Aug 30, 2023, 06:28AM

The Best Unproduced Television Show You’ve Never Seen

My treatment for The Tech Boyzz deserves another look from Hollywood, especially during the ongoing writers’ strike.

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If you’re anything like me, you undoubtedly spend most of your waking hours daydreaming about how to earn a lot of money without doing a lot of work—or any work, for that matter. But how? There’s the lottery, but only really experienced gamblers and number-crunchers ever win. What about slam-jamming it home in the NBA? Not if you’re under 6’6”. Professional Madden 2004 player? Nah, you lack the manual dexterity to make your Michael Vick character “juke” all those 99-rated linebackers. Hardgaining and “hydroxycutting” on the bodybuilding circuit? Sorry, friend—with a puny frame like yours, expect a lifetime of brawny bullies kicking sand into your face whenever you visit one of our nation’s many splendid public beaches.

What’s left? Are you doomed to a life without such finer things as stone-ground kombucha beer, exotic imported pronouns, and all-you-can-burn carbon offsets? There’s still one way to make good on your promise: you can invent the greatest TV show in the history of mankind. Sound difficult? Not in the least. I’ll walk you through the process.

Step one: We need to pick a plausible “high concept”—something very relatable, very now. Let’s brainstorm. What’s relatable and “right now?” High school, for one. “Won’t anybody think about the children?” goes the lament. You bet we will. Almost everybody is trying to emulate those cool kids who comprise our nation’s latest youth movement. And what do those cool high school kids have that the clueless old fogeys in our target demographic want? The latest in advanced technology: fresh new genders, Oculus Rifts, TikTok videos, unlaced high-top shoes, do-rags, boomboxes, scooters, neon shades, and so much other great stuff. There you have it: Our soon-to-be smash hit The Tech Boyzz (the second “z” is for marketing purposes) is ready for development.

Step two: Now it’s time to come up with the aesthetic for our show. Let’s make this one of those “documentary-style” sitcoms that viewers love so much, except we’ll give it an incredibly intrusive laugh track that’ll remind out-of-touch losers like your parents when they need to start guffawing. No one will ever explain, even in passing, why the show’s filmed this way—it’s just a vehicle for our cute-as-a-button lead Tech Boy to wink, wink, wink at the camera and pretend to be a 16-year-old despite the fact that he’s pushing 40. In fact, we want all of the actors playing these characters to be industry veterans, because who better than an established, middle-aged thespian to play a horndog teenager? We’ll give preference to actors who’ve spent their entire careers playing such horndog teenage roles, because that’ll make their new, identical roles easier for our realism-obsessed viewers to swallow.

Step three: It’s time to sketch out the dramatis personae. Based on their preference for well-developed characters like the people on the CSI shows and whatever’s going on with American Dad, it’s clear that our viewers have high expectations in this regard. But don’t worry, because we’re about to render our Tech Boyzz as vividly as if they were recurring players in the beloved daily comic “Gil Thorp” (or, better still, “Mary Worth”).

The four main Boyzz are Lance, Dance, Chance and Rance. They want the same things that we think all kids in their age group want: to get picked first in gym class, post a banger of a video on social media, check their privileges, land a hot date for the prom, and have hours of downtime to play the latest Madden. The personalities of these kids are totally unique, which you’ll be able to tell from the clothing they wear.

Rance is real cool and always wears his favorite pair of neon shades. Dance is also extremely cool and doesn’t go anywhere without his favorite skateboard—and he’s gay or perhaps just very campy, though the show will never spell this out in a way that offends the older viewers who might stumble across this show while channel surfing. Chance is a cool-as-a-cucumber customer who wears they/their favorite electronic keyboard around they/their waist at all times; don’t you misgender Chance! And Lance, the leader of the group, wears his ball cap backwards and carries around his favorite skateboard. Thanks to our research in the public schools of tomorrow, their language is “with it” too. They’re always saying cool new phrases like “cheugy,” “salt bae,” “Kony 2012,” “Darfur,” “yes, boy,” and “smell ya later” to one another. Imagine the catchphrase potential!

Step four: Here’s where we’ll need to come up with some gripping stories to move The Tech Boyzz from episode one to episode 22. This can be a pain, since it involves a modicum of work, but our high concept is so good that the show will more or less write itself.

In the first episode, Rance will find himself struggling to finish his term paper in time for the big fall dance. How the heck will he do it? The paper’s about the various human rights violations and war crimes of the Massachusetts settlers and there appears to be no easy way he can get it done. But suddenly, he decides to use his cellular phone—all the kids have “cellys” with which they “hit up” one another—and “hits up” Dance, who comes over and flamboyantly connects his 14.4 bps MAX modem to the World Wide Web. Even with Rance’s mom getting super crabby about their hogging the phone line because she needs to call to make her hair appointment, they manage to use the Mosaic web browser and the Gopher protocol to copy and paste some facts into Rance’s report—just in the nick of time, too.

In another episode, the Tech Boyzz are at a showing of one of those asteroid disaster movies that were all the rage once upon a time. The movie’s okay, but the Tech Boyzz want to gossip about school stuff. They try to talk in the theater, but a jerky grown-up shushes them. Suddenly Chance has an idea: They use their “celly” to send a text to Lance. OMG! Problem solved. Score another one for the Tech Boyzz.

And the tech-themed plot lines go on and on like that. The pedagogical value of the show is tremendous in terms of teaching kids (i.e., 40-year-old millennials and other middle-aged “kids at heart”) as well as clueless baby boomers about the latest technologies, so you shouldn’t have a problem in terms of placing it with a network for geriatrics like CBS. As far as I can tell, it’s a fantastic idea with huge upside potential and absolutely no downside risk. Once you’ve sold it and made your millions, you can “dial up” the Internet and “electronic-mail” me a thank-you letter.

Believe it or not, I was part of the team that wrote an actual treatment for this show—a treatment in which we sketched out an entire first season of killer content. Here’s a look at what might have been.

Episode 1: "Term-paper Turmoil." Rance faces a dilemma; he needs to complete a term paper on the human rights violations of the Pilgrims before the big Thanksgiving dance. With the help of Dance's flamboyant technical expertise, they manage to dial-up to the World Wide Web. Despite hogging the family phone line and enduring his mom's grumblings, Rance completes the paper just in time, thanks to Mosaic web browser and Gopher protocol.

Episode 2: "Silent Gossip": The Tech Boyzz are eager to discuss the latest school gossip while watching an asteroid disaster movie. When an irate adult shushes them, Chance comes to the rescue by texting Lance. The Boys communicate quietly via text, circumventing the obstacle and enjoying the movie until they decide to go outside and sleep in the lobby.

Episode 3: "Viral Intentions": Lance decides it's time to break the internet with a viral video. The group tries a series of trending challenges, such as chugging heavy cream and microwaving metal objects, but repeatedly fail. Finally, they decide to mix all the challenges into one video, leading to unexpected viral success, thus making them overnight school celebrities as well as patients at the local hospital.

Episode 4: "Skatepark Showdown": Dance faces scrutiny from local skateboarders who question his credentials. Forced into a skateboarding showdown, Dance discovers he can skate better when he embraces his unique, campy style, winning the respect of his peers. John Waters (or someone like him) makes a cameo appearance.

Episode 5: "Prom Drama": With prom season coming, Chance becomes increasingly anxious. They don't want to be misgendered, and more importantly, they want to secure a hot date. Chance decides to take their beloved Tamagotchi virtual pet to the prom, leading to an unexpectedly wonderful prom experience.

Episode 6: "Throwback Thursday": A school project has the Boyzz exploring technology from the past. They end up getting caught in a time loop after becoming obsessed with a ROM of Custer’s Revenge, an X-rated Atari video game from the 1980s. The episode is a surreal, laugh-track-laden journey through various historical periods.

Episode 7: "Gamer's Paradise": Rance gets addicted to a new VR game and starts to detach from reality after creating an avatar that resembles Demi Lovato. The Boyzz intervene, leading Rance to a realization about balance between the digital and the real world. Meanwhile, Chance announces to their classmates that they’re now “going steady” with their Tamagotchi.

Episode 8: "Social Justice 101": The Boyzz confront social issues in school, including checking their own privileges using the “wheel of privilege.” The episode weaves in and out of serious and comical tones, with the boys eventually leading a social justice rally that turns absurdly chaotic when the Boyzz can’t remember whose interests they’re trying to support.

Episode 9: "TikTok Timebomb": Lance becomes envious of a fellow student whose TikTok dances are taking over the school. Driven by rivalry, Lance challenges him to a dance-off, only to discover that collaboration beats competition after they pool their creator revenue and use it to pay a company in Makati City to deepfake their subsequent videos.

Episode 10: "Synth-tastic Adventure": Chance discovers that their electronic keyboard has magical powers. They, their beloved Tamagotchi, and the Boyzz are led on a cosmic journey, confronting digitalized versions of their worst fears—Rance is afraid of breath (all kinds), Dance can’t make left-hand turns, Chance hates all the people out in “meatspace,” and Lance is against chill—and eventually emerging stronger.

Episode 11: "Cybersecurity Blues": The Boyzz fall victim to a hacker who makes their lives miserable by leaking their private chatroom conversations, spreading embarrassing content and possibly even getting them “canceled.” While “flooding the zone” on social media to stave off cancellation, the Boyzz become cyber-detectives to find the culprit and regain their dignity. After discovering that it was Chance’s Tamagotchi trying to “punk” them, they all share a good laugh and learn important lessons about posting.

Episode 12: "Environmental Boyzz": Keenly aware of the latest trends, the Tech Boyzz realize their carbon footprint is alarming. They take up an impossible challenge to be carbon neutral for a week. Hilarity ensues as they navigate the complications, eventually winding up back in the hospital after passing out from a combination of starvation and dehydration.

Episode 13: "The Grand Finale": The Boyzz find out that their school is to be demolished to make way for an Amazon distribution center. They use their tech skills, newfound social wisdom, and the power of social media to rally their peers and raise awareness about the plight of their school. Although the school is demolished anyway—you can’t stop progress!—the Boyzz successfully launch a cyber charter school that the local transhumanist, tradcath tech magnate promises he’ll fund in exchange for full control of the curriculum. A season-ending cliffhanger suggests a new adventure ahead.

In its first season, The Tech Boyzz not only provides comic relief but also brings forth pertinent issues like technology addiction, social justice, and environmental sustainability, all packaged in a digestible, laugh-track heavy format. These episodes are likely to entertain, educate, and even inspire debates among its audience, from somewhat tech-savvy millennials to ill-informed, channel-surfing baby boomers.


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