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TLC Heads Into Scripted with ‘Surviving the In-Laws’ (Exclusive)

TLC is the latest in a slew of nonfiction nets to move beyond unscripted fare

It seemed like only a matter of time before TLC moved into the scripted space, as several other nonfiction cablers have done within the last year.

Surviving the In-Laws,” a two-part series from MAK Pictures, will expand the network’s slate into the scripted realm, as each halfhour episode recreates real-life marriage horror stories with a comedic edge, and with actors.

TLC will bow the two halfhour segs back-to-back on July 31, and the episodes will serve as a backdoor pilot for the project, like many of TLC’s other one-offs.

“We all have laugh-out-loud stories from our well-meaning, but over-involved in-laws, but for the sake of our relationships, we never really have the chance to tell them to back off. ‘Surviving the In-Laws’ is the perfect way to bring these relatable, and ridiculous, experiences to life, without getting the couple in trouble with their parents,” said Amy Winter, general manager at TLC.

She added: “Pushing into the scripted space but still based on real stories, ‘Surviving the In-Laws’ keeps the heart and humor TLC’s audience expects from our programming.”

Project transitions TLC into the fictional genre in a way similar to the scripted transitions recently made by networks including National Geographic, History and TLC’s sibling cabler Discovery Channel.

Nat Geo’s first scripted offering was “Killing Lincoln,” which the cabler billed as a “factual drama” about Abraham Lincoln that stayed true to the subject matter auds expect from Nat Geo’s unscripted slate. Similarly, History served up miniseries “The Bible” and drama “Vikings” earlier this year, while Discovery Channel is prepping launch of its scripted mini “Klondike,” which centers on the 1890s gold rush.

“Surviving the In-Laws” maintains a documentary-style feel throughout, and draws tonally — and visually — from TLC’s crop of docuseries and one-offs that center on outrageous families. Even the show’s music is reminiscent of the background music looped into a great deal of TLC’s reality fare.

Given the loud personalities that TLC is known for and the look of “Surviving the In-Laws,” it seems inevitable that some viewers may take the program to be yet another quirky reality series from the net, despite the disclaimer at the beginning of the program that reads “The situations you are about to see are based on real stories.”

The network stated: “The stories in ‘Surviving the In-Laws’ were compiled from interviews with real people, sharing authentic anecdotes about their relationship with their in-laws. Throughout the episodes, these stories are brought to life, taking creative license to protect the identities of the storytellers.”

Social media reaction to “Surviving the In-Laws” will be the telltale sign as to whether the project was clearly delineated as a scripted program or not.

Should the two-part series perform well in ratings, TLC will likely follow up with an additional episode order of “Surviving the In-Laws,” or experiment with other scripted one-offs on its lineup.

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