network television and its writers are like a middle-age couple that f*cks once a week, in the missionary position, and they’ve been doing it for so long, and are so afraid of doing something different, that that’s what they stick with.
Now, how did this couple end up only f**king each other the exact same way for thirty years? At some point, they probably tried something different and it really didn’t work out. Maybe he spanked her and she didn’t like it. Maybe she stuck her finger in his assh*le and he hated it. And because of a couple things they tried that didn’t work, they just went back to the same old thing that makes them fairly happy.
Writers would love to try and find new ways to pleasure a network, and to be honest, a network would love to be f**ked in amazing ways its never been f**ked before. The problem is, both parties get a little freaked out when they try something out that doesn’t work. So when development season comes, a writer might have a couple ideas they want to pitch, but if they’re choosing between sticking a finger in the network’s assh*le or f**king them missionary, well, the writer has to make a living and so they may err on the side of sunday night f**king. And I don’t begrudge them one bit. It’s tough to make a living in this business. You may be thinking “NAH UH THIS IS STUPID HBO MAKES SHOWS THAT ARE COOL AND INTERESTING.” They do. HBO will let you shove anything in their assh*le at least once if it seems fun. But the people doing that shoving are the biggest writers in the business. Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese, Judd Apatow, David Benioff, etc… Guess what? They’re pretty well set for cash, folks. And I applaud them for trying something different. And I applaud HBO for being a place where that’s possible. But TV networks have much bigger demands on them and aren’t subscription based, so they have to answer to advertisers. So the only way a network will do something crazy in bed, is if someone is fearless enough to do it, and surprisingly, what they did feels REAL good. Then maybe they next time they want to f**k, they’ll be like “Oh man, I liked it so much when you grabbed my balls and yanked on them, what if you poured hot wax on my nipples while you called me piece of shit?”
And that’s why, he says, you should watch Enlisted this Friday on Fox.
Almost two years ago I sat in Kevin Biegel’s (Scrubs) office and he pitched me his idea for Enlisted, and the first thing I thought was “They’ll never greenlight a comedy that takes place on a military base. I would have set it in an office.” That’s the kind of thinking that needs to end. So if you care about helping Network TV do something a little different, let Enlisted stick its finger in your assh*le this Friday night.
I’m game. I’ll give anything a try once, except butt plugs. I don’t want to watch any show that describes itself as the “butt plug” of network television.
Source: Justin Halpern