Here is a quick guide for all you wannabe writers who want to pen a hit US kids TV series! It’s simple – all you need to do is follow this easy step-by-step writing process:
Create your characters:
The lead role – the “ordinary” girl who most kids will want to be. Someone smart, but not clever enough to make other kids hate her. The girl next door. Pretty, but not stunning. A positive, likeable girl. Freckles optional, but recommended.
The sidekick – the feisty, quirky friend. Could be male or female. Fiercely loyal, but obviously has a lot to learn and gets the lead role into trouble a lot. The female friend must be slightly boyish. The male friend slightly feminine.
The crush – devastatingly handsome and the object of the lead role’s affections. He never seems to realise it, though, and remains painfully unaware of her feelings.
The admirer – the lead role’s geeky admirer who is treated with a vague tolerance. Obviously, at the end of the series, the lead character will suddenly realise that the admirer was the right person for her all along.
The nemesis – a very good-looking girl who bizarrely has something against the lead character, ultimately showing that beauty is on the inside. Seems to get what is coming to them in every episode and yet never seems to learn a lesson, because they’re back to their old behaviour the very next week.
Range of ethnic characters – the rest of the cast should be comprised of lots of different types of people who should all conform to some loose stereotype. Black = sassy and cool. Asian = geeky and super-intelligent. Canadian = a bit slow, but kind-hearted. British = haughty and posh with bad teeth (usually evil, but not always). French = romantic and just a tiny bit sleazy. Other ethnicity/nationality = stereotype, but with a slight twist to show that you’re not stereotyping people.
Follow the vitally important US kids show rules:
- There must be a unique selling point – eg. They can time travel, they have a pet dinosaur, they are incredibly rich, they have a superpower, they are a secret pop star, they can turn into a dog… the possibilities are endless.
- The plots should be over-the-top, but also should contain elements that kids can relate to in their lives.
- Their lives must revolve around modern culture, modern gadgets, fast food, the latest pop music and will appear to be fabulously rich (apart from when they want something badly, in which case they will instantly be completely broke and will need to go to desperate measures to earn money) without any explanation of how their amazingly privileged lives and brand new things are funded.
- Even though the characters are in their early teens, they talk with the intelligence and vocabulary of somebody twice their age. They are also horribly rude to each other and to the adults but never get chastised by adults for their obnoxious attitudes.
- A patronising lesson should be learned by at least one of the characters per episode.
- There will be a constant barrage of canned laughter, piped continuously and loudly throughout the show, even when the jokes aren’t funny (95% of the time).
- Adults will be portrayed at all times as being either stupid, arrogant or pompous. They will always have their come-uppance. There will always be one likeable adult character, however, but they will be at least partially child-like in attitude.
And finally, most importantly of all, you must remember:
It must be mind-numbingly shit and annoy the hell out of every adult who is forced to watch it.
Follow the above steps and – congratulations! You’re a US kids show writer and will have yourself a hit show that Nickelodeon or The Disney Channel will pay you literally tens of dollars for. You will never be hired for any other writing again, but that’s a small price to pay for success!