The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Comedies

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relatively happy

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Relatively Happy

Logline: An adult brother and sister wind up living together for the first time since they were kids, after one of them suffers a big loss. They become each other’s wingmen, shoulder to cry on, best friend and punching bag as they navigate love, loss and work while helping to get each other “un-stuck.”
Cast: Jon Rudnitsky, Genevieve Angelson, Jane Lynch, Diona Reasonover, Derek Gaines
Creators: Max Mutchnick (W / EP), Jeff Astrof (W / EP), James Burrows (D / EP)
Studios: Warner Bros TV

Anytime you see a re-developed pilot from another network, you raise an eyebrow a bit. When you see it comes from an outside studio, and one of the writers is the co-showrunner on the high-profile reboot that’s anchoring the network’s pilot season, your eyebrow flies off your head! So yes, I’m coming into Relatively Happy a little skeptical of a package deal.

In the cold open, we meet Heather (“Hezzy”) and Henry. They’re brother-sister. From an incredible amount of motormouth exposition from Heather, to a girl Henry is dating, we learn Heather moved in with Henry after his wife died. Oh, and Henry does a great ‘Stephen Hawking ordering at Pinkberry’ impersonation (yup, this is a multi-cam). Act One gives us more background on the two: Heather is an unemployed mess (though thinks she’s a caretaker for her brother), Henry has had a tough time moving on with his life, and their African-American friends are as equally hyper-literate as them. A lot of talking ensues. We get to see Henry at work, where he’s a lawyer with a hyper-literate boss. It seems like everyone in this pilot would be a huge fan of Gilmore Girls.

Things come to a head when Henry argues with Heather over why she didn’t finish her Stanford MBA, and Heather confronts Henry about why he hasn’t moved on from his deceased wife (a conversation they had before, but with the added twist that Heather hated her because she had cheated on Henry). Act Two has Henry sticking up for Heather, and the inevitable reunion. Oh, and a search for a lost transgender turtle. I’m not surprised this was co-written by one of the creators of Will & Grace. It has the same pace, the same pop culture references, the same “we may be fighting, but it’s because we care about each other” moral.

There’s really two thought processes if you’re an NBC exec: throw this on the schedule with Will & Grace in a multi-cam block or dump this pilot cause it’s too similar to Will & Grace. I can’t really fault them for going either direction. Everyone wants another Big Bang Theory, so you always hope the next multi-cam pilot will be that start of that kinda run. They rarely do.

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