Two weeks ago, Brilliantly Canceled took us all the way back to that time two years ago when a twitter-based sitcom, $h*! My Dad Says, hit television. A few days later, the show’s creator, Justin Halpern (whose new show Surviving Jack premieres next season on Fox), reached out to me, and after assuring me that he didn’t want to kill me, provided some insight on the history of the show, multi-camera sitcoms, how to tell if your project is going south, and why it was canceled.
How did Shit My Dad Says go from twitter to TV?
When the twitter feed got popular I got a lot of incoming calls, but nobody was all that interested in turning it in to a TV show. I wasn't really thinking about it either. I was more interested in turning it into a book of short essays about growing up with my dad, and so I wrote a book proposal and when I finished the proposal my agent sent it around to publishing houses, and it was bought by Harper Collins. When that happened, the proposal got circulated around Hollywood as well, and then I started getting calls. I had been working for the last few years as a magazine writer and had sold a couple feature screenplays, but I had zero TV experience. My feature writing partner and I came up with a pitch, characters, and sold it to Warner Brothers, who sold it to CBS. There's a bunch of really boring shit that happened in between, but that's the gist.
Did you also submit a script? If so, how similar was the script to the show? One of the questions that always stuck in my mind was, how could they turn 140-characters into season of television? Was adapting the show difficult?
My writing partner and I wrote a very early draft of the script that was not similar to the pilot that was shot. It was more similar to one of the stories in the book, so it was much easier to adapt. The media really took to the narrative of "OMFG twitter to TV show fuckthatshowihateit." And I totally get it. I would have thought the same. And actually, that's what it ended up being. But the original script was an adaptation of a story in the book. But the book is a slower burn and pretty dark, and that doesn't mix well with a multi-cam primetime TV show. And probably, that script wasn't that great either. It was the first TV script I'd written, so I bet it sucked too, but just in a different way. Who knows, I will never re-read that fucker for reasons of self-preservation. READ MORE