The new TV Land series, Nobodies, features three aspiring writers – Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, and Rachel Ramras. The show follows their journey to capturing their first big break role in Los Angeles. After years of writing for poorly conceived kids Nickelodeon television series, Hugh, Larry, and Rachel create a script titled “Mr. First Lady” that they want to pitch to producers. But before they can make their pitch, the series first opens by establishing the writer’s credibility. We see Hugh, Larry and Rachel in relation to actors and writers who are more well-known in the industry. There is a clear separation between Hugh, Larry and Rachel. The three are depicted as the “others” in the featured improve production shown in the first scene; on the other side of the spectrum are A list actors such as Maya Rudolf who has “worked on SNL”
After spending years writing for a weak kids television show, the writers finally have the opportunity to earn their big break with the script they co-created. However, they aren’t getting the recognition that they desire/think they deserve to the piece that they wrote. This team of three writers – Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, and Rachel Ramras – depends on their fourth friend/writer Melissa McCarthy. The writers need McCarthy to carry their team, and ultimately decide to use her as a known name within the industry to get them further in their careers.
At first, the writers plan to refrain from “name dropping” Melissa’s name when they enter an interview session for their scrip “Mr. First Lady.” However, not only do they casually mention her name, they go completely overboard. Two our of the three writers – Larry and Rachel – elaborate on how close they are with Melissa, even going so far as “name dropping” other famous figures in the industry, like Kristen Wigg.
When the producer, Gavin, discovers that the group doesn’t have much credibility to their names within the industry and that there is “no star” name in relation to the script, they turn the writer’s idea down. In a wave of panic, Rachel’s character blurts out “Melissa McCarthy wants to play the President!” Such scenes show hilariously ironic contrast between making a plan and following through with a polar opposite reaction; utilizing both the dialogue and the physical actions is a key part of how the series establishing its comedic tone.
Another example of this style is when Rachel gets a chance to ask Ben, Melissa’s husband, about the script. The writers conjure up an idea to ask Ben if Melissa would play a leading role in their script. But before Rachel makes her move, Ben state that he “hates” when people he knows give him scripts; or “worse,” when people he knows give him scripts for Melissa to in the hopes that she will agree to the project. He believes that these “people” are using his and his wife’s friendship for professional gains.
Rachel reacts as if she is completely disgusted that people would stoop to that level, with drastic, overdramatic facial expressions as she shoves the script back inside her bag; when Ben asks about the papers she is stuffing back into her pure, Rachel tells him that it is her will and proceeds to chug an entire glass of wine. These reactions show how the series portrays this type of expressive, blatant comedy stylings.
The writer’s next plan of action is to find a big star to agree to partaking in the production of their script. They believe if they do this, Melissa McCarthy will be interested in their script. Coincidentally, the writers discover that they have a mutual friend, Hugh’s roommate, with Jason Bateman who played alongside McCarthy in Identity Thief.
Larry and Hugh tag alongside Hugh’s roommate’s basketball pick-up game, which Jason Bateman is apart of. However, the slapstick comedic style is heavy and embarrassing, as we see Larry in his intense approach towards Jason in pitching the script. Almost immediately, as Larry is aggressively guarding him, he pitches the script story to Jason. Larry’s advances escalate so much so that he forces Jason to the ground, where his knee gives out. As a result, Gavin’s movie project with Jason is on hold; which also means that there is a delay on Gavin’s meeting with the three writers. This gives Larry, Hugh and Rachel more time to find a celebrity to attach to their script; and therefore propels the story into another episode/episodes.
An interesting part of the show is that is grounded in real-life components of the Californian film/television industry. Throughout the 22 minutes series, we (the audience) see real-life celebrity names that exist in our world (along with cameo appearances in the show). Such recognized names include Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, Jason Bateman, and Maya Rudolph. Many of their projects that these well-known actors appear in are also mentioned. But what is particularly intriguing is the portrayal of these actors in their everyday lives; and also how their lives coincide with their professional careers as actors, writers, producers, and directors within the on-screen industry.
Additionally, we see the three leading actors – Hugh, Larry, and Rachel – who essentially play heightened versions of themselves. All three have experience writing on a kids “nick” tv show, the Looney Tunes, similar to their characters’ work experience. Additionally, all three – Rachel, Larry, and Hugh – are alumni of the Groundlings Improv Troupe where they met Melissa McCarthy. This similarity is also shared with the three writers.
It is also noteworthy how the show implements comedic styles and strategies in various ways within the series. Yet they all tie together and convey comedy ranging between subtle deadpan to a loud, exaggerated approach. “Nobodies” presents a comedic style we are familiar with – in big screen features like Identity Thief, Bridesmaids, and SNL. It brings the new era of comedy to the small screen with short, witty weekly episodes to enjoy.