Oscar-winning American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball says the difference between the experience of developing his upcoming HBO mortuary drama Six Feet Under (premiering in June) and that of his short-lived ABC sitcom Oh Grow Up was like "heaven and hell."
"There was too much interference and no trust in me to do what I had been hired to do," Ball tells TV Guide Online of his nightmare working with ABC on Oh Grow Up, which revolved around three buddies sharing a Big Apple pad. "[The network] is executive-heavy, bloated and there were too many notes from basically non-creative people.
"My only experience in TV prior to that point had been sitcoms — that's what I do," continues the former Cybill and Grace Under Fire scribe. "So, when it came time for me to pitch a series, I pitched [Oh Grow Up]. But the idea I had in my head was very different than what the series actually became... When you work in network TV, you get used to compromising on a daily basis."
Well, the backstage tension may help to explain why Oh Grow Up — despite its impressive pedigree — turned out to be such a stinker. When it premiered in Fall 1999, TV Guide's Matt Roush groaned: "When one of the characters is a dog named Mom who barks with subtitles, you know better than to expect subtlety." Viewers apparently agreed, as low ratings led to the show's demise after less than a season.
"I personally never thought it was as bad as some critics did," admits Ball. "It made me laugh... I thought it was clever. But was it a show that I would make a point to watch every week? No."