ABC's new Chicago-based sitcom botches the basics

April 21, 2011

Last night, I plopped down to watch sitcoms on TV. I caught one on ABC called Happy Endings. It's a sitcom about friends living in Chicago. It's obviously shot on a soundstage with a couple Chicago exteriors and they pepper the script with a few random Chicagoisms like "Bucktown." But for every obvious one, they throw in a curveball like "Lake Mich" instead of Lake Michigan. I've lived in the area all my life and never heard that shortening. Now, to be fair, I'm not fluent in new Chicago douchebag so shortenting Lake Michigan could be all the rage right now.

But the big inconsistency of the new sitcom had to do with one character's profession. The character worked and operated a food truck. If you have paid attention to Chicago news, you would know that cooking on food trucks is illegal on the streets of Chicago. That will change soon, but it's presently against the law. There are the more traditional food trucks, but you can't prepare food on the actual vehicle. It has to be pre-wrapped and prepared at a licensed kitchen. Therefore, the cutting board and fresh vegetables that "Dave" was preparing would land him in Cook County Jail. Maybe he's a rebel and that's a part of his quirky character, but I'm guessing it's just an LA production company skimping on research.

Add to that oversight a scene where two characters are getting a hot dog from a curb-side street vendor, complete with colorful umbrella? Yeah, unless that scene happened by the Shedd Aquarium or in the foyer of the Home Depot, that's strike number two. 

I hope this serves as a cautionary tale for the new Starz production, Boss, which follows a fictional Chicago mayor (played by Kelsey Grammar). It's a dramatic vehicle and it starts shooting in Chicago next week. If you would like me to hang around on set to make sure you don't call it "Lake Mich," I'm available.

B story: There is a protest scheduled today in Lincoln Park/Lakeview against plans to put a WalMart in the neighborhood. The protest starts at 10:00am at the corner of Diversey, Clark and Broadway. I will go out on a limb and say that clogging up that intersection is probably not a great way to get your point across. If I were stuck on Diversey because of Wal-Mart protesters, I might just have to get behind Wal-Mart. Now if Wal-Mart was smart, they would not only announce the new store, but they would announce funding for a construction project to widen Diversey to four lanes. Just to spite the protesters.

C story: Ah, the Easter brunch. Five of them. I never hit up Easter brunch. Now that Dolinsky has given me some ideas, I'll be joining you on Sunday.

Weather: My iPhone now tells me it's going to be 70 on Monday! Whoo hoo, get ready for our 2 week-long season of Spring!

Sports: Holy wow! Today is a huge day for Comcast Sports. Blackhawks are in Vancouver. Bulls are in Indiana. The Sox are in Tampa. The Cubs have the day off, but they are well represented by the national news story breaking that they may have thrown the 1918 World Series. It's a crazy story, read it. If it is found (and it won't be because there is really no published evidence) that the Cubs threw the WS before the White Sox did, will that possibly change the way we look at these two ballclubs in Chicago? Right now, there is a vibe that the Cubs are clean and the Sox are dirty. History proves that. So what if history can't anymore?

Kicker: We've been outed! Well, the Sun-Times ran a story this morning interviewing Kate James (my comedy troupe Schadenfreude) for her awesome portrayal of a drunk cubs fan, which started here and went international viral. The prevailing question has become, "Is this real?" I've been pretty mum on it only because it was an April Fool's Joke and you have to commit to your jokes, but the Sun-Times interviewed Kate this morning pulling the carpet back on the bit. This after Huffington Post did the same thing last week. Best part? The first comments on that story that outs the interview as a joke: "Is this real?"