Some ideas are so bonkers that they’re either going to result in something really great or really horrible, with no possible middle ground. This is one of those ideas. It seems that director Ben Stiller and writer Helen Childress have reteamed for a TV version of their cult 1994 comedy “Reality Bites.” Should the pilot go to series, it will air on NBC; Stiller’s Red Hour Television will be producing alongside Universal Television and Double Feature Films, the company run by Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, who produced the original movie. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Jeez that movie was almost instantly dated, how are they going to modernize it?” Don’t worry: it’s going to maintain the early-nineties setting of the movie. Get ready for lots and lots of flannel shirts.
The television show will, like the movie, focus on the trials and tribulations of Lelaina Pierce, played in the movie by Winona Ryder at the peak of her adorableness. The show will once again be set in Houston, and since Lelaina photographs herself and her dopey Gen X friends with the aid of a clunky video camera, we suspect the show will have a “found footage” element as well.
Childress and Stiller are set to reteam again on the big screen for “The Mountain,” a period horror movie at Fox based in part on Edith Wharton‘s “Summer” (but this time with a supernatural edge). And Stiller is about to make an Oscar push for his big new movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” which is the centerpiece film at this year’s New York Film Festival.
Like we said: a remake of “Reality Bites” for television could be either really wonderful or really, really horrible. The movie hasn’t aged particularly well and the show will have to work extra-hard to avoid gimmicky references to politics, fashion, and culture from the period. But hey, if it works, it could capture, in a really heartfelt way, the aimlessness of post-collegiate life in a very specific moment in history.
We should know sometime next year whether or not the pilot has any traction, or if our dream nineties-movie-turned-into-lavish-TV-series project gets the green light: “Gremlins 2: The New Batch – The Series.” Just imagine it…