We’ll all have to wait until mid-May to know exactly which of the dozens of pilots commissioned by each of the U.S. TV networks will be lucky enough to make into their new season lineup. And we’ll have to wait even longer– until October–to see which ones will make into full-season orders.
But among the comedy contenders, we’re already seeing plenty of trends.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems the shaky global economy is having an effect on comedy writers, with many pilot stars facing unemployment.
ABC’s Untitled Kari Lizer Project follows a high-powered female executive who find herself unemployed and acting as a stay-at-home mom to two teenagers.
NBC’s Downwardly Mobile revolves around a mobile home park, which many of its residents are forced into thanks to the tough economy.
Over on CBS, an ensemble comedy, now known as the Untitled Louis C.K. and Spike Feresten Project, revolves around a group of young people trying to achieve their creative dreams in tough financial times (a sentiment we expect many viewers can relate to).
Also on CBS, an Untitled Martin Lawrence Project follows a widowed dad who loses his job in construction and decides to join the police academy.
The Eye’s Untitled Larry Dorf and Ben Falcone Project stars a single 37-year-old who loses everything during the real estate collapse and must move in with his parents.
The theme of grown adults moving in with their parents pops up all over the pilots this season. How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, commissioned by ABC, revolves around a single mom who moves in her with her eccentric parents.
Another comedy that involves strange roommate pairings as a result of a financial crises is Fox’s El Jefe, which centers on a guy from a wealthy family who’s kicked out of the family home (for never making his own way) and winds up living with his family’s housekeeper.
Following in the vein of 2011-2012 ABC comedy Suburgatory, the alphabet network has several commissioned pilots that revolve around suburban outcasts. American Judy follows a cosmopolitan woman who becomes a fish out of water in the suburbs and The Manzanis stars Kirstie Alley as the matriarch of an Italian-American family that clashes with their WASPy neighbors in a New Jersey suburb. But the title of strangest suburban residents goes to ABC’s Untitled Dan Fogelman Project, about a New Jersey-based gated community populated by aliens.
In the movie industry, much has been made of the success of Bridesmaids and the commercial appeal of female buddy comedies (a genre traditionally limited to men). It seems the TV industry is also looking to monetize on the “women can be funny” idea, with Super Fun Night, a CBS comedy pilot that revolves around a trio of nerdy friends who embark on a quest to party every Friday night. ABC’s Counter Culture follows three aging sisters who run their family diner in Texas.
Several of comedy’s biggest female stars are behind – and/or starring in – 2012-2013 season pilots. The Office writer Mindy Kaling writes, executive produces and stars in Fox’s Mindy, which is being described as a “Bridget Jones-style” comedy about an OBGYN trying to navigate her personal and professional life.
Tough talking comedienne Sarah Silverman stars (and writes and produces) Susan 313, an NBC comedy pilot loosely based on Silverman’s life, about readjusting to single life after a decade-long relationship.
Everyone’s favorite daytime TV host, Ellen DeGeneres, is executive producing ABC’s The Smart One about a smart woman who goes to work for her less-than-brainy beauty queen sister who’s now a mayor (the show also stars DeGeneres’s wife Portia De Rossi).
And, finally, controversial comedienne Roseanne Barr is also back in primetime, as the star (and co-writer and executive producer) of NBC’s Downwardly Mobile, in which she plays the proprietor of the mobile home park (she stars alongside former Roseanne co-star John Goodman).
Sounds like whatever gets picked up, we’ll have plenty to keep us laughing well into the new year.