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October 7, 2015

NBC picks up webseries 'quarterlife'

by Liz Finn-Arnold, posted Nov 19th 2007 10:21AM
quarterlifeIt's being called a "revoluntionary step" in television entertainment. Quarterlife, created by thirtysomething's Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, has the honor of becoming the first webseries to be acquired for broadcast television. The hour-long drama will begin airing on NBC sometime in February.

Herskovitz and Zwick reportedly launched the series (about a twentysomething video blogger and her friends) directly on the web in order to maintain complete creative control. However, after viewing the series online , I began to suspect that quarterlife simply wasn't good enough for primetime. In fact, I doubted it would ever gain a strong fanbase or end up on network television.

Shows how much I know.

The thing that disappointed me the most about the series as it that it seems terribly inauthentic. This isn't a realistic portrayal of twentysomethings (at least I hope it isn't). It's merely an interpretation of twentysomething lives as seen through the eyes of fiftysomething producers. Like many other series produced by Herskovitz and Zwick, quarterlife features moody, whiny, young affluent white people who seem to wallow in self-pity and narcissism. In the land of Herskovitz and Zwick, life is oh-so-serious, full of sound and fury, and nothing more. If quarterlife were presented as a parody of Herskovitz and Zwick's better TV series (thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, Once and Again), I'd call it brilliant. As a straight up drama, it left me rolling my eyes and gagging.

Obviously someone at NBC saw something in quarterlife that I didn't. This is good news for Herskovitz and Zwick, even if it's frustrating for those of us who expect better from the thirtysomething producers.

However, I am excited by what this all means. This "revolutionary" deal proves that a series produced relatively cheaply and independently can ultimately find distribution on network TV. Tired of waiting for my Hollywood break, I've decided to take matters into my own hands and am currently developing my own independent sitcom. Like many others, I'm hoping that even if my series doesn't find a network or cable home, it could have a long and happy life on the internet.

And if I'm really lucky, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to follow the path paved by Herskovitz and Zwick (minus the whiny twentysomethings) -- and clinch my very own network distribution deal.

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Mike Brown

"However, I am excited by what this all means. This "revolutionary" deal proves that a series produced relatively cheaply and independently can ultimately find distribution on network TV."

I wouldn't put a lot of faith in that - Quarterlife was given the red light from ABC and only appeared on MySpaceTV for that reason.

November 20 2007 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Geez, mispelled Herskovitz. Dummy.

Anyway, here's the link to Nikki Finke:


November 19 2007 at 2:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

According to Nikki Finke on her DeadlineHollywoodDaily blog, the WGA is NOT happy with Zwick and Herkovitz. Last week, Herkovitz penned a column attacking the studios' oppressive control over their tv shows, creating a climate that he, as an artist, could not function properly in, which in turn, led him and Zwick to place their latest endeavor on the net. He blamed tv's creative downturn on the demise of independent tv production companies.

Then he and Zwick turn around and make a deal with one of those studios to air "Quarterlife" on their network, claiming that this is a revolutionary event in tv history-a major step towards bringing back the independents and putting more shows on the internet.

I've got a problem with all of this.

I know that in the run-up to the strike that the networks ordered more scripts and shot extra episodes of their shows as insurance against a long walkout. They also have plan in place to borrow shows from cable and overseas to fill out their schedules. On the surface, "Quarterlife" appears to be nothing more than a
"borrowed" series.

I don't think it is.

Despite Zwick's and Herkovitz's claim that "Quarterlife" making it to network tv is "groundbreaking", the bottom line is it most likely would not have even picked up by NBC if the strike was not happening. They can spin it any way they want, but this is not a noble action; it is opportunisic. If Herkovitz hadn't written his commentary on the "suffocating" studio system, I might be more willing to give them a break. They obviously wanted to get "Quarterlife" on tv. It would have been OK if they had been upfront about it. But to attack the studios and then turn around and make a big business deal with one of them-it appears to be a bit hypocritical.

What makes it worse is that, if I'm correct, not all the original episodes of "Quarterlife" have been aired on the net. The other series the major networks are thinking about "bringing over" are not first-run.

November 19 2007 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think all NBC saw in it was a strike. What confuses me is, how is this not scabbing? Herskovitz at least must be in the WGA. Or are all the episodes already written?

November 19 2007 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott Schrantz

Would this be happening if the strike wasn't going on? I doubt it. I only see one relevant sentence in that NY Times article. "The series ... will not be affected by the current writers’ strike because of its ownership structure." I think NBC just jumped at the chance to have any kind of scripted programming on for the spring.

November 19 2007 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

Except for the small fact that most of those series that "nobody" watches on NBC are some of the best hours of broadcast television, period, and quarterlife simply will not be in the same universe, from that perspective.

November 19 2007 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't doubt your beliefs that noone will want to see it because nbc picked it up. Noone wants to see anything that nbc offers, it should fit right in their line-up.

November 19 2007 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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