Ben Stiller will bring us the ‘Reality Bites’ tv show: worst idea ever?

Winona Ryder

Okay, so I got a little bit carried away when thinking about this post and looking at some movie stills from 1994’s Reality Bites, which was the creation of first-time director Ben Stiller and writer Helen Childress. Stiller, or course, played the uptight stiff who fell in love with Winona Ryder’s pre-manic-pixie-dream girl; and Ethan Hawke (who got the best line in the movie, “[You look like] a doily.”) played the romantic foil and best friend to Ryder’s Lainey. But the real attraction of the movie was the group of four friends (which also included Steve Zahn and Janeane Garafalo, who was entirely underrated and amazing in her role) fresh from college graduation and wandering aimlessly into the infancy of adulthood.

Winona Ryder

Ahhh, to remember a time when happiness in life was rated by the size of one’s Big Gulp.

Ben Stiller

I have so many fond memories of this movie, but now Ben Stiller wants to barge in on my unwritten fan fiction (a threesome between Garafalo, Stiller, and Ryder, perhaps?) and make an NBC television show based upon the movie. What is his glitch?

Reality Bites, the cult 1994 romantic comedy that examined the angst of Generation X college graduates, is heading to primetime. The film’s director Ben Stiller and writer Helen Childress have teamed for a TV series version of the movie that starred Winona Ryder, Stiller and Ethan Hawke. Childress will write the single-camera comedy project, which is set up at NBC. It centers on recent college graduate Lelaina Pierce, the character played in the movie by Ryder, as she struggles to make her way – romantically and professionally – in the recession-plagued, pre-Internet early 1990s. Set in Houston, the show, and Lelaina herself with her video camera, chronicles the lives of her “slacker” friends with whom she shares an apartment. The series is produced by Universal Television, sibling to the film’s producer Universal Pictures. Co-producing with Uni TV are Stiller’s Red Hour Television and Double Feature Films, the company run by Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, who were producers on the 1994 film. Red Hours’ Stiller, Debbie Liebling, and Stuart Cornfeld executive produce with Childress, Shamberg and Sher.

[From Deadline]

I don’t know … maybe hope exists for this prospective mess? The movie itself was set in recession-bound early 1990s Houston, so perhaps the financial overtones will resonate with today’s television viewers. Still, I can’t think of a really successful television show that accurately captured the spirit of the movie upon which it was based. Sure, there have been shows like this that have succeeded for years at a time, but there is always a fundamental shift in approach to subject matter. Even with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” there was a huge difference in tone between movie and tv. Of course, I’m sure the “Reality Bites” show will preserve the gimmick of the Lelaina character walking around with her video camera, and execs will think that’s enough to preserve the movie’s honor.

Leave me alone with my memories, Stiller. God, Ethan Hawke was a yummy douche back then.

Ethan Hawke

Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder

Ben Stiller

Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures, AllMoviePhoto, and WENN

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42 Responses to “Ben Stiller will bring us the ‘Reality Bites’ tv show: worst idea ever?”

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  1. Dorothy#1 says:

    I don’t know, could be good. Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show was much better than the movie, but the movie sucked so that’s not saying much.

  2. shump says:

    This is going to be a hot mess.

  3. lisa says:

    aw he wants to be relevant again

  4. Pinky says:


  5. blue marie says:

    horrible idea..

  6. Happyhat says:

    I hate this film, and only because I realise that it’s how I still live my life and I’m in my early 30’s. But I’m not as cool as them, nor stoned, nor do I have a cool job either. And someone said I looked like Winona Ryder a few months before she went all shoplifty.

    This film brings up difficult emotions for me.

  7. lenje says:

    Oh, I am interested in this. I know I won’t get the movie’s original actors, but that’s probably the appeal, because I don’t want to take them off the pedestal :). I don’t wanna this to be comedy though, not even a la ‘Girls’. Bring me some real drama!

  8. lady mary. says:

    this was one of my all time fav 90 movie ,loved all the fou rfriends,and winona looked her most gorgeous self in this movie ,well therre was no gr8 storyline in that movie ,it was gr8 bcoz of its cast,cant see it bein made into a tvseries,almost all the major tv series look like realty bites these days

    • Happyhat says:

      That’s what I was thinking! Is this just gonna be a slightly different version of Girls or something?!

    • Laura says:

      I thought this too, I’ve never seen reality bites but know of it through pop culture and it seems like a lot of tv shows. Disgruntled super cool, super good looking hipster trying to make in a big city. What they should do is make The Misadventures of an awkward black girl happen. I love that show!!
      (Random plug I know, but I was watching yesterday on youtube)

      • LAK says:

        OMG, i stumbled on Awkward Black girl recently. Watched all available episodes on youtube in one go which made for a very tired cranky day for lack of sleep.

        I love this show. It was edgier before Pharell’s company picked it up, would love to see a TV version of this and nothing lost in transfer.

  9. Mindy says:

    Sick to death of tv shows about quirky single girls who are invariably a mess because thats the gag guys! Shes smart, pretty, not destitute but she aint got a man so she does dumb sh*t trying to find a man……….now laugh puppets, laugh. My namesakes (Mindy Kaling) crap show was the freaking final straw for me.

    • Happyhat says:

      I lost all the mild respect I had for Kaling when I watched her show.

      This reminds me of that Family Guy ‘Busy Business Woman’ gag. At some point, some guy is gonna come along and be like “I’d like to show you that all your problems can be solved by my penis.”

      • lbeees says:

        Aw, I thought The Mindy Project was really funny. Pretty lowbrow humor at times, but then I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare.

  10. Shw says:

    To paraphrase Troy Dyer. “There is no point to any of this. It’ll be just a.. a.. Random lottery of meaningless tragedy and series of near escapes”.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit back, look at the sky, smoke a Camel Straight and ride my own melt.

  11. Jennifer12 says:

    So now we’re memorializing the 90s??

  12. Jennifer12 says:

    Most of us who were into alt rock or punk thought this was a terrible film, by the way. It was playing off what they thought was hip; Hollywood does punk. NOT.

    • Happyhat says:

      Living in the UK, this was my dream of what adulthood would look like. Hollywood ‘hipster’ punk!!

  13. Tessa says:

    I didn’t actually like Reality Bites. I liked the soundtrack, the grungy look of Troy, and Leilana’s hair… but the movie itself is lacking. I remember being disappointed and wanting to like it when it came out, but not really liking it. I doubt the TV show will be much better.

    • neelyo says:

      Me too. The idea of the film was much better than the film itself.

    • Becky1 says:

      I also loved the soundtrack but was disappointed with the movie. I was a senior in college when it was released and I remember being psyched to see a movie targeted to my generation. My expectations were high and I was disappointed. It was an entertaining movie but I didn’t think it was all that great. In terms of Gen X/grunge era movies I think “Singles” is actually much better.

  14. bns says:

    Winona Ryder is so beautiful.

  15. Nev says:

    One of my faves movies…ahhhhhh good times!!!!!

  16. bettyrose says:

    Ohgawd just let the 90s be. The whole theme of that movie was so specific to the time period, coming out of the 80s recession, in the few moments of time before the tech boom and explosion of youth culture domination. You just cannot recreate that in a way that makes sense now. Why would anyone under 35 watch this?

    • TQB says:

      I suspect they’re targeting the over-35s. And, as one of them, I say, leave my f’ing post-college void trauma back in the 90s, damn you!

  17. Lisa says:

    I love Janeane Garafalo in that role. Some things should stay in the past!

  18. mia girl says:

    Why exactly are they doing this?
    I had a very similar relationship with my friend/love as Lainey and Troy’s, so I must have watched this movie 25 times. Except my Troy wasn’t so tortured and we didnt end up together and laughing over the use of my dad’s gas card.

    Funny enough, I was never an Ethan Hawke fangirl then, but in just the past two weeks have became one. I read his reddit forum and it was great (he converted those folks into fans) and then just yesterday I listened to his interview on EW Radio on XM. At least at this point in his life/career he is a pretty cool, smart, grounded guy with some interesting stories/perspectives. I’m into him now.

  19. junegorilla says:

    Orange is the new friends?

  20. Emily C. says:

    I hated the ending to that movie. “So the exec I was dating didn’t get me the deal I wanted, though he tried his hardest and didn’t know what would happen to my work, so I’ll make a beeline back to the self-absorbed douche, because it’s not like I could go a third way!”

    The soundtrack was good. The movie itself was… nothing.

  21. Claudia says:

    Winona was so beautiful then… not that she isn’t now, but I loved her face when it was a bit fuller. And Ethan Hawke! I forgot how gorgeous he used to be (his face is too thin right now… he always looks sickly).

  22. Happy21 says:

    NO!!! Just NO!!! Please don’t ruin this movie for me. This and Singles were like the quintessential 90’s grunge movies for me. They were my teenage years

    Please NO!!!

  23. Tiffany :) says:

    My friends and I used to recite (in a Winona accent)

    “Money? Oh, but what’s money to an artist? To a philosopher? It’s just green-colored paper…that floats in and out of his life like snow.”

  24. Ag says:

    No! Don’t destroy my memories of this awesome movie, Ben! It’s been 20 years! Let it be!

  25. emma says:

    I think it could be good, as long as they keep it non-PC and don’t make it too slick looking.

  26. Original Me says:

    When this movie came out, it was not considered “cool”. It was just Hollywood capitalizing on the trends at the time. It was a mainstream movie trying to be all hip. If you were in the whole indie scene you would not have seen this movie! I secretly loved Reality Bites and Singles, but had to keep it on the down low or the pseudo arty people I knew in college would have made fun of me relentlessly.
    I think it would be more interesting to see an update of what the characters have evolved in to. A one camera (ugh, not that stupid shaky camera crap) show going back to the 90’s is just a recipe for disaster.
    The best line of Reality Bites is “Hello, and welcome to the winter of our discontent” and “Don’t bogart that can….man”. Nobody every used the word bogart that way, that I know of, but it worked for some reason.

  27. stephanie says:

    I Really loved this post. “what’s his glitch?” amazing. and then ethan hawke goes, “what’s my GLITCH?” This was my favorite movie as a teen.