I’m excited about a new family history-themed show that will be broadcast on HBO in May. The show is the brainchild of Christopher Guest, the creator of such clever and hilarious films as Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.
Family Tree, as the new eight-part series is called, follows Guest’s trademark improv-documentary style and tells the story of a guy who gets jilted by his girlfriend at the same time he loses his job. With nothing better to do, he starts sorting through his family photos and memorabilia and encounters all kinds of nuts and oddballs that populate his family tree. Sound fun?
Chris O’Dowd plays the lead. He came to Guest’s attention from his role as the charming Irish cop in 2011’s hit show Bridesmaids. Apparently, O’Dowd is good at improv, too, for he and his supporting cast work from an eight-page outline for each show, but improvise most of the story. Guest says he’s written a huge backstory for each character and created a family tree for O’Dowd that extends back to the 1700s. If you’re a Christopher Guest fan, you’ll recognize some of the family members who show up as O’Dowd’s relatives, hilarious character actors like Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, and Ed Begley Jr.
Guest got the idea for his show after his father died. He inherited all his dad’s boxes and started going through them. He says he was originally going to use actors to serve as the voices of his family members telling their own stories. Then he came up with the concept that became Family Tree. I’m glad he did, and I can’t wait until May!