The drama inherent in the challenges of being the President of the United States have lent themselves naturally to TV dramas like "24," "The West Wing," and (briefly) "Commander In Chief." Now NBC may try to build a series around the same subject — but it'll be in the form of a sitcom.
Josef Adalian of New York magazine's Vulture blog reports that NBC has made a pilot commitment on "1600 Penn," from Josh Gad and Jon Lovett. It's kind of a perfect partnership: Gad is a comic actor who's currently co-starring on Broadway in "The Book of Mormon" (so he can ask two of the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, about the pitfalls of Presidential comedy: They were also responsible for "That's My Bush"); and Lovett is a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, so if nothing else, he'll be able to help fact-check the show's set design. Unfortunately for NBC, "1600 Penn" will get beaten to air, early in 2012, by HBO's "Veep," in which Julia Louis-Dreyfus will play a U.S. Vice-President in a sitcom created by British genius showrunner Armando Iannucci ("The Thick of It"). But maybe there's room for two very similar shows, like "30 Rock" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." (Wait...hm.)
For this sitcom junkie, the prospect of not one but two sitcoms revolving around the President is exciting indeed. Because, eventually, virtually all TV comedies run out of original ideas and just try to put their spin on well-worn sitcom premises and tropes — except, in the case of these two shows, it'll be through the lens of the Presidency! Here are some ideas I'd like to offer up, free of charge, to the producers of both "Veep" and "1600 Penn."
- The President gets trapped in a White House elevator with a pregnant lady — and she goes into labor, forcing him to deliver the baby!
- The First Daughter brings the nuclear football to school for Show and Tell — and accidentally switches it with a classmate's identical-looking case, containing her Barbie collection!
- The President gets a big bump on the head and suffers temporary amnesia — right before the G-20 summit!
- The President accidentally forgets an important anniversary — but not his wedding anniversary: Pearl Harbor Day!
- The First Son participates in a Bachelor Auction — in which he gets "bought" by a special D.C. envoy from North Korea!
- The President loses face in a Cabinet meeting when his seat cushion makes a sound resembling flatulence — but he can't recreate the noise and clear his name/butt!
- Attending a bachelorette party for her Chief of Staff, the First Lady gets handcuffed to a stripper — and no one can find the key!