The Runway – Your 2017 Pilot Survival Guide: NBC Comedies


sackett sisters

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The Sackett Sisters

Logline: Two estranged sisters perform a Sully Sullenberger-esque act of public heroism, then are forced to navigate their newfound notoriety together.
Cast: Busy Philipps, Casey Wilson, Bradley Whitford
Creators: Luke Del Tredici (W / EP), Tina Fey (EP), Robert Carlock (EP), David Miner (EP)
Studios: Universal TV, Little Stranger, 3 Arts Entertainment

Much like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Sackett Sisters‘ jumping off point is a moment made famous by video and the internet. During an explosion on a ship, sisters Sutton (practical, down to earth) and Mandy (flighty, schemer) jump into action to save children. The latter a bit more reluctantly than the former. Prior to this event, the sisters had become a bit estranged. Sutton is a pushover, both with her jerky boss and her points-for-purchases obsessed live-in boyfriend. Mandy, taking after the sisters’ father, is just barely scraping by, trying to occasionally con people, until it backfires and she runs over a pedestrian. A funny courtroom scene ensues. Flashforward to post boat rescue, end of Act One, and we have Mandy and family moving in with Sutton as the media has taken a lot of interest in them. Most of Act Two is a preview for what the series will be: two sisters, quite different, trying to co-exist and navigate a world in which they are instant celebrities. Oh, and their deadbeat Dad, Henry, comes back into their life. By the end, we have Sutton standing up to her boyfriend (though curiously not also her boss), and the sisters about to appear on The Tonight Show when they get a surprise text. I won’t spoil it for you.

A couple things in play on this one. To the best of my recollection, we haven’t had a sisters-based sitcom in a while, and Casey Wilson and Busy Philipps are proven tv show winners. What’s not so hot: How much mileage do they get out of being internet sensations? That worked for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because that is a hero’s journey story of a naive victim coming into her own in New York City. Plus that show has Titus Burgess. For this show, the boat incident is more of an inciting incident to bring the family together, but not really a story engine that is too sustainable beyond the pilot. We’ve also seen this family dynamic a bit before in Trainwreck.

But we do have Wilson + Philipps + Bradley Whitford, we have Universal producing this, and we have a network that might have non-buyer’s remorse on passing on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. So I think the Sackett Sisters might just do some more family bonding beyond the pilot.

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