With this summer’s Steve Carell and Tina Fey’s “Date Night”, Jennifer Lopez’ “The Back-up Plan” and Alyssa Milano’s TV pilot “Romantically Challenged”, dating is a big topic. Not that I need to tell you this. Party Girl Plus One is all about dating. So what makes Party Girl Plus One different from these star studded movies and TV shows?
Well, before I get to that, let me share what LATime’s Patrick Goldstein had to say about “Date Night” which I think is relevant to the topic.
“Why did “Date Night’s” Tina Fey and Steve Carell go from great TV to a bad movie?” according to the LATimes article? “At some point over the past decade, nearly every wing of television, from the HBO and Showtime pay channels to basic cable outlets like TNT and USA all the way to the Big Four networks, has generated a host of memorable comedies and dramas. Theories abound for why the renaissance happened in the 2000s. For me, the most persuasive explanation is HBO envy. After all, after raising the bar so high with “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” it was HBO that was rewarded with a hugely loyal audience.”
“At first, some network chiefs bitterly complained that HBO was stealing viewers simply by offering them nudity and violence. But when cooler heads prevailed, the channel’s rivals realized that giving their show runners the same creative autonomy as the creators of HBO’s shows could translate into better ratings and a whole lot of media heat.”
Shifting from movies to TV or TV to movies in Carell and Fey’s case, Goldstein is on to something.
When I first started thinking about doing a series covering my dating diary, I paid a visit to the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. I wanted to know what attempts had been made on the topic of dating, the stars attached, networks associated and ultimately their demise.
What I found was a whole lot of network (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) attempts on the subject of dating: NBC – 2003 Alicia Silverstone and “Miss Matched”, CBS – 2006 Tom Cavanaugh and “Love Monkey”, FOX – 2008 Craig Bierko and “Rules for Starting Over”, not to mention ABC’s “Cupid”, the first attempt in 1998 with Jeremy Piven and second attempt in 2009 with Bobby Cannavale. And yet ABC is making a third attempt on the topic with “Romantically Challenged” which follows a 30-something man who is torn in between his needy best friend and new girlfriend.
Here’s the thing. I think ABC’s biggest challenge in trying to pull off another dating TV series is ABC itself. In that I mean, what it takes to tell the full uncensored, down and dirty stories on dating and intimacy cannot be done on network TV. We learned that by watching the success of HBO’s “Sex and the City” and Showtimes “The L Word”. You have to show the real life juices, smells and train wrecks of dating; not the fabricated witty banter that has only lived in the writers room. Sure the audience might laugh like the first time they hear a blonde joke, but it’s easily forgotten because it wasn’t relatable.
Juices, juices, intimate juices flowing through the characters, the series and the ratings. Which brings me full circle to what Goldstein hit upon in his article and why Party Girl Plus One is different than any of the other current series covering the topic of dating. When writers are given the freedom to write their series from their experiences, point of view and research and eliminate the censorship of a general audience network, what you get is true reality. True hits and a fully exposed comfort level that tells the audience, “You’re not alone.” And isn’t that what dating is all about anyways? Not being alone.