The modestly rated comedy from Big Love‘s Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer centering on a group of nurses (and doctors) who care for the elderly bowed in November to little fanfare. The series, which was embraced by critics, was renewed for a second season of six episodes in February.
Producers told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that the show’s November rollout and lack of a major marketing push was done by design in order to match the tone of the show.
“The show was never planned to get a great promotional push. We’re a tiny show unlike anything else on TV. … We’re a guerrilla show and we were always going to come in under the radar,” Scheffer said, noting they had hopes the slow burn would pay off. “The show grew in numbers and on HBO Go and on social media so it was hard to have doubts when you saw what [the cast] was doing that it wouldn’t get the support it wound up getting.”
To be sure, Olsen and Scheffer were more accustomed to a big push — having come from the cabler’s awards-season regular Big Love — and started writing a second season well before HBO officially committed to a second run of six episodes.
Olsen noted that the show is an intimate and contained show — the creative story never leaves the hospital and won’t again this season — and that he was thrilled that their plan to see the show grow by word-of-mouth pay off.
“The show has became, as people found it on their own, the little engine that could. We’re proud we weren’t inflated on a false balloon to collapse,” he said.
As for the show’s short run, producers said they took the nine episodes of the original British version and made it their own with a six-episode model fitting HBO’s schedule, which included shorter seasons of Treme, Hello Ladies and Family Tree.
“It was scary and terrifying to be in that untested time block,” Scheffer said. “It was scary to talk about this being an under-the-radar show. But we went along with it and in December and January, we thought it was crazy and that we should never have gone along with that. But it was the right thing to do. This is a new world. With HBO Go, the show kept going and people kept discovering it. We’ve been with HBO a long time and we put our faith in our network … and it paid off.”
As for stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein and Niecy Nash, they consider the series like a summer camp, as Borstein called it, with all six episodes produced in just five weeks to allow its busy cast to juggle other projects. (Metcalf’s CBS comedy The McCarthys films around Getting On; Borstein is a writer/voice actress on Family Guy and Nash shoots The Soul Man for TV Land.)
Getting On season two bows in November.