�Hire Ground on NBC!
I was at an "employment center" the other day and, as I was sitting in the main area, I concluded that the environment would make a damn good setting for a sitcom. The layout is perfect -- you've got tables and chairs; little cordoned-off, but still visible workstations; separate rooms off to one side; a coffee area; computer terminals) and there would be a renewable, yet always "edgy" cast of characters. Think of the wackiness that could ensue. The main characters could be the staff -- the employment counselors, the secretaries, the computer technician, etc. -- and two or three people who are perpetually looking for work.
Sometimes those characters will find work, but wackiness ensues, they get fired, and then return to the employment center where they can all be wacky together. There will be crazy Jimmy with his get-rich-quick schemes. High strung Molly whose eagerness to please always backfires (with sexy results). And laid back Garth whom everyone thinks is a slacker, coming in only for the free coffee, but it turns out that he has had a night job at a factory for years. He hangs out at the employment center because they're like family to him (his real family having burned to death in a barn fire of some sort).
You can have incidental characters coming and going every episode -- kind of like Night Court. Some will be hilarious, others will teach us valuable lessons about life and love and social policies, and still others will crawl out of the window in Judge Stone's office for one reason or another -- that apparently never gets old. During Sweeps, some distraught client could pull a gun or there could be the obligatory baby delivery scene -- and while the mother is recovering in the hospital, she'll be offered a job as a nurse! Pure gold!
If the show sets up the fact that the employment center is only available to younger people -- say, between the ages of 18 and 29 -- the entire cast could be comprised of hot, young talent that can be fired at 30 without anyone being accused of age discrimination! It would be about the integrity of the show, not the ugliness of the elderly! But, if there was a great uproar about it, the producers could just shove in a 55-year old janitor. He would make quips along the lines of, "It's a living," and then shuffle out of the shot.
If contract negotiation time was coming up and an actor needed to be gotten rid of in a way that makes sense for the show, his character simply finds a job. Not just any job, his dream job in far away Argentina! Maybe he gets killed on the way, it doesn't matter at that point. He's never coming back.
But, above all, the show would be about the endurance of the human spirit. The drive to succeed and contribute to society in a meaningful way. Humanity on the level of individuals. The promos on NBC will show everyone coming together for a group hug; there's a pause before someone -- possibly Deborah, the sassy secretary -- asks whose hand that is on her backside. That's when little Sook-Yin confesses that its hers; she thought she was touching Brad -- the employment counselor who is incredibly gay, but Sook-Yin can't pick up on it, God love her. And that's the kind of cutting edge style and energy that will come through in every laugh-packed episode.
But man, being in that place made me feel like such a sleazebag.