A CMT first: Wading into scripted sitcom pool
Long before “ Jersey Shore” proudly planted its spray-tanned flag on MTV’s moon, symbolically marking its terrain as a reality hit, viewers complained that the so-called “music channel” had moved too far from the tunes.
Now, another Viacom-owned, music-themed network is cautiously testing the waters of moving away from its signature genre— this time, with its first venture into scripted series.
On Friday night, CMT (CountryMusic Television) will premiere “Working Class,” a halfhour, multi-camera sitcom about a good-hearted family struggling to make ends meet— and fit in in a snobby upper-middle-class neighborhood— during tough economic times.
CMT has long had alternative programming, and executives are confident that taking yet another step away from the “music” in the network’s title won’t alienate the core audience that has come to expect reality programs such as “My Big RedneckWedding.”
“We’re just hopefully adding a layer of programming that people will find entertaining,” said Brad Johnson, senior vice president of comedy development.
The very family-friendly “Working Class” is from creator and executive producer Jill Cargerman. The show stars comedianMelissa Peterman (of WB’s “Reba” fame) as Carli, a goofy-but-determined twicedivorced mom of three who talks a mile a minute and is a constant stream of one-liners and stress. The series opens with her frantically paying bills and watering down a carton of milk. Having moved to an upscale Midwestern suburb to give her kids “ the good life,” Carli works behind a deli counter and enviously watches other women sip coffee after yoga and buy $30 worth of gourmet treats for their purse dogs.
“Can you believe she feeds her dog better than I feedmy kids?” she groans to co-workerHank (Ed Asner, who embraces his cranky-old-man role). Hanks replies that in their snooty town, “you can’t throw a rock without hitting a hybrid Lexus. Though that never stops me.”
But as much as Carli complains about her life— and writes “please?” in the memo line of a postdated check when she tries to pay her son’s dental bill without health insurance— Peterman plays the role as if she knows that deep down, even though she can’t live the postyoga latte life, the hand she was dealt isn’t too shabby.
Working Class (30 minutes) debuts Friday with back-toback episodes at 8 p.m. on CMT.
SEE A VIDEO CLIP To watch a sneak peek of CMT’s “Working Class,” visit washingtonpost.com/tv.
“WORKING CLASS”: Ed Asner andMelissa Peterman star.