‘Related,’ so much ado over nothing
Whew! Crisis upon crisis. Can you stand it?
October 18, 2005
The best thing about Friends, the late NBC sitcom, was the way the six main characters were given space to develop. Though the show often suffered from thin plots, the writers more than made up for it by deftly carving out each personality. As we came to know them we saw how they coped with setbacks, and their reactions were always plausibly within character.
So one would assume the WB’s new Related, produced by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman, would set out to deliver a cast of similarly well-defined characters.
It does not. What we get in their place is much screeching over the inconsequential. The four twentysomething Sorelli sisters come off as drama queens who can’t play a game of cards without a crisis breaking out.
The show, which late yesterday was switched from Wednesdays at 9 to Mondays at 9, is too eager to jump into the storytelling, and does so in a big way, leaping from faux crisis to faux crisis. In the first 15 minutes of the pilot alone, one sister deals with an unexpected pregnancy, one breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, another gets evicted, and the youngest changes her college major.
Several things are wrong. First, all these crises are all given the same weight, and it’s a heavy load. Though these events are far from earth-shaking, each sister reacts as if her world had ended. They cry and carry on as the camera zips quickly from one to the next.
But the bigger issue is that there’s no character development leading up to the flood of tears and moans. The writers never establish who these women are or why the audience should care.
Case in point: One day the youngest sister Rose (Laura Breckenridge) inexplicably switches her major from premed to experimental theater. The next she dyes her hair blue in an act of rebellion. The sisters react as though Rose has murdered the family dog. They berate her. She whines that she’s sick of always being the safe one.
What’s going on? Lord knows. Since we have no character development, we have no understanding of Rose or this thing that happened that’s caused her to suddenly rebel. We get only the emoting from the entire pack.
It’s fine for the kids on the WB’s One Tree Hill to act this way. They’re teenagers. But these are adults, and the hysterics create an artificiality that takes away from the show’s good qualities, such as Jennifer Esposito’s turn as the workaholic mom-to-be and guest star Dan Futterman as the frustrated boyfriend of second-oldest sister Annie (Kiele Sanchez).
This is the WB’s first show to aggressively target the older end of the 12-34 demo, and so perhaps some of the problems stem from that. The show steals equally from two shows women 18-34 adore, Friends and Sex and the City. From the former it takes the tight focus on an unhealthily co-dependent group, and from the latter it steals frothy music, a romanticized view of New York, and a very woman-centric focus.
Not surprisingly, SATC writer Liz Tucillo is a consultant on Related. But, constricted by broadcast’s decency standards, Related can’t be dirty or risky in its humor.
Related improves some after the frenetically paced pilot. In ensuing episodes the women digest and deal with the issues introduced the first week. Yet the characters still aren’t fully drawn. Lizzy Caplan, who plays second-youngest daughter Marjee, gets especially thin material, and it’s unclear why her character is such a mess.
Related aspires to be a dramedy, a bit of “Friends” and “Sex and the City,” but it succeeds at neither drama nor comedy, and it lacks the qualities of the shows it attempts to imitate. The wannabe funny bits are too forced, and the drama seems inconsequential.
The first two episodes have averaged a 1.3 in 12-34s, off 13 percent from last year’s timeslot occupant, the quickly canceled The Mountain. Unless these women pull themselves together in their new timeslot and quit whining, the same will happen to them.
After nearly 18 years, it’s time to say good-bye
Yet more evidence native advertising doesn’t work
A new type of cord-cutting: Snipping broadband
Coming, the collapse of radio’s iHeartMedia
Weeklies: Surviving if not thriving in digital age
Tweeter in chief: How Trump could save Twitter
Shows Trump hates are seeing big ad gains
Broadcast vs. cable: How the top shows stack up
A sign that coughs at your cigarette smoke
The word: Time Inc. sale is imminent
Rundown: Which advertisers have jumped from YouTube
Media Life’s Digital Media Transparency Initiative
HBO does hard time with Dwayne Johnson
- Arun Kumar becomes chief data and marketing tech officer at IPG
- Jenny Campbell rises to managing director at 72andSunny
- Adam Crandall becomes director of strategy at mono
- Mark Wildman rises to EVP of partnerships at Westwood One
- Kevin Craig rises to SVP of newspaper relations at AMG/Parade
- Bill Corvalan becomes VP of West Coast partnerships at AllOver Media
- Richard Just becomes editor at The Washington Post Magazine
- Gemma Lawson rises to VP and design director at Nickelodeon
- Ashley Judd joins Epix' 'Berlin Station'
- Former NBC ad sales executive Robert Blackmore dies at age 90
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This month’s digital traffic data: December 2016
Ad sales rep for a digital-only magazine
Freelance media planner/buyer available for all markets
Wanted: Media buyer in Philadelphia
Paid social media planner wanted in Detroit
Opening for a media planner at a top OOH agency