Just because the actors in ABC’s midseason comedy — about a very large, somewhat dysfunctional family — improvise their lines doesn’t mean there is no writing in the show. Quite the opposite, says co-creator Goss, who also stars as the show’s Cameron Walker.
More writing is required to give actors the depth to create that character’s voice. “What we do is write out a really strong storyline so the actors know the points they have to hit to drive the story forward,” he says.
“As writers, Fred and I love thinking about the backstory of the characters,” Holly adds. Inevitably, the actors take those storylines and create spontaneous humor by just talking. Because the cameras aren’t sure where the next line is coming from, the show has the look of a documentary and the feel of an Altman film.
“There are no traditional, constructed jokes,” says Goss. “We decide the size of the elephant in the room and people play it straight. A good actor is inherently a good improviser.”
ABC aired the midseason show placing two episodes back to back for five weeks where it battled “American Idol” and “House.” Needless to say, few viewers saw the show, but Goss and Holly have high hopes the net will give the skein another try in the fall.