Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
January 26th, 2011 by Mere Smith

Pilot Season II

Continued from yesterday’s post…

Advice For Writers Working On Real People Shows (i.e., ones that don’t revolve around lawyers, doctors, or cops):

(Not that lawyers, doctors, and cops aren’t Real People, too, of course — but how often does the girl who works in the Gardening section at Home Depot regale you with the story about how she once rescued a male rape victim from the clutches of a murderous naked psychopath, before saving the victim’s life with a Bic-pen tracheotomy, then successfully suing the naked psycho for emotional distress, all without ruining her Dior pants-suit?)

Rule #1: Very few folks outside of Hollywood even know what the phrase “flyover state” means, so stop using it as a joke.  The only people who get this joke are the studio and network executives you’ve been kowtowing to for more than a year, simply because it makes them feel superior to share in your degrading lingo.  Here, from the depths of my heart, I offer you this boon: if you’ve already deposited the check for your script, you can officially stop licking their asses.

Corollary to Rule #1: Until you get greenlit.  Then the ass-licking’s back in full swing.  Brush early and often, and for God’s sake, don’t forget to floss.

Rule # 2: Not everyone from the South (and I can say this with impunity, having been raised there) is obese, drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon from the can, and talks like a traumatically brain-injured PG-rated Jeff Foxworthy.  Okay, so the first two things may be true, but some of us also talk like Rhett Butler, which means we see profanity as a lace doily made by Aunt Sue — pretty but essentially decorative.  Word to the wise?  “Sonuvabitch” doesn’t exist south of the Mason-Dixon.  “Sonna-a-got-damn-bitch” does.

Rule #3: Living in any city other than L.A. does not automatically require you to maintain enormously teased hair held in place with a scrunchie and a helmet of Aqua-Net.  In fact, I’m not even sure they make Aqua-Net anymore.  But then again, it’s possible I’ve been in L.A. too long, or that the Aqua-Net from my teenage years has traumatically brain-injured me.

Rule #4: Gay people live in Red States, too.  Not all of them get murdered.  Look it up, it’s true!

Rule #5: Blue-collar workers are just as proud of their jobs as you are.  Making them feel “ashamed” to “only” be working in a grocery store is your hang-up, Paco, not theirs.

Rule #6: Phoenix is not simply “Malibu, only hotter.”  Not everyone from Phoenix is wealthy.  Some folks even have… I know, brace yourselves… personal debt.  Or find themselves underwater on their mortgages.  Or — shriek! — wind up on welfare and food stamps.   Just because they endure temperatures that would strike anorexic starlets unconscious the moment they stepped out of their highly-chilled trailers does not make all Arizonans hardy pioneer types who succeed wildly on their own cunning entrepreneurial skills.  Some of them just wind up there, the way some Hollywood folks wind up in Whittier.  No one knows why.  It just happens.

Corollary to Rule #6: Also, not everyone in Arizona is a Minuteman, Tea-Partier, sheriff, or assault-rifle-toting right-winger.  The same applies for Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and all other states containing wide open swaths of land.  The ATF has, in fact, officially proven that the number of native prairie dogs in no way corresponds to firearms purchases.  Alaska may be an exception, but in my opinion, that has even less to do with prairie dogs (thin on the ground there, anyway) and more to do with people wanting to protect themselves from Sarah Palin.  Sure, right now it’s caribou on TLC… but in the future?  Has no one ever read “The Most Dangerous Game”?

In short, Hollywood People, maybe you could stop being so… so got-damn-mother-bitchin’ Hollywood about Real People.  Think about it!  You could even talk to some of them before you write the pilot!  And you just might find out what I already know: one of the best things about Real People is they’re not the least bit interested in licking your ass.

Hollywood could use a dose of those folks.