Leading up to the Writers Guild of Canada awards on April 23, TV, eh? will be posting a series of interviews with some of nominees. 18 to Life creator Derek Schreyer was nominated in the TV Comedy category for the “One Is the Loneliest Number” episode.
Can you describe the episode, and how it fit into the 18 to Life season?
This was our season II kickoff, and we wanted to enjoy the characters we created without it feeling like a premiere. Our pilot suffered from a bit of a set-up-itis, so it was fun to write something that was purely character-driven rather than premise-oriented. At one point we had another episode in this slot which focused on a pregnancy scare, but it felt too early to play that card. So we looked for something that would shed new light on Tom and Jessie’s relationship and colour their dynamics for the season.
For me it was important that it was funny but also have a bit of pain underneath. That’s why it touches on sexual insecurity which triggers the need to overcompensate (by which I mean lie). These lies breed misunderstandings which in turn lead to scenes that are both funny and agonizing. Or so I hope. I find it hard to write comedy without drama, or drama without comedy, because they feed off each other.
What about this episode are you particularly proud of?
I like how this episode is clearly about three relationships — not just Tom and Jessie, but also their two sets of parents.
Unfortunately, we were never quite able to shake the misconception 18 To Life was a teen show, probably because of that damn title (oh, hindsight!). If we could rename it, we’d probably call it Love Thy Neighbour to showcase the wider premise. Truth is we were always more a 9pm show (as this episode demonstrates) which is probably why ABC picked up our pilot the same year they ordered Modern Family, even though they passed on the series.
I think we hit our stride here — it’s sexy, adult, painful, and the storylines bounce off each couple organically. It was a treat to watch our awesome cast pull it off, and I’m very proud of how this episode showcases every one of our characters, the core six, plus the two best friends. I also like how in the end we put Tom in a vulnerable place that informs his arc for the season.
What does this recognition mean to you?
There’s only four nominees in this category, but they’re all pretty heavy-hitters. I’m really proud to be in their company.
And finally (imagine my best Joan Rivers impression): what will you be wearing to the ceremony?
I’m not even sure what I’m wearing right now.