I don’t know how to write for television. I mean, I have a general sense of how to format a script, if I’m being generous with myself, and I can imagine sitting around a table with a group of people saying something like “Does it make sense for the Commodore to be in that scene, or does it mess with the timestream?” (or whatever), but I don’t really know how to become the sort of person who writes for television, professionally, other than continuing to write for not-television and periodically vibrating very anxiously in the direction of my own TV. This is mostly fine, I think.
Here are, in no particular order, some of the shows I have been working on, without being asked.
MAN: We have come to buy nothing.
WOMAN: We are here to buy NOTHING.
REALTOR: I stand as witness! Here is NOTHING.
MAN: NOTHING. GIVE US NOTHING.
WOMAN: FILL OUR HANDS AND MOUTHS WITH NOTHING.
MAN: THERE IS A WARM CAT THAT DWELLS IN MY HEART AND BATS AWAY MY THOUGHTS. HE MAKES ME DIZZY. I WOULD HATE HIM IF I COULD.
WOMAN: I. I. I. I PROHIBIT CLOSETS. I ABJURE THE ENHANGMENT OF CLOTHES. I BANISH THE BARRIERS BETWEEN DOOR AND WALL, BETWEEN SCONCE AND HALL. I WILL SLEEP IN MY OWN HANDSHAKE.
REALTOR: I REFUSE TO PRODUCE. I COME GIFTLESS. I COME OFFERLESS.
MAN: PUT ME NOWHERE. LIST MY ADDRESS AS NULL.
House Hunters II
WOMAN [angrily]: We told you not to bring us inside of a house to visit. Our budget was nullification, wrack, and slaughter. I am enwalled. Get us out at once.
REALTOR [trapped outside on a window ledge]: I am sorry. I am sorry. I don’t know how this happened. The house has chosen us, I think. I had no part in this.
WOMAN: YOU MAY NOT WASH YOUR HANDS OF US.
MAN: I feel the neighbors can see me. I fear the neighbors can see me. I must, I must, I must – [he becomes impossibly long and thin, then crawls inside of the crown molding]
WOMAN: There were no stars the night I was born. I was born without a sign.
REALTOR [slipping, despite herself]: I had a mother once. I had a nightmare once. Forgive me.
WOMAN: We will buy nothing, spirits! Do you hear us? Send torment, defeat, ruin – we came here to purchase nothing and you will not sway us from our path. And I do not forgive you, house-lackey.
MAN [weakly, from inside the walls]: I am the house now. I do not forgive either. ENMITY.
REALTOR [brokenly, resignedly]: Enmity, then. [She falls.]
House Hunters International
WOMAN: We have traveled long and far, without sleep and without bread, to tell you this: we do not need two sinks. We are already drained.
MAN [dully, without opening his eyes]: Do not give us two sinks. I must not – I must not look at the sinks.
WOMAN [alarmed]: Do not look at the sinks!
MAN [pained, desperate]: I must not look at the sinks!
REALTOR [throwing herself across the bathroom counter]: There are no sinks here! There are no sinks! Brother, all is well! Brother, all is well! Brother, all is well, and –
MAN [shrieking, eyes lidless]: I MUST NOT LOOK AT THE SINKS
(Image credit: Sean Locke/Stocksy)
House Hunters International II
The WOMAN and the REALTOR stand trembling in the BATHROOM. The room is silent. So are they, for a long while.
REALTOR: Perhaps –
WOMAN: Do not say it.
REALTOR: I only –
REALTOR: I’m sorry.
The WOMAN slides down against the wall and leans against the toilet.
WOMAN: How long, do you think, before the School District arrives? Before we are Zoned?
REALTOR: It does not always come. We may not be Zoned.
WOMAN: Please – now – after all this – do not lie to me. I do not wish for the last thing you say to me to be a lie.
REALTOR: Everything I have said to you has been a lie. [She slides down against the wall as well, and leans forward until her head is resting upon the WOMAN’s knees.] If we are not Zoned, we will be Partitioned, or left to lose our minds in the gibbering emptiness of the Open Floor Plan, or –
WOMAN: I hope it is not the Walk-In Closet. Perhaps that’s weak of me to say. I should not be so afraid, and yet, I fear the Walk-In Closet above all else. Do you think he – [she jerks her head in the direction of the SINK, which is growing slowly but steadily larger] – do you think he suffered a great deal?
The REALTOR spreads her hands and smiles helplessly.
WOMAN: Do you think he is still suffering?
REALTOR: You have asked me not to lie to you.
The WOMAN begins to cry in earnest this time.
WOMAN: I choose, I choose, I choose – I choose the third house, I choose it, I choose the house within walking distance of the shopping district, with the too-small kitchen, with the windowless in-law unit, I choose, I purchase, I offer, I hunt the house, please. I have brought this on myself.
The WOMAN idly runs her hands through the REALTOR’s hair.
WOMAN: I offer myself as budget. I am willing to – to go over.
REALTOR: I can feel his suffering. Even now.
WOMAN: I forgive you.
REALTOR: Do not. Please. [She retches, but cannot bring herself to vomit.]
The WOMAN kisses the REALTOR. The REALTOR melts into the kiss and runs a feverish hand along THE WOMAN’s jawline.
REALTOR [wonderingly, helplessly]: You have such – clean lines.
A horrid shuddering sound comes from just outside the BATHROOM DOOR. The WOMAN and the REALTOR cling to one another. The SINK gurgles, and a MAN’S HAND emerges from it.
SINK: NOT TO GO ON ALL FOURS. NOT TO SUCK UP DRINK. NOT TO CHASE ONE ANOTHER. ARE WE NOT MEN?
WOMAN: God, God. God, God. God, God.
SINK: HIS IS THE HAND THAT MAKES. HIS IS THE HAND THAT WOUNDS. HIS IS THE HAND THAT HEALS.
The MAN’s voice joins the SINK’s.
MAN: OUR BID HAS BEEN ACCEPTED, DARLING. WE MUST GO INTO ESCROW. WE MUST SIGN. YOUR NAME NEXT TO MINE.
The SHUDDERING SOUND intensifies. The WOMAN buries her head in the crook of the REALTOR’s neck.
WOMAN: If you have anything in your pockets – if you have ever loved me, or him – you will kill me, you will do it now –
REALTOR: I –
The DOOR opens. The HAND IN THE SINK waves in greeting. The REALTOR looks down at what she is holding in her arms, and screams.
Republished with permission from Mallory Ortberg’s