Kids, Mockumentaries and TV

Since I said in a previous post that there should be more broadcast TV shows about kids or with large numbers of kids in the cast, I have to say that this sounds like a good idea. Not the one about growing up in the ’80s from the Breaking In creator. There are so many ’80s shows still regularly in reruns that a show set in the ’80s still seems like a drab idea. (That ’70s show came along when ’70s pop culture had mostly vanished except as nostalgia. The ’80s are almost there, but not quite.) No, I’m talking about the other one, by Will Gluck, which “presents the life lessons of elementary school as seen through the lens of an Office like documentary.” Though the ’80s comedy too is about a child, or the creator’s experiences as a child, so there is some indication that the networks are making a serious effort to look for this kind of project.

A show about kids is what a network needs, and the mockumentary format, as I’ve said many times, has the best track record of any single-camera format. (Plus the amount of freedom it gives you in the editing room is perfect for working with kids, whose performances often need to be carefully “assembled” from the best takes.) Deadline says ABC and NBC are the only ones bidding for this idea, but I wonder why Fox doesn’t do this – if not this particular idea (which might not be good), then something like it. Fox has had some of its biggest successes with kids, as I said before, and they haven’t really done a pure mockumentary comedy despite heavily influencing its U.S. form with Arrested Development.

Also, speaking of the Breaking In guy: have you noticed that Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva has written more about Breaking In than virtually any other show? I know Fox has gone back and forth on whether to cancel it or not, but it seems like there’s a Breaking In mention at Deadline, and hope for it, every other week. My un-educated guess is that someone from Sony is aggressively pushing it to reporters, trying to pressure Fox into bringing it back.

Also, for all I know, the ’80s throwback show might be a huge hit, and I can refer back to this post and note how wrong I was. For now, though, I feel like despite Hot Tub Time Machine, ’80s nostalgia on TV tends to wind up more like Glory Daze, That ’80s Show, and even Freaks & Geeks (a brilliant ’80s throwback show – I feel ashamed even mentioning it in the company of these others – but viewers didn’t want to re-live the ’80s the way Wonder Years viewers had wanted to re-live the ’60s).

Update: As noted by Anthony Strand in comments, I left out Everybody Hates Chris, which took place in the ’80s and managed a reasonably long run, as well as being one of the last mainstream network sitcoms that was told from a kid’s point of view. And I liked Everybody Hates Chris, so I shouldn’t have omitted it. More importantly, if a tale of growing up in the ’80s can work for Chris Rock, why not the creator of Deadline’s favourite show, Breaking In?

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