MAN SEEKING WOMAN: Simon Rich on Adapting 'The Last Girlfriend on Earth' For FXX - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

MAN SEEKING WOMAN: Simon Rich on Adapting ‘The Last Girlfriend on Earth’ For FXX

January 14, 2015 by  

MAN SEEKING WOMAN - Key ArtFXX is launching MAN SEEKING WOMAN, a new (insane/hilarious) comedy, tonight at 10:30 PM, and it’s unlike anything on television. Sure, the series — which is based off of Simon Rich’s book “The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories” — tells the story of a man re-entering the dating world, but how many other shows would have the man going on a date with a literal troll? Or have the man’s ex-girlfriend start dating Hitler? (Yes, that Hitler.)

I sat down with MAN SEEKING WOMAN creator Rich to talk about the adaptation of his book for television, the insane things to come (aliens and Japanese penis monsters), and more…

What was the biggest change for you as you were adapting the book into a television series?
Simon Rich: There are so many more weapons in TV and film. You have special effects, you have a creature shop, and the biggest weapon, of course, is that you have actors to bring life and realism into everything you’ve written. I have five or six more tools in my tool box, all of a sudden.

You also have a writers’ room at your disposal. How has that been trying to balance your very specific tone for the show/the story, while still having them leave their own imprint on it as well?
SR: I also have great writers doing some of the work! I think that at the end of the day, I found incredibly versatile writers. Our show bounces around a lot from genre to genre. We have some scenes that take place in a horror movie landscape, we have some scenes that take place during an alien apocalypse. Some scenes are on ice.

It’s a challenging show to write for, so I just like that I was able to put together an all-star room: Ian Maxtone-Graham, from THE SIMPSONS; Rob Padnick, from THE OFFICE; Sofia Alvarez, one of my favorite New York City playwrights. It’s been thrilling to write with them. I read probably over 100 samples when I was trying to staff this room, and  I ended up with a real dream team. I’m really psyched about it.

[MAN SEEKING WOMAN] requires a bunch of skills I call upon: you have to be great at writing high-stakes, funny, but they have to also make sure the scenes are always emotionally honest, that the plot is character-driven, that the arcs stay consistent. I needed to find basically top-notch sitcom writers, with sketch comedy skills.

What can you say about the shape of the season? Is it more of a year-long arc, or does it showcase more individual/standalone stories?
SR: It’s a pretty traditional. You follow Josh (Jay Baruchel) — in the pilot, he returns to the dating world, and has success and failures with various women. He gets set up by his big sister, he gets advice from his best friend. Obviously, it’s a very strange show: there’s aliens, there’s a Japanese penis monster, there’s decapitations and dismemberments. But at the end of the day, it’s a very simple show.

When you have something like a Japanese penis monster on your show, was there anything FX told you that you couldn’t do?
SR: I’ve never had this kind of creative freedom outside of [writing for] the “New Yorker.” [FX President] John Landgraf and FX, they understood the show from the moment I pitched it to them, and they supported us every step of the way. It really is a dream come true, how supportive they’ve been.

Given the truly extraordinary things Josh faces — and no one around him bats an eye — how should viewers see the world? Should they be wondering if something is wrong with him, or if this is simply the world he lives in?
SR: As the show progresses and you see more episodes, hopefully, people will come to see the world as [he does]. There are couple of sitcoms I always look to for inspiration — THE SIMPSONS, for instance. And [it] does a great job of inserting supernatural things into those shows. They’re animated shows, and we’re a live-action show, but I feel like comedically, and emotionally, those are our touchstones. Because they put space aliens into the show, and they can make a big story about it. It’s our hope that it can still be emotional [even with the wacky things].

MAN SEEKING WOMAN airs Wednesdays at 10:30 PM on FXX.

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