“Twitter got me a sitcom deal.”
Dads say weird stuff. It’s a universal truth. Most of us just get embarrassed in front of our friends, but writer Justin Halpern capitalized on the bizarre crap coming out of his dad’s mouth by creating a Twitter account called @ShitMyDadSays. To his surprise, the account quickly became a viral phenomenon and gained the interest of executives at CBS when it achieved massive popularity.
Read on to see how it all crumbled to bits!
"See, you think I give a shit. Wrong. In fact, while you talk, I'm thinking; How can I give less of shit? That's why I look interested."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) August 7, 2010
The Main Event
On November 9, 2009, CBS announced it was developing a television sitcom based on the Twitter feed @ShitMyDadSays. After its premiere on September 23, 2010, the series, starring William Shatner, was immediately maligned by critics. Check out these hilarious headlines:
The Pile of $h*! That Was ‘$h*! My Dad Says’ – SplitSider
And take a peek at this brutal review, from Slant Magazine’s Kris King:
$#*! My Dad Says is a dismal show, harboring the worst qualities of every lame, four-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom on television. The jokes are painful, the acting is hammy, the characters are flat, and it simply isn’t funny. Ever.
God, I love journalism!
"Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) June 28, 2010
Remember, before it was one of the worst television shows of the modern era, @ShitMyDadSays was actually a wildly successful Twitter account, loved by millions. Let’s trace its rise from obscurity.
A Brief History Of Shit My Dad Says
In August of 2009, semi-employed comedy writer Justin Halpern moved back in with his parents and started Shit My Dad Says simply as a way to document his septuagenarian father’s profanity-laced, oddly wise musings.
"No, I'm not a pessimist. At some point the world shits on everybody. Pretending it ain't shit makes you an idiot, not an optimist."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) January 19, 2010
It wasn’t long before word got out, thanks in part to comedian Rob Corddry tweeting out the link to a wide audience. Within a month, tweets from Shit My Dad Says were mentioned on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Halpern’s follower count grew into the millions.
"That woman was sexy…Out of your league? Son. Let women figure out why they won't screw you, don't do it for them."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) October 12, 2009
Idea-starved executives took notice. First came the book deal. In October of 2009, Halpern signed a deal with HarperCollins Publishers. Upon release, the book topped the bestseller list for six weeks. Then came the jump to TV. CBS approached Halpern for a television deal just a couple of months after the Twitter account was launched.
"You don't have to be good to succeed. You just gotta be the least shitty option. Example: We're eating at The Olive Garden."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) October 7, 2010
The move by CBS represented a newfound willingness for traditional media outlets, like television, to incorporate intellectual property from new media, such as Twitter. Speaking of… has anyone at CBS seen my tweets? They’re worth at least $2 million each, don’t you think? Uh, I’m willing to negotiate.
Where Are They Now?
As I might have mentioned above, the television series wasn’t exactly a homerun. After 18 episodes aired, $#*! My Dad Says (yes, the name was censored) was unceremoniously replaced midseason. It was not renewed.
“It’s Los Angeles, son. It’s the epicenter of the asshole earthquake. They’d fuck you twice if they had another dick.”
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) April 20, 2010
Perhaps part of the problem was that CBS insisted on making it a multi-camera sitcom with a laugh-track, which didn’t exactly scream “new and innovative storytelling!” Or perhaps it failed because tweets are typically short, pithy, self-contained thoughts–often without an overarching narrative. Whatever the reason, it fucking tanked.
You can still visit @ShitMyDadSays for cranky, profanity-laced rants from Justin’s father, although it is rarely updated these days. At the time of writing, the most recent tweet was from May 9, 2017.
"Oh he knew how bad this would look. If a man shits his pants on purpose he's trying to cover up something that smells a lot fucking worse."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) May 10, 2017
And Justin Halpern was savvy enough to leverage the failure of $#*! My Dad Says as a platform to launch a successful screenwriting career, with credits on Surviving Jack, Cougar Town, and Powerless.
"A parent's only as good as their dumbest kid. If one wins a Nobel Prize but the other gets robbed by a hooker, you failed."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) February 22, 2010
So happy anniversary to the day a hilarious Twitter account got turned into an unfunny television show. Do I sound bitter? I swear, I’m not bitching.
"A mule kicked Uncle Bob once. Broke his ribs. He punched it in the face.. My point? You have an ingrown fucking toenail. Stop bitching."
— Justin (@shitmydadsays) November 13, 2009