Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Cavemen, the TV show

I am not going to make a habit of doing TV reviews, particularly of situation comedies. Mostly I stick to books. But I'm making an exception for Cavemen. Why? Well, the lead characters on this show, for which you can find a review here , suggests that this is another Hollywood bright idea which has turned into a stinker.

Cavemen is basically a spinoff from the Geico "caveman" commercials, where some Geico representative cheerfully tells us "it's so easy a caveman could to it". And then a "caveman" appears, showing how completely insulted he is, to be deemed so utterly stupid. Oh, and he doesn't like Geico Insurance, either. These ads, appearing as "spots" on various TV shows, were actually quite clever. The actors in these ads were made up to look like Neandertals, but they were dressed as "modern" humans would be. I don't know if the people who dreamed up these ads know anything about the way Neandertals tend to be portrayed, both in "reconstructions" and as a group of prehistoric people, but the Geico ads captured the ambivalence we "moderns" feel about them, very, very well. And that was what made the ads so popular. It made them so popular, in fact, that some Hollywood types got the idea that they could do a "spinoff" comedy about them.

In a way, this is actually a good idea. It might be possible to create a TV series around a group or family of Neandertals living in the present time(let the creative Hollywood types figure out how they got here in the first place). But it would have to be completely independent of any "advertisement" tie-ins. And I think it would have to make them both "different" from "modern" humans, in some ways --- and I'm not talking about the obvious anatomical differences, but things that are likely to be more subtle, e.g. cultura values, etc. And it couldn't just focus on guys, which would be tempting, but it wold miss the point. It would also have to demonstrate, in some way, what they would be likely to have in common with "modern" humans.

Yes, there could be "racial" or "ethnic" issues --- if you want to put it that way. And these issues could be framed in such a way as to highlight our own, shall we say, imperfections, in a comedic way.

But such a TV series would have to dig deeper in order to have any lasting impact. And it would have to be a "dramedy" rather than the kind of comedy that the producers of Cavemen have opted for. It's unfortunate that this seems to be beyond the imagination of the producers and the scriptwriters of this show. But I suppose that's Hollywood.

In any case, if there are any Hollywood types out there reading this blog, I have a potential script for them. It's about a teenage Neandertal girl and her family, who live in a former Western Washington timber town that has been partly "invaded" by yuppies, among other things. Oh, and nobody knows she and her family are Neandertals; they keep quiet about this, and besides, they're supposed to be extinct. So yoo-hoo, Hollywood! If you want a show that might have a chance of succeeding, get me in touch with somebody, and I'll find someone who will help me write a script. It can't hurt anything, and it might even be successful!
Anne G


SEA said...

What a crazy world we live in where neanderthals are on television and new writers are on the web at Seems backwards....

Anne Gilbert said...


Since this is (supposed) to be mostly a writer's blog, I"m going to link your site to this blog. I hope that helps!
Anne G

Perry said...

This show should be on right after Cavemen. Found it on youtube...

Tim said...

Anne - good post - I remember writing something on this back in the Spring, but hadn't realised they'd actually gone ahead and made the show.

I think one of the main problems is that they've decided to go for a sit-com format in the first place - there's only so much mileage to be had from the idea of Neanderthals as sophisticated consumers, and I think there's a load of other issues that could be brought into play, which would still allow the writers to include a little wit from time to time.

btw, hope you don't mind, but I submitted your post to the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival at Hot Cup of Joe.

Anne Gilbert said...


Gosh. I don't mind at all, that you sent my comment to Four Stone Hearth. Heck, I got "into" this whole "can of worms" partly because I was an anthropology major at one time!

That aside, though, your thinking pretty much mirrors mine. A "one note" sitcom about Neandertals really doesn't work(and frankly, I don't think this show did). My science fiction(not just the Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpice With Neandertals), follows a slightly different "formula", if you want to call it that. My idea is, because the N's can act "human", they try to fit in, and not be noticed. This is especially the case in the stuff I have written(which, for the moment, is set aside)that takes place in the near future. In fact, in this scenario, nobody knows they have Neandertal neighbors! And some strange things happen, because of this.

Now if these Hollywood types could dig up some writers who were willing to work on a premise something like mine, and turn it into a series, you could, I think, get a quite nice "dramedy" series that might interest a lot of people --- it might even stimulate some people to study prehistory and paleoanthropology! The point is, I think, Neandertals deserve better than sitcoms here. But that's another story. And I doubt if any Hollywood types have a clue that this blog exists, because if they did, maybe, just maybe, somebody could start working on that script!
Anne G