A Dare-to-Be-Bad Situation: NBC Is Making a ‘Say Anything’ TV Series

By  · Published on October 7th, 2014


UPDATED: Victory is ours.

Put down your boomboxes. Fold up your kickboxing trousers. Wait for the airplane to ding. This is not a drill, and frankly, it’s nearly impossible to believe that this is happening, but here it is: NBC is making a series based on Say Anything, Cameron Crowe’s 1989 John Cusack- and Ione Skye-starring teen romance. It’s okay if this news is hard to swallow, because even with the recent rash of small screen revivals of beloved properties – think Real Genius, Problem Child and Big — word that Say Anything is getting a new television series seems almost too bizarre to be believed, too weird to be true.

Let’s parse this.

Deadline reports that the film “is being revisited as a series for Generation Ys.” The new series has been imagined as a single-camera comedy (a comedy, a comedy), which features Justin Adler (Better Off Ted, Samantha Who?, Less Than Perfect) on writing duty. The series will pick up ten years after the movie ends, with one hell of a bummer of a logline: “the Say Anything series picks up ten years later. Lloyd has long since been dumped by Diane and life hasn’t exactly turned out like he thought. But when Diane surprisingly returns home, Lloyd is inspired to ‘dare to be great’ once again, get Diane back and reboot his life.”

The news is indeed bittersweet, if only because the very concept of the show validates a big question we pondered back in April, while celebrating the film’s twenty-fifth anniversary: “Are Say Anything Lovebirds Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court Still Together?” The answer is no. I’ve never wanted to be wrong more badly in my entire life.

Even removed from the deep, personal pain that such a revisit is inflicting on me – the pain, my goodness, the pain – this seems like a strange choice for the network. Again, Deadline specifically reports that this is a Generation Y-skewing series that is pulling from a classic Generation X film, so why does the show need the name recognition of the film to sell what sounds like a pretty sanitized version of its storyline? Does Generation Y respond so deeply to the original film that they’ll blindly sign on to a show with its same name? And one with an unoriginal and upsetting storyline to boot? That’s the sort of thing we’re going to have to wait and see, but it seems that a single-camera sitcom that centers on a lovable loser trying to prove himself to the one that got away is a sweet enough idea for a wholly original series.

In short, will the interest in seeing a new take on Say Anything (complete with a plotline that isn’t dependent on the source material) outweigh the kind of ill will that might spring from fans of the original property (the sort who don’t want to see the film changed, especially by a reboot)?

There’s also the question of who will fill the necessary Lloyd and Diane roles – a pair of characters who, admittedly, might offer the appropriate talent a fun role. It’s still way too early to determine such casting (we doubt that even the studio has gotten that far), but Crowe’s film helped turn both Cusack and Skye into big names, so it would be charming if the show did the same thing by casting relatively new talents.

On one hand, yes, most of this speculation is (like possible casting!) too early to get into, but the very idea of a Say Anything television show seems so strange and so unnecessary that it’s hard to analyze it without emotion (like total bafflement) entering the equation. Why does this have to be a Say Anything television show? Why does there have to be a Say Anything television show?

And, there’s also this: Crowe, Skye and Cusack aren’t involved in the project – but they want to stop it (whoa):

Regarding the announcement of a “Say Anything” tv show… @JohnCusack, @IoneSkye1 and I have no involvement… except in trying to stop it.

— Cameron Crowe (@CameronCrowe) October 7, 2014