Revenge of the Show Runner


The Wall Street Journal reports on the tendency of TV writers to get revenge on their real-life enemies by eviscerating them on their shows:

After several seasons of disappointing reviews, writers on the USA network’s mystery series “Psych” decided to get revenge. They crafted an episode involving a psychotic killer doctor. The deranged murderer’s name? Ken Tucker, who in real life is the mild-mannered, 57-year-old TV critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine.

“It was never ‘Dr. Tucker’ or just ‘Ken.’ It was always ‘Did Ken Tucker eviscerate the body?'” says USA original programming chief Jeff Wachtel.

….When the lead detective wants to discuss a serious matter with his partner in the drama “Detroit 1-8-7,” which premieres on ABC Sept. 21, he will only talk via cellphone, even when the two men are in the same car or sitting together at a coffee shop. “That’s a reference to a passive-aggressive Hollywood producer who will go unnamed,” says executive producer Jason Richman, referring to a power player who goes to great lengths to avoid face-to-face confrontations.

Some gestures are more casual. Before he created “Mad Men,” Matthew Weiner worked as a writer on “The Sopranos,” where he put the name of a former employer who had wronged him on a gravestone in the background of a cemetery scene.

This is pretty disappointing. I think it would be kind of cool to be eviscerated on a TV show, and I figured my only real problem is that no one dislikes me quite enough to bother. I could always work on that, though. But why bother, if “evisceration” just means having one of my quirks silently mocked or my name showing up on a gravestone in the background of a single scene? Hell, without Tivo I might miss that it even happened. Is this really the best that TV writers can do?