August 14, 2013



Read All Our Fall Pilot Reports here and Midseason Pilot Reports here.

SUPER FUN NIGHT:  Wednesday 9:30PM on ABC starting October 2 – If Nothing Else Is On…

Disclaimer: Network pilots now in circulation aren’t necessarily in their final form. It’s not unusual for pilots to be reedited and re-scored, and in some cases even recast or reshot, before hitting the air. Consider these reports to be guides to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.

Anyone who’s seen Rebel Wilson confidently walk away with chunks of Pitch Perfect, Bachelorette or Bridesmaids knows that she’s a breakout comic talent, and possibly even a mainstream star.  ABC is certainly of that opinion, and the network has given her new comedy SUPER FUN NIGHT, of the seeming dozens that the network is launching this fall, its crown jewel timeslot, with the mighty Modern Family as its lead-in.  But not every inspired comic is meant to star in a network sitcom, not every show automatically matches well with a current hit, and Super Fun Night, despite all the good will Wilson has earned, is at the very least in need of a lot of work.

More than any other recent network series, Super Fun Night resembles Ugly Betty, with Wilson (who created the show, originally developed as a multi-camera for CBS, but transformed into an ABC single camera effort) as Betty–but without the ethnicity, as the Australian Wilson speaks as Kimmie with a not-great American accent. As with Betty, Kimmie’s career is more promising than her love life.  She’s wildly enthusiastic about having just gotten a promotion to a junior position at the job of her dreams (in high-finance, rather than fashion) even though she doesn’t exactly fit in there, and like Betty, Kimmie instantly falls for the handsome son of the firm’s boss, here the British Richard (Kevin Bishop), who just as instantly knows there’s something about this girl that’s special.  (Also as in Ugly Betty, our heroine has a nasty, duplicitous foe at the company, but the role, played by Kelen Coleman in the pilot, is being recast and reconfigured for future episodes.)  To all this, Wilson has added an inverse Sex and the City element, as Kimmie’s BFFs are even more socially maladjusted than she is:  Helen-Alice (Lauren Ash) gets panic attacks in public, while Marika (Liza Lapira) thinks the only exciting bar is a pasta bar.  (Marika’s sexuality is also unclear, as the pilot sends out mixed signals about her possible attraction to Kimmie.)  The trio has a standing date to gather together on Friday nights and do nerdy things like watch TV marathons, but Kimmie’s new job and an invitation from Richard brings them out of the apartment for a doomed attempt to get into a fancy club.

Although Wilson won’t be showrunning the series herself, this isn’t one of those cases where a new creative voice will be coming in after the pilot to potentially change things, because showrunner John Riggi (a veteran writer/producer of 30 Rock and Will & Grace, among others) directed the pilot.  That makes it harder to hope that Super Fun Night will be a a bit more modulated post-pilot.  The show is heavy on broad performances and slapstick, up to and including Wilson in electrically flashing underwear by the end of the half-hour, and an extended sequence where she tries to staple the torn ends of her skirt together and apparently manages to staple a more sensitive area instead.  This isn’t necessarily Wilson in her best context–as in Pitch Perfect, she’s most effective when she’s the wild card among a group of relatively low-key people, not so much when everyone is as cartoonish as she is.  After a while, you wish everyone in Super Fun Night would just take half a Xanax.

Thanks to Wilson, Super Fun Night has some charm, and it’s worth seeing whether the show finds a more cohesive voice over the course of its first few episodes.  But it’s an uncomfortable fit with the much more realistically-scaled Modern Family, not to mention that Fun Night is almost entirely pitched to a female audience, unlike its all-inclusive lead-in.  The series will obviously be sampled, but ABC might have been better served by letting it simmer in a less high-profile spot for a while, instead of one where ratings patience may run thin quickly.  (It’s also unlikely to do much for Nashville, which follows it at 10PM.)  Sometimes a network, seeking to do a new show a favor, throws it into the fire instead, and for all Rebel Wilson’s charisma and talent, the network life of Super Fun Night may not turn out to be an enjoyable experience for anyone.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."