'Shit My Dad Says' Creator: I Killed Hollywood's Obsession With Twitter TV Shows

TV's_Twitter_Gold_Rush_Article_Snippet - H 2015

TV's_Twitter_Gold_Rush_Article_Snippet - H 2015

In 2010, in its first issue, THR noted that tweets were being turned into television. Five years later, Justin Halpern, the user behind the Twitter page that spawned the short-lived CBS sitcom, fondly writes about the flop that killed the trend.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

In 2009, When I sold my Shit My Dad Says Twitter feed to CBS, the most common response was, "They bought a Twitter feed? Hollywood is completely out of anything resembling an original idea." (The second most common was, "Fuck you." There was a random guy who just tweeted me "fuck you" every day for a year, the longest relationship I've had aside from my wife.) If I'm being honest, I would have agreed with all of the above if it hadn't been my Twitter feed.

Now that I've worked as a TV writer for six years, I've come to realize why networks were eager to buy my feed. Writers and broadcast networks have a specific relationship. Think of them as a middle-aged married couple who has sex once a week, mostly in the missionary position, then rolls over and cruises on their iPads. Both parties might like to try something new, but nobody wants to make a move that ends up going so badly that you can't look at each other in the morning.

But then the broadcast networks see writers and cable networks fucking in all kinds of crazy, nasty ways, and the broadcast networks think, "You know, I don't want to have sex like that, but I would be interested in spicing it up a bit. Maybe next time we have sex, I'd like to try having a finger stuck up my asshole." And in 2009, with Twitter starting to burst out, Shit My Dad Says was that finger.

If you remember, Shit My Dad Says was not a very good TV show. The blame lies mostly on me, because when you're trying something a little kinky, you have to have confidence in what you're doing, otherwise it just ends with everyone going, "What if we just went to bed?"

After the failure of the show, many of the Twitter feeds that had been bought that pilot season died. And during the next few years, Twitter-to-TV pilot purchases went away, but Twitter did not. It became a great place to find talented writers and performers like Megan Amram, Jen Statsky and Rob Delaney. So the Shit My Dad Says show may have ruined one sexual maneuver, but there are plenty of people on Twitter who have ably done all sorts of dirty shit with the networks that worked out well for everyone.

Justin Halpern is the author of two New York Times best-selling books and a TV writer hoping for a show that gets a second season.


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