‘Drawn Together’ Skewers Genres

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Comedy Central will gamble this fall on an animated show whose format skewers two of basic cable’s most popular genres: reality and animation.

“Drawn Together” features a cast of cartoon archetypes (Japanese anime, the fairy-tale princess, the Saturday morning superhero) all living together in a “Real World”-style household. A drop-dead hilarious clip from the pilot episode received the most uproarious response of any preview at the Television Critics Association cable session in July, leaving Comedy Central executives hopeful they have a breakout hit on their hands.

“This is a show that I think will become our next big franchise,” said Lauren Corrao, senior VP of programming and head of development. Ms. Corrao is scheduling “Drawn” to follow new “South Park” episodes starting Oct. 27.

For creators and executive producers Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, the show met initial resistance from some in the industry. “Our agent hated the idea,” Mr. Jeser said. “He said, `You totally miss the point because reality is cheap, but this would be expensive.”‘

Even after making a deal with Comedy Central off a 31/2-minute Flash-animated tape, there were legal concerns about the “Drawn” cast emulating other cartoon characters.

The fairy-tale princess, for instance, needs to evoke Disney heroines to be funny, but cannot too closely resemble any one character. “We had to be careful. … We changed some of the designs, down to their weight, hair color and eyelash count,” Mr. Jeser said.

Occasionally, though, trademarked characters do appear on the show. So the creators came up with the reality TV-inspired solution of obscuring the characters’ faces with a pixelated effect-as if the character had refused to sign a legal release.

Aside from the legal worries, the creators also had to be wary of post-Janet Jackson content issues. “Drawn,” with its depictions of cartoon canoodling, is one the most lurid basic cable shows to debut since “South Park.”

“Ultimately the great thing about animation is it takes so long to do that hopefully [by the time the shows air] content will be a little less of a sensitive issue,” Mr. Jeser said.