The Pilot Pirate: “I Hate That I Love You,” “Iceland”


Welcome to the The Pilot Pirate, a new column on previewing the latest scripts looking for a home on the 2011-12 primetime TV schedule. Each week, we’ll read and preview projects of interest to the AfterEllen community, breaking down the script to help you, the optimistic TV fan anxiously awaiting the next Modern Family or Glee, keep up with the onslaught of pilots in contention.

A reminder: These are early stage scripts that are likely to be revised and, in some cases, drastically change before filming, and only some of which will make it to the airwaves.

Pilot: I Hate That I Love You

Writer: Jhoni Marchinko (writing credits include 16 episodes of NBC’s Will & Grace, four episodes of Murphy Brown)

Network: NBC

Logline: A straight couple introduces two of its lesbian friends to one another and what results is both instant attraction and a pregnancy.

Cast: No castings yet.

The characters:

Brad, 30, straight owner of a spinning studio

Allie, 30, Brad’s lesbian roommate, and manager of Barney’s shoe department.

Missy, 30, the cargo-shorts wearing straight owner of Floral and Hardy.

Sarah, 30, the “sexy, sporty, tom-boyish” lesbian who’s also trendy and hip; lives and works with Missy

If there’s one thing former Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt likes, it’s lesbians. During his tenure at the pay cabler, the executive helped shepherd such series as The L Word and its reality show spinoff, The Real L Word to the air. And now that he’s at NBC, he’s doing the same with I Hate That I Love You.

While I’m not one to argue with anything that brings lesbian characters, story lines or even an entire show revolving around them to primetime, I hate that I hated this script. I had high hopes for a lesbian equivalent of ABC’s Modern Family, but this project just isn’t it on any level.

My main issue with Hate is the humor — the jokes are cliché and stereotypical. We’ve all heard the stereotypes: all lesbians love cats; we all know each other; we’ve all dated someone in common; we’re all handy. So it’s no surprise that there’s a failed attempt at humor surrounding each. Allie and Sarah both dated the same girl. Lesbians are handy and gossip over changing tires! But the biggest offender? The two-for-one joke where Brad and Missy discuss what a small world it is that they both have lesbian roommates:

Brad: In L.A. you can’t swing a cat without hitting three lesbians.

Missy: Yeah, and they’re usually trying to rescue the three cats.

Cue crickets.

Thankfully, we’ve been spared the tired U-Haul joke.

So how do we wind up with a pregnancy in 40 pages? Oh yeah, another bad lesbian joke: The only reason any woman is gay is because they haven’t had good sex with a man. And yes, there’s booze involved.

Pilot Pirate outlook: Pass.

Pilot: Iceland (comedy)

Writer: Andy Bobrow (writing credits include producing — and writing two episodes — of NBC’s Community, writing 15 episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and co-producing Samantha Who?)

Network: Fox

Logline: Comedy centering on a group of friends who are reunited and nurture each other after the death of one of their own.

Cast: No castings yet.

The characters:

Mackenzie, mid-20s, described as a “young Maura Tierney type,” who was engaged to Max, the deceased

Rose, mid-20s, Latina, a sap with a huge heart; Mackenzie’s oldest friend and roommate

Todd, mid-20s, nerdy guy with poor social skills

Harry, mid-20s, man-child, Max’s best friend

Jenn, the newbie to the group who connects with Rose

One of the things that makes shows like Community and Parks and Recreation work is the snappy and original perspective in which the characters communicate. That same quality is present here as the story, while still morbid, is effectively refreshing while maintaining the fine balance between funny and sad.

The comedy — which revolves around Mackenzie’s emotional well being after her fiancé, Max, suddenly dies nine months before their wedding — also features a lesbian coming out story we haven’t really seen before as the sensitive Rose meddles in the love life of another couple after getting a voicemail from a stranger that was meant for his girlfriend. When Rose, who had her sights set on Chris, goes to console Jenn after witnessing a fight with the guy had her sights set on, a lesbian couple is born.

Rose and Jenn’s realization that they’re gay — or at least their undeniable chemistry — plays out in a very refreshing and playful fashion where both women depict the “it’s about the connection” to other people element of coming out. It’s realistically written with both humor and heart and, when the guys attempt to humorously exploit it, is refreshingly and smartly shot down in a fun and sweet fashion instead of being overtly sexual and cliché.

As for the name of the series, it’s based on Mackenzie’s blog of the same title. Or her vagina, we don’t know for sure.

Pilot Pirate outlook: Fun times ahead.

Check back every Thursday for a new Pilot Pirate.

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