Mitch Hurwitz, creator of the greatly missed Arrested Development and the greatly ignored Running Wilde, took to the pages of the Guardian recently to explain to those of us not in the TV business just what it takes to get a sitcom canceled. (He would know. I say that with love.) It's all worth reading — not surprisingly, Hurwitz is amusingly self-deprecating throughout and perhaps just a little bit bitter — but I'll reprint two of my favorite hot tips for failure below:
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.
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.
The first pointer was followed by one of my other favorite always-about-to-be-canceled show, Veronica Mars, and that show also had a bumpy road filled with network interference before coming to an ignoble end. So this advice really does work! Of course, he did leave off one tip that's more applicable to Running Wilde: don't make it very good. (Then again, that actually really works for some shows. Being crappy is a crap shoot.)