The Road to Sitcom Hell

The Writers Guild of America West scores with this irreverent (you’ll see what we mean) interview with EPISODES creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik:


The Road to Sitcom Hell
by Denis Faye

Episodes’ David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik riff on why they’re still scripting the Hollywood-skewering comedy all by themselves and why they’ll never, ever, go back to writing for network.

If you talk to veteran TV writers David Crane (Friends, Veronica’s Closet) and Jeffrey Klarik (The Class, Half & Half) expecting conversation as satirical and sharp as their Hollywood-lampooning series Episodes, then that’s what you’ll get – eventually. First you’ll need to chat with them about découpage.

Episodes, which received a 2012 Writers Guild Award nomination and returns for its third season on January 12, is the story of a successful British writing team who bring their wares to American network television, only to be swept up into a tangle of note-obsessed suits, institutionalized infidelity, and capricious actors – in other words, standard Hollywood culture. Former Friends star Matt LeBlanc gamely plays as an over-the-top, self-serving version of himself who take the couple down a tortuous and hilarious road to sitcom and relationship hell.

The show is a joint venture between the BBC and Showtime with only a handful of 30-minute episodes per season, giving Crane and Klarik plenty of time to write the entire series themselves. They’re deeply involved with every other aspect of the show, from wardrobe to set design, so they’re plenty busy, but they’re still afforded a luxury few American TV writers possess: the space and time to let their creative process flow.

And today, their creative process requires discussing découpage – the art of decorating an object with cut-up paper – whether the journalist from the Writers Guild of America, West Web site wants to or not. So here we go.

David Crane: So what is this interview about, exactly?

That’s a different Web site. I write for that one too, but they don’t pay as well.  David Crane: No, no, not that kind of craft!

Jeffrey Klarik: Do you really?

No, I don’t. 

Jeffrey Klarik: I was going to say, you should come see mydécoupage then.

I’m going to segue into my first question here… 

David Crane: Somebody’s in a hurry.

No, but that brings up a good point. A lot of times when I talk to showrunner they’re in a mad rush because they’re scrambling to write stuff – but you guys are done; you’ve written your whole season. 

Jeffrey Klarik: Actually, we’re not done because as soon as we finish we’ve got to start all over again.

David Crane: We’ve already started planning and mapping season four.

Jeffrey Klarik: We don’t have any other writers; it’s just the two of us and so there’s no room, which is wonderful in some regards, but on the other hand, if we don’t write today nothing gets written.

David Crane: Which is why we prefer to talk to you as long as possible.

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