A lot happened in the world of TV spinoffs this week. First, Golden Girls fans rejoiced when they discovered The Golden Palace is now available to stream in its entirety on Hulu. Then one of the writers of And Just Like That… almost had a nervous breakdown after receiving death threats from Sex and the City fans upset about the direction the franchise has taken.
Related: More bad news for ‘And Just Like That’ actor Chris Noth
Since the earliest days of TV, network suits have tried to find ways to expand existing properties into new and financially lucrative series. Sometimes it works, as in the case of The Simpsons (spin-off of The Tracey Ulman Show), Frasier (spin-off of Cheers, or The Jeffersons (spin-off of All in the Family). Other times, not so much.
Let’s take a little jaunt through forgotten queerish showbiz history. Try to stream any of these titles at your own risk…
After Audra Linley became one of the 1970s biggest camp icons on the “he’s gay but not really” sitcom Three’s Company, ABC tried to spin Linley and her small screen husband Norman Fell off into a show of their own with less than golden results. The series focused on the Ropers as social climbers in a more affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles and even featured a pre-Transparent Jeffrey Tambor. Still, an ever-horny Helen Roper bickering with the oh-so-cheap Stanley didn’t enchant audiences, thus condemning Mrs. Roper and her caftans to cancelation.
Dynasty became one of the defining shows of the 1980s thanks to its mix of style, sex, and outright bitchiness. Naturally, ABC wanted to duplicate that success. As drag queens continued to imitate Dynasty stars Joan Collins and Diahann Caroll, the network began work on The Colbys in 1985, casting noted homophobe Charlton Heston and lesbian icon Barbara Stanwyck in the leads. Initial ratings showed promise, and though the show nabbed a second season, audiences fled in droves. An expensive price tag and tabloid stories of backstage fights between Heston and co-star Maxwell Caulfield didn’t help, and ABC nixed the series in 1987. By that point, the show had become so unpopular that the series ended with one of the main characters abducted by a UFO as a symbolic middle finger to the audience.
The Glee Project
Glee became an instant sensation when it debuted back in 2009, and Fox partnered with the Oxygen network for this… unusual spinoff. 2011’s The Glee Project played more like American Idol than its parent show, as wannabe crooners competed to win a guest spot on the scripted series. Stars of the show would also show up to help “coach” their potential co-stars. The whole thing ran two seasons, and played a bit more like a commercial for Glee than a series with its own identity. Apart from spotting a few early talents–including Alex Newell–the show never did find a reason to exist beyond a cynical cash grab.
Any Given Brady Spinoff
Don’t get us wrong. We love Florence Henderson and Robert Reed. And we have no shame in confessing our crushes on the Brady boys while growing up and watching the show in syndication either. Still, why someone thought it would be a good idea to give the sitcom’s cast a 1970s variety show–or worse, reunite them for a 1990s primetime drama–is beyond our comprehension. Reed, a closeted gay man who made no secret of his resentment for the association with his Brady Bunch character, gamely signed up for both The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and The Bradys. Audiences, on the other hand, felt differently.
Beverly Hills, 90210 provided trashy, soapy fun for a generation of hormonal teens in the 1990s. Melrose Place, the show’s spinoff, dialed the volume way, way up, spinning tales of West Hollywood gone berserk. Models, INC. tried to go even further, but no amount of soap opera plot twists and bitchiness could get audiences invested in this dud. Neither could Linda Gray or a pre-Matrix Carrie-Ann Moss. Though, as far as 90210 spinoffs go, we admit: the 2008 90210 and 2009 Melrose Place revivals/spinoffs are far worse.
Models, INC. had one of the greatest unfortunate / unintended taglines in memory:
‘The most beautiful women in the world AND Linda Gray.’
Professional malpractice by her agent.
OMG, best thing I’ve read this month. Brilliant!
So where is the guy in the gym? What show is that?
He was on THE GLEE PROJECT.
He was one of the new cast once some of the original cast had graduated in Glee. They used every opportunity to make the new guys shirtless, but the show was unwatchable by then.
@Josiah Freshmount the guys name is Blake Jenner. He was briefly married to Melissa Benoist (Glee, Supergirl), but he beat the crap out of her on several occasions and threw something at her face, almost causing her blindness in one eye. Not a good guy…
I thought it was Streete McChord, or whatever that guy’s name was.
Chord Overstreet played Sam…. Blake Jenner played Ryder… Jenner was the one married to Melissa Benoit (Marley)
Chord Overstreet played Sam…. Blake Jenner played Ryder… Jenner was the one married to Melissa Benoist (Marley)
Ha. I loved the Ropers but married with children did it better.
Robert Reed was a talented actor but such a sad closet case. I met him one time after a play he did. Probably a year or two before he passed. I don’t remember the Brady’s even though I think I watched every one of their reunion shows.
God, I loved Models, Inc. It was so bad it was good. If memory serves, the final episode ended on a cliffhanger.
Instead of spin-offs, I prefer the modern system of using much of the same cast in a different situation… American Horror Story and Miracle Workers.
Now, I expect CAM to pipe up, and call me a right-winger who goes by 19 other names. Can’t squeeze that crazy back into the tube, can we?
And don’t forget that your troll game is sad and weak!
I love that as a right wing troll you are so enraged and obsessed with the account that exposes you, that you can’t even post about pop culture without posting about me. Your obsession is delicious.
@charette8596, and like always the right wing troll can’t just post something without switching screenames to come in and back up it’s post. Thank you for exposing a new screename so easily. We were getting tired of “Hank31” and “openminded”.
The Colbys was good for one major reason: Stephanie Beecham. She was brilliant as bitchy Sable. She added some interesting layers to her character; while she made deplorable choices at times, you understood and even sympathized with her most of the time. The only thing that made zero sense was why she wanted to stay married to her lout of a husband. Chuck Heston was an ass on screen and off.
Seeing super rich Fallon Colby first repulsed then attracted to the vaguely male figure in the UFO and then willingly walking up that ramp is sheer perfection. Now if only that could happen to Bezos, Zuckerberg, Musk and the rest of the psychotic billionaires, we might have a chance.
Fallon and the UFO was an amazing series finale!
The only one I watched was the Roper’s. I didn’t even know about most of the others.
Alyson Mackenzie Stroker is an American actress and singer. She is the first actress who uses a wheelchair to appear on the Broadway stage, and to be nominated for and win a Tony Award. Stroker was a finalist on the second season of The Glee Project and later appeared as a guest star on Glee in 2013.
Model’s Inc was EVERYTHING and you talk about ANGRY when they canceled it! I WAS LIVID! I think it was before its time. They weren’t ready!
Oh! I thought it was the GROPERS! :>)
“The Brady’s” had a chance to be similar in concept to Eight is Enough and Family. But instead they used the sitcom structure of solving any problem within that episode. They could have done shows where each week would focus on one “kid” and their family and friends. And have the natural interaction of family coming and going. But they should have played it seriously, with a dash of humor.
What? No love for “The Brady Brides”? Yup, it was a real thing. And there is at least one option left for this thing that won’t die. Anyone up for “The Walking Bradys”?
LOL! But no “Walking Bradys” for me, thanks. I’ve already seen “A Very Brady Christmas.”
I loved The Ropers on Three’s Company, but they couldn’t make the spinoff work. They couldn’t make it work, without a plot. They just moved them to another apartment complex and left then isolated from what made them funny. Three’s a Crowd was a bomb also.
TV execs, actors, and especially their agents often push these spinoff ideas hoping for more money from another big hit but it rarely works. The Ropers were OK as side characters (I wasn’t a fan of Three’s Company) but didn’t have the range or interest to sustain a show.
One major reason behind the friction between Vivian Vance and William Frawley was that they were offered a spin-off from I Love Lucy as the Mertzes. They were evidently offered a lot of money and Frawley wanted to do it but Vance said no. Frawley thought she was nuts but IMO she was right, they had a long run with ILL, and Vance worked with Lucy several times thereafter, I doubt a show focusing on Fred and Ethel would have lasted a season even back then when shows had more time to develop.
The TV landscape is littered with failed shows built around supporting characters spun off from popular shows. The Jeffersons was a notable exception.
Only watched glee project…to be fair, it was not really a spin-off, as they mention, it was on a different network “Oxygen” not even sure how you get that channel…I just download my shows from other sources…anyway, I think there was 8 contestants from GP that appeared in at least 1 ep of Glee from both seasons. Alex Newell appeared the most even though they did not win or make the finale of S01. But the show would not have existed without glee, so I guess that technically makes it a spin-off.