HOLLYWOOD, CA – In what appears to be a story ripped straight from the pages of fiction, a consortium of five major US television networks reported that a computer virus severely damaged the US sitcom script generator application ReWriteEm™ early Wednesday morning, now leaving TV networks and screenwriters scrambling to write new original plots.
“This is bad news for sitcoms entering their third season this fall,” said consortium president and noted television extra, Sean De’Mall in a telephone interview. “Screen writers typically run out of creative ideas after their second season. With mounting pressure from network executives to keep ratings high and the laugh tracks flowing, screenwriters have no choice but to repurpose scripts from prior series’, updating a line here and a character name there.”
Americans have a love affair with the sitcom. Having deep roots in the radio era, the format transitioned successfully to television in the early 1950s. Most episodes begin with a reveal of a minor disruption before the opening credits, with plot climax and resolution resolved in a mere twenty-two minutes. And let’s not forget the beloved sidekick—usually single and always chubbier than the protagonist—who plays the key role of straight man to set up the jokes.
Industry analyst and creative writer Annie Bodie is concerned about the fate of ReWriteEm™ for creative writers everywhere.
“Without the tired plots, settings, and character templates, how else can creative writers polish their craft by examining what’s been done to death?” Annie refers to the practice of creative writers carefully examining sitcoms to identify cliché settings, dialogue, and characters to avoid.
Annie continues, “Take swing-dancing for example. How many sitcoms can you recall that showed participation in swing-dance competition at one point during the series?”
It’s unclear whether the consortium will be able to undo the damage that’s been caused as a result of the system crash in time for this fall. But one thing’s for certain: there are plenty of re-runs already in existence created with ReWriteEm™. There’s a generous heap of fodder out there for creative writers to draw upon, and it means ditching the go-to elements of your stories like the held-at-gunpoint scenario, coffee shop setting, and of course, swing-dancing.