ABC has ordered second seasons of original web shows “Newborn Moms,” “Forever 31,” and “I Can Find $3000 In Your Home” as part of ABCd, the network’s new digital programming platform.
ABCd is also home to the original series “Boondoggle” and “All My Gay Friends Are Getting Married,” as well as library fare (which the network is calling “Throwback” shows) like “Felicity,” “My So-Called Life,” “Ugly Betty,” “Ellen,” and the tragically short-lived “Trophy Wife.”
The network also acquired “American Koko,” which follows a satirical agency that solves sticky racial situations. The series is created by Diarra Kilpatrick (who also stars), and is produced by Viola Davis’ and Julius Tennon’s JuVEe Productions. Originally distributed via Kilpatrick’s YouTube channel, “American Koko” received the Best Web Series Award from the American Black Film Festival.
Following in the footsteps of NBC’s Seeso (although not subscription based), ABCd Originals showcases fresh voices in an effort to connect with new online audiences. ABCd creators have been given license to play with length and format to best serve their target audiences. IndieWire talked to the creators behind two of the ABCd originals that have just been renewed for second seasons.
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Created by Toronto-based comedians Aurora Browne and Nadine Djoury, “Newborn Moms” is a comedy about the absurdities of modern motherhood. With Browne as the new age-y Rosie, and Djoury as the type-A Julia, this buddy comedy finds humor in the contrast between the archetypes as they advise and support one another. (Julia: “I don’t wanna talk about Burning Man.” Rosie: “I don’t wanna talk to you about Burning Man.”)
At under four minutes an episode, “Newborn Moms” keeps the jokes pithy and fresh. (These Second City-trained writers don’t get bogged down with exposition.) The concepts speak for themselves: There’s the dreamy male lactation specialist who catches both women off guard, the breastfeeding hippie who shames Rosie for using formula, and a “Mom Pick Up” where the two cheer each other on as they try to get numbers from other moms. (For playdates, of course.)
“The experience is incredibly personal and stressful and gross,” is how Djoury described motherhood. “There’s so much poo. But you can’t help but laugh, because it’s so ridiculous.” Browne added: “It’s been cathartic for us to do it and it’s been cathartic for other people to watch it.”
The duo met when Browne was teaching a class at the Second City in Toronto. Djoury was her student, and pitched Browne the idea after spending an eye-opening weekend with her sister’s children. Many of the stories come directly from that visit, as well as the women’s own lives.
The short episodes leave no room for wasted time, and make them shareable and easy to watch. Browne and Djoury wanted busy Moms to be able to watch episodes on-the-go. “I don’t know if we’d be able to reach as many mothers if we were on traditional television,” Djoury said.
“I think we’re in the golden age of access,” said Browne. “You can be a little dirtier, you can be more bald-faced, you can talk about nipples and drinking. There’s a Wild West feel to the stuff you can do online.”
Since stand-up comedian Iliza Schlesinger won “Last Comic Standing” in 2008, she’s had her own Netflix special, appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and hosted a reality dating show for CBS. “Forever 31” marks her biggest project to date, and one she is proud to call her own. “I was there from the second I wrote the first word to the color correction at the end,” the comedian told IndieWire. “This is my baby.”
“Forever 31” follows a fictional Iliza as she quits her soul-crushing day job to host an online talk show. On the fictional show and the actual show, she skewers dating double standards, web awards shows, and her own embarrassing drinking debacles. Based on a bit from her stand-up, Schlesinger becomes the “Party Goblin,” in green make-up and prosthetic hands, dancing on top of bars and shaking down bouncers for drugs.
“I do believe non-linear TV is the wave of the future,” Schlesinger said of the move to online content. “Wherever there are more people watching, that’s where I want to be.” She noted that ABC Digital gave her complete creative freedom, something she thinks more networks should do. “Talent is taking the reins in digital,” she said, as opposed to network shows, where “three white guys in a boardroom decide what America should watch.”
For your consideration…
While not digital, “Trophy Wife” was one of the smartest half-hour comedies of the 2013-2014 season. Starring Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford, Marcia Gay Harden, and Michaela Watkins, the cancellation of this clever comedy from writers Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins had fans scratching their heads.
Whitford stars as Pete, an affable Dad on his third wife, the gorgeous and charming Kate (Akerman), hence the show’s title. Kate must woo not only Pete’s three kids, but make nice with his two former wives, who remain integral parts of his life. Harden plays tough-as-nails first wife, Diane, an executive mom who expects perfection from her kids. Watkins plays hippied out Jackie, who doesn’t work and has plenty of time to meddle in Kate’s life. Jackie is smothering mom to the adorable Bert, played by the precocious Albert Tsai, a cuter, pudgier version of Manny from “Modern Family,” (yes, it’s possible.)
With smart writing that turns stereotypes on its head, power-hitting talent, and a concise and hilarious premise, “Trophy Wife” is definitely worth another look.