Exactly how the stars aligned for Drama 3/4 to have its first TV show is hard to say. It was partly due to our past work, especially Deliverance, the Musical, which had ended up on desks around MTV networks; our live show, A.S.S. (Another Showcase Showdown), which had recently relaunched bigger and better after TV development talks went south; and the restructuring of the company into something that looked as professional as it was skilled, rather than a bunch of sketch comedians running around with their heads cut off. We were finally an entity that a network could buy from, and VH1 did!
At that time, VH1 wasn’t really in the business of doing scripted content, but the president of the network really wanted to break into that space and had opened a whole department to make it happen. So they acquired the Tori Spelling series So Notorious and greenlit our pilot presentation, The AfterWork Special, along with a few others on both coasts (you can read all about that on Day 15). Even though they were pleased with the result, there was still a lot of resistance. VH1 mainly trafficked in reality programming and the occasional TV biopic. They just weren’t accustomed to spending the kind of “scripted dollars” that narrative production requires, despite our willingness to keep the budget to an absolute minimum – which we soon discovered would become the norm, with shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia setting the bar (a “bar” we shared for the party scene in AfterWork Special 😉) at remarkably-high quality for ultra-low cost. But AfterWork became the little pilot that wouldn’t die, and when it continued to test well, VH1 gave it an 8-episode pickup under a new name, I Hate My 30’s, to capitalize on the popularity of their nostalgia “strip” shows such as I Love the ’80s. This technically made us the first live-action scripted series ever developed in-house at VH1.
While 30’s was underway, it overlapped – at the same soundstages, no less – with VH1’s next scripted show, Acceptable.TV, from producers Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon (later creator of Community and Rick and Morty), based on their Channel 101 web screening series. An audience voting element in that show required immediate turnaround, so even though we wrapped production first, Acceptable.TV was already hitting the airwaves while we deliberated with the network through another several months of post. Finally, after a long and winding journey, I Hate My 30’s premiered on VH1 in the summer of 2007. It was a dream come true for us to work on a real television project with so many of our Showcase friends, and amongst those in the know, the series remains a cult favorite to this day.
I Hate My 30’s is written and directed by Brice Beckham & David Fickas, starring themselves along with Mark Kelly, Rachael Lawrence, James Mathis III, Megahn Perry, Jill Ritchie, Michele Specht, Liam Sullivan and Ric Barbera as Dr. Rod. Go ahead, spend your Saturday soaking in all 8 episodes (and a handful of the 22 additional web extras, and the pilot again, if you like). We’ll be over here, brainstorming reasons We Hate Our 40s… just in case.