Another Period

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There has been a push in period comedies in the last few years, with the History Channel even creating its own late night comedy on Thursday nights called “Night Class”. — It’s really good too. — To that end, if you’re looking for a way to fit into this quickly growing subgenre, Another Period is a great choice for a spec.

Another Period is an American period sitcom created by and starring Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome. It follows the lives of the Bellacourts, the first family of Newport, Rhode Island, at the turn of the 20th century. Lillian (Leggero) and Beatrice (Lindhome) are sisters “who care only about how they look, what parties they attend and becoming famous, which is a lot harder in 1902”. It is intended to be a spoof on reality shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, while in terms of era, roughly contemporaneous with Downton Abbey and satirizing many of the same themes of class and social standing.

Cast

Beatrice and Lillian, the Bellacorte sisters who have recently been kicked out of the home.
The Commodore, the girls’ father
Dodo, the girls’ mother and the Commodore’s wife
Peepers, head of the servants
Flobelle, a newly hired servant
Hortense, Beatrice and Lillian’s spinster sister
Garfield, another servant
Blanche, another servant
Chair, a servant in a coma and pregnant with the Commodore’s illegitimate child.

Storylines

A-Story: Beatrice and Lillian befriend Harriet Tubman in order to maintain their fame.

B-Story: The Commodore is out of money and needs a way to maintain his fortune.

C-Story: The servants deal with filling the void left by Chair.

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The Breakdown

Act One

A: Lillian and Beatrice are living with their friend/fan Penelope, making her crazy as she has a new baby and several unwieldy children. In order to appease the socialites, Penelope takes them out and pretends to be shocked and ask them for autographs.

A: Harriet Tubman is nearby getting an award. The girls are jealous of Tubman’s fame and rush to her, clamoring for her to help them. (Inciting Incident)

C: Peepers continues to interview Chair replacements, but rejects them all.

C: Flobelle enters for an interview. Peepers attempts to stump her but she passes and is quickly hired.

A: Tubman agrees to help the girls with their fame after seeing all of their “walking around gold”. (First Act Decision)

B: The Commodore meets with his accountant to go over finances. He becomes irate at the mention of his beloved Chair’s name.

C: Blanche, jealous of Chair’s attention, fights with her Gollum-like split personality and decides to kill Chair. She smothers her.

C: Chair’s water breaks. Blanche stops smothering her and runs for help.

Commercial / Act Two

B: Commodore and the accountant discuss selling Hortense. Hortense is furious and launches into a rant but the Commodore has a better idea that doesn’t involve Hortense.

A: Tubman talks the girls through branding. Lillian and Beatrice are thrilled.

C: Garfield brags to Flobelle about how important he is in the house, but then panics when he learns Chair is in labor.

B: The Commodore tells Lillian and Beatrice’s husbands they need an annulment. The husbands are ecstatic.

A: Lillian and Beatrice continue to train with Tubman but they prove themselves unteachable.

C: The servants work to deliver Chair’s baby. Flobelle screams at the doctor to actually help. He finally agrees when she becomes more demanding but refers to him as “doctor”.

Commercial

B: The accountant tells the Commodore of all the money Dodo has given away to charity. The Commodore fumes and Peepers, who was eavesdropping, worries for Dodo.

B: Peepers runs to Dodo to save her but she rejects his help.

B: The Commodore goes after Dodo but when he gets to her room, she has disappeared.

A: Tubman wants the girls to go over Niagra Falls in a shared barrel in order to jumpstart their fame. They’re both excited and unsure. (Midpoint)

A: Peepers searches for the girls, visiting their old roommate Penelope. He threatens her when she doesn’t answer his questions quickly enough.

A: The girls go over Niagra Falls just as Peepers arrives to see it happen. (False Climax/Low Point)

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Commercial

C: The Commodore is peaceable as he holds his new son in his arms and names him Kermit.

A: Peepers pulls the girls out of the water, just as Tubman announces a new venture, stealing all the attention away. (Climax)

B: The Commodore allows the girls to move back in under the condition that they get the annulment. Lillian and Beatrice easily comply.

Tag

Short film telling the story of “The Three Hortenses”.

Conclusion

This show is so ridiculously fun and meta. The characters are strong with clear individual ambitions which is definitely something to look for when you’re choosing a show to spec. You don’t have to do any research in order to write a spec of this show, but I would recommend it. The concept for the series was inspired by the original tours that were given in the old Rhode Island mansions. The tours still exist, though the amount of information given about servant treatment has been toned down over the years. Research of the time period would help with a show like this as they’re clearly lampooning behavior of the period at the same time as going after today’s pop culture stories.

Make sure when you’re writing your spec that Lillian and/or Beatrice are always your main story, then your B-story can revolve around another sibling  or the servants. In this particular episode, the servants didn’t have so much an entire storyline as much as they poked their heads into a handful of scenes for quick jokes.

I can’t wait to see what historical comedy winds up being the next big hit. What time period would guys like to see lampooned?

Happy Writing!

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