Crisis Averted: CBS Declines to Pick Up “Shh! Don’t Tell Steve”
March 8, 2011 Leave a comment
One of the best things on Twitter just came dangerously close to being one of the worst things on television.
You remember “Shit My Dad Says,” right? That amazing Twitter feed that was supposedly written by a 29 year old guy living at home with his irrepressible father? Only then, it got picked up for a book deal, and it turned out that the author was a comedy writer who had spent decades compiling his dad’s best sayings, instead of just writing them down on the fly. Though that wasn’t especially objectionable, it kind of ruined the myth of the whole thing.
Then the book became a CBS show. A really awful CBS show starring William Shatner, called “Bleep My Dad Says.”
It is unadulterated shite. And you don’t have to take my word for it, here’s America’s best TV critic Tim Goodman:
From this moment forward, nobody at CBS should be allowed on the Internet. A memo should go out, telling all employees – particularly those with the power to green-light shows – to stay off social media…
And you, dear audience, should not have your interest piqued just because William Shatner is involved. Shatner is today what Betty White will be less than two years from now. Over. And both of you – network and audience – should know that turning 140-character rants from a cranky old man into a fully formed sitcom is nearly impossible, no matter how much the laugh track gets sweetened. Face it, “$#*! My Dad Says” was a bad idea from inception to pilot.
You ruined it. Stay off the Internet. Someone could steal your Social Security number.
And yet, for some inexplicable reason, every terrible show that airs on CBS pulls down an insane rating.
“Bleep” is a massive hit. It gets 10 million viewers an episode. It won a People’s Choice award. Despite its awfulness, it’s nowhere close to being canceled. So not only did CBS ruin one of the best feeds on Twitter, it ruined it in a sustainable way, rubbing it in our faces, constantly reminding us “You used to like this!” and filling us with shame.
Then they came for “Shh! Don’t Tell Steve.”
“Shh! Don’t Tell Steve,” aka @shhdonttellsteve, is reason enough to sign up for Twitter. It’s a feed composed by a fairly straitlaced fellow who lives with a boorish roommate named Steve, and found an outlet for dealing with his roommate’s obnoxiousness by secretly reporting his activities to the Internet.
Most people have had an annoying roommate like Steve, but even if you haven’t, it’s pure comedy gold.
Steve is a one-of-a-kind character, documented in brilliant and telling detail by his exasperated and anonymous roommate.
He’s a lunkhead who loves to pound brews, eat microwaveable pizza rolls, mack the ladies, and sing along to bad hip-hop. Through the Twitter feed, we learn more about Steve and follow his life. His fumbled courtship of the woman dubbed “Burrito Girl” (based on her job at a Mexican place) was compelling and ultimately tragic. His search for a new job was highly entertaining. His friends, like Aggro Tony, sound like the last kind of people you would want in your apartment. Steve occasionally works on a screenplay called “Party Spy,” with a main character who is obviously based on Steve himself.
You have to feel bad for the roommate for enduring cohabitation with Steve, and yet, the fruits of this experience are riotously funny. The roommate has a way of capturing the best of Steve’s idiocy while subtly egging him on at the same time.
Another great character in the narrative is Shelly, the author’s platonic female friend who is in on the joke and often provides knowing commentary. She tries to help Steve grow up a bit, but our buddy Steve proves impervious to these efforts.
As the story has continued, it has grown increasingly intense, as Steve’s Roommate continues to hide the existence of the by now hugely popular (over 20,000 followers) Twitter feed from Steve. At one point, Steve overheard his roommate and Shelly joking about “Steve Fans” and proceeded to pout for several days, until the roommate threw a Beer Bust and cheered him up again.
But what began as a coping mechanism has clearly developed into a guilty conscience, as in this excerpt from a drunken Truth or Dare game:
Basically, this Twitter feed is one of the best demonstrations of the potential of microblogging. In its succinctness and wit, its real-time updating, and its anonymity, “Shh! Don’t Tell Steve” epitomizes everything that makes Twitter a must-join website. It’s hilarious, and it’s real, and it’s happening as we read it.
And then something horrible transpired.
CBS and Ashton Kutcher announced that they were looking into turning Steve’s roommate’s Twitter feed into a half-hour sitcom.
While fans were left wondering what Ashton Kutcher had been busy with following his alleged cheating, Kutcher reportedly kept himself occupied with developing a new TV series based on another Twitter feed.
Kutcher will again produce another Twitter-inspired TV series for CBS. It will be called “Shh Don’t Tell Steve.” It is based on a Twitter account of the same name which currently has more than 18,000 followers.
The series will follow the adventures of a man and his jobless, drunken roommate he tweets about, but does not know his life is the subject of his roommate’s tweets.
The crisis intensified when “NCIS”, a CBS production, incorporated a reference into one of its shows in a wooden and humorless exchange totally typical of CBS fare:
Just as I was really thinking this was actually going to happen — that one of the best things on Twitter was going to turn into another horrible, embarrassing, cringeworthy CBS sitcom — Steve’s roommate told the story today of his dalliance with the entertainment industry.
It ended with CBS’ decision not to pick up the show.
Luckily, “Party Spy” might still be happening:
And Steve still doesn’t know about the Twitter feed.
So on this day when we celebrate the fact that CBS will not be ruining “Shh! Don’t Tell Steve,” let us raise our glasses to Steve’s roommate. He’s made us laugh, made us cry when he almost sold out to the worst television network known to man, and made us wonder just how exactly he plans to break the news to Steve.
He may not have landed a TV deal, but I bet there’s a book deal in his future, plenty of success, and one very awkward conversation.
In the meantime, he’s the one stuck living with one of the most notorious characters on the Internet. And for that, we salute him.