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Author Topic: "Community" Dungeons & Dragons Episode and idiot executives  (Read 284 times)


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I never have watched this show myself, although I watched the first half of this episode online after reading the article I'm linking to (the 2nd half is unavailable :mad:). In an extensive interview with one of the writer/producers, he talks about the studio and network resistance to doing an episode about D&D.

I was asked not to write the episode, they said “Because it won’t be an accessible topic.” I said, “I appreciate your concern, I’ll make it accessible.”  This was the studio, not the network. We spent two days writing it, and we finished it, and we read it through, these two gentlemen and I at Andrew Guest’s house. His girlfriend made us Pop-Tarts and we had a little shot of cognac or something. We’d been up all night. We almost cried because we were like, “God, that was fucking hard.” And it was so satisfying. “What a nice little story this is. Let’s get to that table-read.” And we did it. We threaded the needle. We made Dungeons & Dragons accessible. We went and table-read it, and it was a great table-read, people loved it. The director, Joe Russo, was like, “I can’t wait to shoot it. I don’t have any thoughts about how to improve it. I think it’s great.”

The studio and network response at the table-read was so removed from that. They were so upset about the crime of this episode having been written. The note session as a whole was preceded by a 45-minute period of them walking around the lot whispering to each other. They told me they would come up to my office and meet me privately. When they came up, I had the director and all of the writers in the office with me, because I was terrified. They sat down, and they said, “Look, where do we start?” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was like, “This is opposite of how you should feel right now. This is a great episode. We’re going to get a 1.7 no matter what. We will build our ratings in other ways. The episode is not about credit cards; it’s not about Hilary Duff. It’s going to get the same numbers. There is a cultural build to a hit show. We have to prove to people that we’re capable of good things so they can trust us, so that we can have a relationship. One day we will either be a highly rated show or we’ll be cancelled. It will not have to do with this moment. This episode is good, the story is good, these characters are good. Anyone who doesn’t tune in because the commercial says they’re playing Dungeons & Dragons, it’s not my fault. It’s not on me.”

It was such a depressing note session, because they didn’t even have any notes on the story. They just didn’t want it to exist.,57252/


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"Community" Dungeons & Dragons Episode and idiot executives
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2011, 10:57:36 AM »
It's audience-centric design at work. ACD is one of the most effective theories of marketing currently around, but it is used is a pernicious way by much of the entertainment industry. Instead of focusing on the specific audiences they do have, most executives try to use ACD principles on what are seen, without much reason, as the most desirable audiences, predominantly young white men who are "bros". Also, execs tend to over-read the data rigidly.

I'm sure those execs were busy complaining to one another that they had no idea who played D&D, and therefore they didn't constitute an audience (or, alternately, that D&D players were too small an audience to be targeted).
The Pernicious Light, or The Wreckers of Sword Island;
A Goblin's Progress, or Of Cannons and Canons;
An Oration on the Dignity of Tash, or On the Elves and Their Lies
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Insufficient Metal

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"Community" Dungeons & Dragons Episode and idiot executives
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2011, 11:23:21 AM »
That's too bad, but not surprising in the least.