ESPN just doesn’t know when to say no, do they? Yes, ESPN Films (formerly ESPN Original Entertainment) has hit it out of the park with their 30 For 30 documentary series. However, ESPN’s checkered past in the world of scripted dramas and made-for-tv movies is more like a graveyard littered with corpses of the dead. Of course everyone remembers the high-profile downfall of Playmakers and the train wreck that was Tilt. But, do you also recall such gems as A Season on the Brink, Hustle, and The Bronx is Burning? Apparently, ESPN doesn’t remember these colossal duds either. Instead of being content with the success of their critically acclaimed documentaries, ESPN is now looking to pitch scripted sitcoms, starting with the tale of four sports fans from where else… Boston.
Now, I take a couple of issues with this news besides the obvious fact that the show will most likely suck worse than Outsourced. After all, one of the creators was responsible for Scrubs. First, there’s the continuing global problem of the East Coast media bias. Many fans who live west of Philadelphia have long complained of a perceived bias for the I-95 corridor from every national sports media outlet. And who could blame the rest of us who live in “Flyover Country” or the West Coast? The Yanks and the Sawx, and now the Phillies dominate baseball coverage from all major networks. The NFC and AFC East is consistently featured in primetime and nationally televised NFL games. The Pac-12 is almost constantly ignored in college football discussion. Why can’t a series about sports fans be focused in another, less glamorous sports town like Cleveland, or St. Louis, or Denver? Because, of course, all must bow down to the best sports city in the world, Boston.
And that’s the second problem I have with this proposed sitcom. Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard, those sports fans in Boston are wicked cool, right? And I know Boston and New York are the nearest major sports town to the WWL’s headquarters in Bristol, CT. But, hasn’t the glorification of Boston as sports nirvana gone a little too far? The tipping point had to be this ESPN The Magazine issue soley dedicated to the city of Boston, their teams, and their fans. How insulting is that to subscribers of the magazine who, I don’t know, happen to live outside Beantown? Personally, if I subscribed to ESPN The Magazine, I’d use the Boston issue as toilet paper.
But what about the supposed Steve Bartman/Cubs documentary that featured a healthy dose of Bill Buckner and Boston misery and bliss? What about the manufactured John Lackey controversy driven by the arrogant Boston media? What about the most recent Red Sox collapse completely overshadowing an equally embarassing collapse by the Atlanta Braves? Does any other town have a quarterback whose haircut is worthy of an actual news article like Tom Brady? The entire sports culture around Boston is already insufferable enough in real life, now it has to be idealized and shoved down our throats in made-for-tv sitcom form? Gag me with a spoon! I can’t wait for the constant promotion next fall during ESPN’s 37th Sawx/Yanks showdown or the 300th courtside Celtics interview with Donnie Wahlberg if, God forbid, the series actually gets picked up by ABC. Please national media, when our world is smaller than ever, why can’t you pay attention to anything that happens west of Harrisburg, PA? And please ESPN, reconsider this Boston-obsessed road you’re travelling down. I mean come on, what’s next after a sitcom about Boston sports fans… a show based on the life of Colin Cowherd? Nobody would be that silly… right?