‘Episodes’ Creators Share Tale of Development Hell

TCA 2014: How the story of an Indian woman and her mother dramatically changed

There’s a great joke in the television industry about the sometimes meddlesome tendencies of network executives.

Q: “How many network executives does it take to change a lightbulb?”

A: “Does it have to be a lightbulb?”

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At a panel for the Showtime comedy “Episodes” Thursday, one of the show’s co-creators shared a real-life version of the joke. The Matt LeBlanc comedy satirizes the industry, and has no shortage of material.

Executive producer Jeffrey Klarik said he had a friend who sold a show to a network about an Indian woman and her mother, adjusting to life in the United States. The network had just one note: They didn’t want the mother.

Okay, said the writer. We’ll get rid of the mother.

One more thing, said the network: Does she have to be Indian? Could she be black?

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Okay, the writer said.

But the network wasn’t done making little tweaks.

“It’s now about three black guys raising a baby,” said Klarik.

Klarik said he has also gotten some odd network notes. He was making a comedy about girls at a boarding school, and the network asked if there could be “one scene where the girls are in their nightgowns.”

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Klarik’s “Episodes” partner David Crane noted that the girls were only 14.

“I was like, ‘That’s the note?'” Crane said, before wryly adding, “And you do it.”