TV | Inside TV

'Arrested Development' creator's tips on how to get a sitcom cancelled

Mitch Hurwitz gave the UK paper the Guardian a list of tips on how to get your sitcom cancelled. At least, that’s what the headline said. It was actually more like a list of reasons why Arrested Development was, in Hurwitz’s view, too sophisticated for most Americans. See if you agree, here’s a few from the story:

1. Add a sprinkle of incest: They’ll never admit it, but viewers love sex. In fact, they love any sort of titillation, with the exception of incest. So focus on that.

2. Don’t be afraid to give characters the same names: Audiences tend to run from confusion. So a show, for instance, where one character is named George Michael, one character is named Michael, one character is named George and one character is named George Oscar (and perhaps another character is named Oscar), will be the kind of show you can almost guarantee people won’t develop a fondness for.

3. Try to do too much for a 20-minute program: If in your particular medium an audience is used to a simple plotline or maybe one or two stories, see if you can get eight in there, and find a way that they somehow intertwine. Also, it’s important that you have a lot of anxiety when they don’t intertwine, sufficient to deprive yourself of sleep so that you are miserable during the production of the show – but then upon completion of the show, you’re guaranteed to be miserable, because nobody will watch it.

4. Don’t bother with a laughter track: Audiences don’t always know “when to laugh”. By omitting a laugh track you can almost guarantee they’ll never find out.

See the full list here.

Originally posted February 14 2011 — 6:44 PM EST

More from Our Partners