Justin Halpern
My Television Show Was Cancelled. Fuck.

Yesterday I received a call alerting me that Fox would “not be going forward” with Surviving Jack, the show I co-created with my writing partner Patrick Schumacker, and have been working on in some fashion for the past three years.  (By the way, executives never say “cancelled.”  It’s always “Not going forward,” as if that somehow softens the blow. It’d be like someone breaking up with you and instead of just saying we need to break up they say “Unfortunately I’ve decided to stop going forward with you. I just felt my genitals were going in a different direction.”)  

This show meant a ton to me. I don’t like saying shit like “It was my baby,” because I have a baby and that’s my baby. If Kevin Reilly cancelled my actual baby I would be inconsolable, but that would never happen because that’s not a real thing and my baby does incredibly well in the 18-49 demo.

(My baby was the highest testing baby at this Costco)

So, though it wasn’t the equivalent of my child, it was as important to me as any non-living thing could be.  I spent most of my waking hours thinking about how to make the show as good as it could be, which is probably the reason why my baby points at a lamp in our living room when my wife asks him “Who’s your daddy?” 

(In fairness, this lamp provides a lot of warmth and is more fun to play with than I am.)

So after all those countless hours spent working, it’s pretty easy to get pissed off and forget a few of the most important things about getting to make this television show.  First, the writing staff of this show was fantastic.  They made me laugh all day, every day, and really gave a fuck about the show. And these were all smart and funny people who could have easily given a partial fuck and no one would have said anything. They gave the full fuck. 

(Although apparently they didn’t give a fuck about posing for this picture.)

Secondly, I’ve never worked with a more talented and dedicated cast. Chris Meloni is as good as it gets.  I will sum up very quickly for you why I love Chris Meloni and would kill to work with him again. On sitcoms, there are a finite amount of jokes that you can fit into 22 minutes. Most actors, understandably, would like to have as many of those jokes as possible.  Some will even torpedo the scene if they feel like they’re not getting enough jokes.  I was at a table read for another show where I saw an actor read through their lines as if they were an actual robot, (not “like” one, an actual beep-boop fucking robot) in protest of the number of jokes they had.  So, one day on set Chris pulls me aside and says “I think this joke I have could be a lot funnier if you took the punch line away from me and gave it to Rachael. Like, I set her up and then she comes in with the punchline.  Seems kind of medium funny if I do it all myself.”  That may seem like nothing to you, but I’ve NEVER seen the lead of a show do that. It’s the equivalent of an investment banker saying “You know what, let’s not push this shitty sub-prime security on this investor.  It’s not great for the overall health of our nation.”  THAT SHIT DON’T HAPPEN.   

(Bernie Madoff would totally want all the blows of scenes to be his.)

Having Rachael Harris on the show was like having a writer on set the entire time.  She’s like some kind of machine that takes jokes, process them, then spits out a better version.  I always knew that no matter how much trouble we were having writing a scene, if we could just get the basic structure of it to Rachael, she could make it funny.  Plus, she’s just fucking lovely to work with.  

The kids on the show, Connor Buckley, Claudia Lee, Tyler Foden, Kevin Hernandez, and Lili Reinhart were always professional, prepared, and just way more mature than I would have been.  For Christ’s sake, we had three teenage boys on set, and not one of them got in trouble for trying to fuck an extra.  And if you don’t think that’s impressive, I’ll tell you that I’ve worked with grown men who supposedly have control of their hormones, that have tried to make a threesome happen during a fifteen minute re-lighting of a scene.  They were all talented kids who didn’t just shit out some Disney-fied performance or overdo the energy like they were hosting some Nickelodeon prank show where they replaced unknowing people’s food with boogers. They thought about the material and gave real performances.

(That hot dog you just ate??? THAT’S A BOOGER DOG BRO!)

Lastly, I noticed after the cancellation that I received a bunch of messages from fans saying “For what it’s worth, my family really liked the show.”  Look, I’ve loved television and known I’ve wanted to work in it since I was still in daipers, (which was around 3, but also a week when I was ten, don’t ask.)  If television shows were only seen by fifty people (LIKE SURVIVING JACK WAS JUSTIN??? HAHAH FUCK YOU) it wouldn’t be the unbelievable job that it is.  Getting the messages from fans saying that the show made them laugh is like heroin except for the sucking dick for it part.  (I won’t suck dick for laughs, guys.) The outpouring of support for this show made all the work we did, all the time we spent trying to make jokes and stories that much better, at midnight on a Friday, mean something. So, I thank you. If you want to know what it’s worth, the answer is this: an incredible amount.

Lastly, although I feel shitty about the end result, I am one of the lucky motherfuckers that was allowed to make a TV show.  Six years ago I was living with my parents.  My possessions were as follows: an air mattress and 30% of a 1999 Ford Ranger. That’s it.  So although I won’t get a chance to make anymore episodes of this show, it’s basically a downright fucking miracle that I was able to make any.  I am insanely proud of this show and the work that Patrick, I, Bill Callahan, Bill Lawrence, the writing staff, and the cast and crew did.  Thank you for watching the show and supporting it, and now I’m going to try and convince my baby that I love him more than a lamp. 

  1. weirdlylifeismymiddlename reblogged this from survivingjack
  2. isjustthatway reblogged this from justinhalpern
  3. brenda1093 reblogged this from justinhalpern
  4. theshowstoppa reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    yeah… this show was fucking hilarious. my wife and i loved the shit out of it, and then fox, even though it had an...
  5. justwantedtotellyou reblogged this from justinhalpern
  6. youjustgotdaved reblogged this from popculturebrain
  7. russellmiller reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    Solid recap of a show that was just finding its footing when there was no more “going forward.” I Suck At Girls is still...
  8. sitzfimmonss reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    Really going to miss this show. Great “real” characters and funny as hell. Hope another network picks this up, but if...
  9. spike25 reblogged this from justinhalpern
  10. mrs-elliotstabler reblogged this from eoismyotp
  11. jennyyangjokes reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    i’m srsly mad #SurvivingJack got cancelled. so funny such a fun show w great characters @justin_halpern
  12. bythecowardrobertford reblogged this from popculturebrain
  13. majomoyano reblogged this from survivingjack
  14. iflovewasaplane reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    No joke, one of the best shows I have ever seen and I was very depressed to learn that it had been cancelled. From this...
  15. stevebarden reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    This was a great show. Great cast and great writing. Not your typical sitcom. The network knuckleheads that made this...
  16. scott-drop-and-roll reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
  17. theshinyinternets reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    This show is magical and immediately became a weekly ritual in our house. Every detail was magnificent, from Chris...
  18. rachthescholar reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    Your show was childhood revisited! I hope to the all that’s holy you and your staff create something just as amazingly...
  19. paperaddicted reblogged this from justinhalpern and added:
    this was the best fucking sitcom i’ve seen in a while, sad that it won’t be continuing. Can I hope Netflix falls in love...
  20. bring-it-about reblogged this from justinhalpern
  21. goddammitdylanobrien reblogged this from thelaughingmagician
  22. stumbletendon reblogged this from justinhalpern