The track record of adapting internet hits into TV shows may be abysmal, but that hasn't stopped production companies from trying. Attempts at turning smash Twitter feeds like $#*! My Dad Says and web memes like the Honey Badger into TV series have tanked, but CBS is giving another go at turning a popular digital property into a TV hit with its just-announced reality TV show based on the smartphone app Draw Something. How will it compare with past internet memes turned into TV shows? Here's a look:
1. Draw Something
Televised Pictionary for 2012? CBS has ordered an unscripted pilot based on the hit smartphone game Draw Something, which lets users sketch a picture on their phones while a friend tries to guess what it is. The pilot will be produced by Ryan Seacrest, and will reportedly pit multiple celebrities against common folk in a drawing contest, with tie-ins for viewers to play at home. Brilliant, says Ryan Lawler at TechCrunch: "Translating a game most people play in their spare time while commuting or before bed into a hilarious new game show..."
CBS' comedy Friend Me, which will debut sometime in midseason, is about a group of friends who work for the group discount website Groupon, yet the show's name is a baffling allusion to Facebook, says Tim Surette at TV.com. Sight unseen, the series already seems like a misfire because of its ridiculous title, which shows "just how out-of-touch studio execs are with the real world." It's the equivalent of "calling a show about football Slam Dunk."
3. Honey Badger
In January, The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Honey Badger Don't Care viral video that logged over 46 million YouTube hits — thanks to its flamboyant narrator Randall's colorful commentary about a honey badger eating a snake — is being turned into a TV show. Honey Badger U will be a live-action/cartoon hybrid, and follow Randall, who will be professor of life sciences, as he forms what The Hollywood Reporter calls "an unusual bond" with students and the university mascot, a honey badger. No network has picked up the comedy yet, and "though the Honey Badger is beloved," says Maura Judkis at The Washington Post, the failures of previous shows based on internet memes doesn't bode well for it.
4. $#*! My Dad Says
After writer Justin Halpern's massively successful Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays — through which Halpern would report on his curmudgeonly father's wry musings — exploded with popularity, CBS turned it into a sitcom in 2010. William Shatner played the ornery father, and the sitcom debuted to a respectable 12 million viewers. Critics, however, eviscerated it, and viewers quickly jumped ship, leading to the show's cancellation after just 18 episodes.
5. Stuff White People Like
The satirical blog Stuff White People Like, which ridiculed the tastes of "left-leaning, city-dwelling, white folk," enjoyed peak cultural relevancy at the end of 2008, when it was adapted into a best-selling book. In 2010, Comedy Central tried to piggyback on its popularity with the show Patrice O'Neal's Guide to White People, which would be loosely based on the blog and star comedian Patrice O'Neal. The series never made it to air.
6. Texts From Last Night
The website Texts From Last Night became a hit in 2009 for gathering anonymous text messages from young people detailing their drunken exploits. Example: "This is a mass text. Does anyone know where I am?" In 2011, Fox announced a half-hour comedy based on the site, which critics were skeptical about from the start. "This sounds like a disaster in the making," said Andrew Couts at Digital Trends. The texts are funny and embarrassing, "but there is literally nothing else to the blog." How could it possibly work as a TV show?
7. Shh Don't Tell Steve
Not turned off by the failure of its $#*! My Dad Says adaptation, CBS attempted to turn another Twitter account into a TV show in 2010, making a script deal with the writer of the @shhdonttellsteve Twitter feed. The Twitter stream has one man obsessively chronicling his immature roommate's antics. The feed doesn't have as many followers as @ShitMyDadSays, says Margaret Lyons at Entertainment Weekly, but the idea has an Odd Couple vibe to it that makes it not "the worst idea ever." Still, the series never got picked up.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- This week I learned the moon might be littered with dinosaur fossils, and more
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- The conservative battle against ObamaCare won't end with Halbig
- Girls on Film: Why audiences are responsible for the future of cinema
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
Subscribe to the Week