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The Thing About Making TV Shows Based On Twitter

By Gabe Delahaye / June 12, 2013 - 11:45 am

New day, same old Twitter feeds being adapted into television shits. Deadline reports that Darren Star, the man behind bringing Sex And The City to television now hopes to do the same thing with a Twitter feed written from the perspective of a child:

In 1998, Darren Star took a book based on newspaper columns by a female writer, Candace Bushnell, and turned it into a hit comedy series, HBO’s Sex And The City. Fifteen years later, as the Internet and social media have taken over newspapers, Star is looking to do the same with The Honest Toddler, a book by Bunmi Laditan based on her successful Twitter feed. Star will develop and executive produce the adaptation of The Honest Toddler, which was published last month by Simon and Shuster’s Scribner imprint, with Laditan and producers Clark Peterson and Dennis Erdman. The show, described as “a Modern Family from a toddler’s point of view,” is eyed for broadcast or cable.

Sure. It is literally no skin off of my back either way. That is why it is always funny when people get mad that someone in showbusiness buys a Twitter feed and tries to turn it into a TV show. Why? Why are you so upset? Are they going to force you to be on it and also to air it on the television network that you own? Somehow I think that the one person who will for sure come out of the ill-fated Twitter-to-TV adaptation experiment is you. You’re doing great! Anyways, whatever, but also, there is an actual problem with doing this, I think, just in terms of turning it into something anyone would actually want to watch:

Candace Bushnell, since that was an example that was used to show how this is the that of its time, wrote pages and pages about her experiences as a young, ambitious woman dating in New York. Whether or not these pages were any good is not for me to say because I never read them, and whether or not there were plenty of other young, ambitious women in New York who were just as deserving of television shows based on their life is for the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time to work out. The point, though, is that when you try to turn something into a TV show, it helps if that something already includes all of the things that you need: characters, a setting, a purpose. Again, I’m not saying that a lot of work didn’t go into turning a dating column into a successful show, but there were at least some useful ideas with which to begin.

With a Twitter feed, you basically have a handful of the one-liner jokes that will eventually make up the show’s snappy dialogue, many of which won’t make the final cut because some Harvard educated TV writer will come up with what, at least he or she thinks is a better line. And that’s it! You’re going to make a Modern Family style show from the perspective of the child? OK, but what does Twitter have to do with that at all? Because once you do start working on the TV show, even if you try to keep the Twitter at the core, whatever that even means, you’re going to start casting roles, hiring writers and directors, and turning it into something about as far removed from a Twitter account as you can possibly imagine.

That’s the weird thing when people complain about Twitter feeds being turned into shows is that it always seems like the complaint is mostly that THEIR Twitter feed didn’t get turned into a show rather than that perhaps NO Twitter feeds should be turned into shows in the first place. Turning a Twitter feed into a show is like turning the board game Battleship into a movie. Whoops! (I watched that movie over the weekend, by the way, and it is crazy how bad it is but in really surprising ways. Like, for example, did you know that the movie is super BORING?! Because it is! Nothing whatsoever happens for the first 45 minutes–45 MINUTES–which is basically a bad Top Gun rom-com centered around a microwave chicken burrito? Weird. Weird that that movie is bad, huh? Who would have suspected?!)

The counter-point example of a movie/TV show based off of almost nothing would be Pirates of the Carribean, which turned into a mess later but the first one was so fun and it just a theme ride at an amusement park. OK, sure. They tripped over a good one. And the other argument to be made is that if they’ve got an idea for a show inspired by Bunmi Laditan’s Twitter feed, then they should absolutely give Bunmi Laditan some money rather than just going ahead and making the show anyway and claiming that Twitter doesn’t count.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make is welcome to the world’s most boring community college and thank you so much for reading my senior thesis. (Image via TheConnectivist.)