A&E to premiere new 'Family Plots' funeral home reality series on April 19
By Reality TV World staff, 03/08/2004
Having already gone into the skys to document adventures in air travel with its successful Airline series, the A&E Network now plans to go six feet under and follow the funeral home business. Similar to HBO's fictional Six Feet Under series, the network's new unscripted Family Plots series, premiering April 19 at 9PN ET/PT, will chronicle the comings and goings of a real Southern California family-run mortuary.
Originally announced in December with a working title of Dearly Departed, Plots follows the Wissmillers, a trio of adult sisters who work at a mortuary in Poway, a suburb north of San Diego. Owned by the fiance of one of the sisters, the women's father also works at the establishment, giving the business a true family-run feel.
Unlike the HBO series, A&E's unscripted Family Plots will feature little drama and more humor -- or apparently as much humor as possible given the series' somber setting. "It's somewhat like The Osbournes because there's a tremendous amount of humor," Bob DeBitetto, an A&E executive told The Hollywood Reporter. "But nothing frivolous because these people are working in the shadow of death."
Family Plots came about due to the popularity of a mortuary segment on the network's Take This Job series which documents unusual occupations. The Wissmillers were chosen from among five finalists. They were "utterly compelling," according to DeBitetto. "They were articulate, edgy -- everything you'd want for a scripted show. They just happened to be real."
Like other networks, A&E admits that a desire for younger viewer demographics is responsible for the addition of non-documentary unscripted programming to its schedule. "We're looking at a variety of ways to expand the offerings at A&E to find new genres that will appeal to a younger audience," DeBitetto told the paper. "I think [the series] will push the envelope somewhat, but it's not about shock value."