The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Comedies


A few years ago, NBC comedy was in a bad place. Long-running shows like Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock were reaching their natural conclusion. Though critically adored and beloved by many, these two shows simply weren’t ratings juggernauts, so NBC had a choice to make: go broader with comedy or continue to focus on smaller, quality projects. As with most things in television, the pursuit of money won out.

The planned directional shift at NBC was a bit rough. They passed on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (a success at Netflix), greenlit some ratings underperformers like People Are Talking, and never really quite forged an identity like ABC comedy. What we’re left with is a mishmash of shows on the air: Superstore (broad, decent ratings), The Carmichael Show (multi-cam, topical, seems to only get 1/2 season orders), Powerless (soon-to-be-cancelled), Trial and Error (one of my favorites from last pilot season), and The Good Place (good pedigree, has a pretty strong fanbase).

What does this mean for the current pilot season at NBC? Who knows… there really hasn’t been any brand consistency or overt strategy lately. We have multi-cams, we have superheros, we have serialization, we have the afterlife. This might be a case of the best pilots win. So let’s see if we can identify them…

Champions         Relatively Happy         The Sackett Sisters

Spaced Out         Unt. Kourtney Kang         Unt. Seth Meyers/Mike O’Brien

What About Barb?         Will & Grace

Final Verdict

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