MTV continues to rapidly expand its scripted series portfolio by greenlighting two new half-hour series, the coming-of-age comedy That Girl and horror comedy Death Valley. Each has received a 12-episode order. After reentering the scripted arena last year with the series order to The Hard Times of RJ Berger, which was recently renewed for a second season, MTV has stepped up its scripted efforts, especially after the appointment of David Janollari as EVP of scripted development in January. In the past 4 months, MTV has picked up a whopping 5 new scripted series, dramas Skins and Teen Wolf, comedies That Girl and Death Valley and animated comedy Good Vibes. That is 2.5 times as many new scripted series as the CW ordered in May and one shy of the 6 Fox ordered for this coming season. “Our goal creatively is diversity – to offer choices with drama, comedy, animation and, of course, reality,” Janollari said. And the network is not done. Janollari said his team is in development on a lot of new scripted projects and is planning to order more pilots in the next couple of months.
As for the newly picked-up series, That Girl was created by Lauren Iungerich whom Janollari called “one of the most authentic young female writers,” and Death Valley is “a very inventive stylistically comedy” from Scrubs alum Eric Weinberg, Janollari added. Here are the shows’ detailed descriptions:
That Girl is an irreverent look at the conflict, chaos and comedy that is contemporary teenage life through the eyes of 15 year-old Jenna Hamilton, who launches from social misfit to “that girl” when an accident leads everyone to believe she tried to commit suicide. Now she must deal with the stigma of being “that girl” – the girl who tried to kill herself – while also dealing with her crush on the most popular guy in school, a mean girl who wants to squash her, a weirdo guidance counselor, parents who just don’t get it, and lots and lots of guy drama. Being “that girl” will eventually be the catalyst for amazing change, but not without some missteps along the way. In the wake of Jenna’s prominence, she will redefine what being “that girl” means to her… cause even losers can have a fairy tale! That Girl will showcase specific incidents in our formative years that define us – sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. It explores teen themes such a jealousy, body image, parental guidance, boundaries, friendship and sex. That Girl was created and executive produced by Lauren Iungerich (ABC Family’s 10 Things I Hate About You.) The pilot was directed by Millicent Shelton (30 Rock).
Death Valley is a scripted horror-comedy that captures the exploits of the men and women of the Undead Task Force (UTF) – an elite branch of the LAPD that was formed in 2009 when the San Fernando Valley became overrun by zombies, vampires and werewolves. While scientists frantically search for an answer to what caused the outbreak, the UTF is responsible for eradicating the monsters, or at least containing them to the Valley. Documenting each case and paranormal encounter is a daring camera crew that is embedded with the UTF from the beginning to end of every shift. As a result, the documentary crew becomes central to the storytelling and is as much a part of the action as the young cops and the undead they encounter. Always alternating between humor and horror, Death Valley at times borrows from the conventions of reality television creating a visual style that is a blend of follow documentary and sci-fi action. The series stars an ensemble cast including Caity Lotz (who plays “Stephanie” on MAD MEN) Tania Raymonde (who played “Alex Rousseau” on LOST) and Charlie Sanders (Funny or Die’s The Big Dog). “Death Valley” is executive produced by Austin Reading and Julie Kellman Reading for Liquid Theory. Eric Weinberg and Tim Healy will also serve as executive producers, along with MTV’s Tony DiBari.