THE SHOW THAT MADE ME WANT TO WRITE FOR TV
The first show I worked on made me want to work in TV—I was a fan before I was a writer. Watching it, I realized how truly cinematic television could be.
Late Night With David Letterman
He was my hero as a kid, and I loved SNL and Cheers. The Trojan horse that got me in was that Sam Malone played for the Red Sox. But I ended up loving every character.
I learned basic storytelling from all those crazy, violent Hanna Barbera cartoons. And I remember watching The Simpsons and thinking, Wow, it would be fun to sit in a room and write those voices.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I was writing films and I adopted a baby and was stuck at home. I watched every episode of Buffy and 24 all at once. I realized TV was where character development was.
The West Wing
The West Wing brought auteurism to TV. And The Sopranos’ first season was a turning point: Feature films were just starting to slide, and TV was becoming the place where adventurous stuff was done.
Hill Street Blues
There were ambitious shows before it, but Hill Street bucked the tradition of stand-alone episodes and wove its characters’ lives through satisfying weekly stories.
Late Night With Conan O’Brien
Craig and I were college seniors in ’96 when we started watching Late Night With Conan O’Brien. We had no idea what to do with our lives. The Masturbating Bear changed everything.
I wanted to do comedy but didn’t want to just write jokes. M.A.S.H. showed how to mix goofy with life-or-death stakes.
It had an intriguing darkness in its DNA: a washed-up relief pitcher and ex-alcoholic (who owns a bar!) surrounded by people who drink all day. And yet we understood and cared about them all.