Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman returns to the sitcom format with her new Netflix series Grace and Frankie, about two women (Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) forced to start over in their 70s when their husbands admit that they have fallen in love with each other.
Kauffman sings the praises of working with Netflix to Deadline, saying, “When one has the opportunity to work and go do 13 episodes and not spend two years in development hell — the idea of going straight to 13 allowed us to conceive this as a series, not just as a pilot. This is place to be, because we don’t have to worry about development hell — and we’ll have 30 minutes [per episode].”
But she also admits that the platform comes with its share of challenges. “Aside from [not knowing the] metrics, one of the hardest things about doing a show at a place like Netflix is the same thing that’s great about it: going straight to 13,” she says. “As a producer I sit here and think, ‘I can’t make any mistakes in the first one.’ There is no chance to look it over and make other choices. You have to learn on the fly. It’s extremely difficult.”
“In terms of the metrics, we’re told by Netflix they honestly don’t care about what the first day [audience size] is,” she continues. “They’re looking at longevity: Are people going to be coming to it later. I don’t know what their metrics are. And I never judged Friends by what its ratings were. That was the only way to measure your success. But there are other ways to measure success as a producer, and it’s a more exciting way, which is, “Am I proud of it? Will my peers think this is a good half hour of television?” And it actually feels like a more honest way to measure success.”
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