Fox’s Single Dads Strives to Make the Web-to-TV Leap


Were your favorite parts of The Hangover the parts where Zach Galifianakis tended to baby “Carlos”? Well, that probably makes you the target demographic for Single Dads, a Fox International web series that launched its first season on Hulu in December.

Created by Pete Karinen and Brian Sacca, the series depicts short vignettes from the lives of Pete (Karinen) and Brian (Sacca), two dudes who haven’t let their babies cramp their dude style. There’s no hint as to why Pete and Brian are taking on parenthood solo, no context provided to their lives. But once you accept the premise, Single Dads makes for light, enjoyable fare.

Karinen and Sacca’s past online adventures include FCU: Fact Checkers Unit, an independent pilot initially released in 2007, then relaunched in 2010 as a branded series for NBC. And while Single Dads, frankly, isn’t quite as funny as those past efforts, the show pulled a good solid laugh or two out of me every episode, due less to the show’s writing and more to the sharp timing of Karinen and Sacca.

The problem, honestly, is that there’s almost something too easy about this material, and the writing never really pushes beyond that level. The comedy ranges from the guys being confused as a gay couple to the guys dealing with a particularly heinous dirty diaper; the series’s best episodes, ultimately, are the most unrealistic — whether it be Pete and Brian engaging in the world’s least-safe stroller contest or Pete Jr.’s grandpa giving him a samurai sword for his birthday.

Although the show is being produced under the Fox International Channels banner, the model is similar to that used by another Fox division, 15 Gigs — that being launch short-form content online as a test case for a potential move to television.

“Releasing Single Dads on Hulu is part of our plan to further develop this project into a TV series. We believe in the series’ long form potential and leave the final decision up to the viewers. If they like it and want more, we’ll make it happen,” Fox International SVP Sharon Tal Yguado said in the show’s initial announcement.

“Developing two seasons for the web allows us to test ideas and talents in an organic way and lets real viewers, instead of development executives, decide on the future of a show,” she added in an email follow-up. “Remember, The Simpsons also started as shorts!”

This, then, leads to a distribution model of “all at once” — 12 episodes of the first season debuted in December (well, technically 11, as Episode 6 was taken off Hulu due to rights issues), and the second season will drop on Feb. 1.

Could Single Dads become another Simpsons? There’s potential here, certainly — Karinen and Sacca are undoubtedly funny, and everyone loves babies. The key would be to push beyond the poop jokes and comic misunderstandings, and tell some stories.

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Adam Bennis

Why in the world do these two guys keep getting funding? It is ridiculous. Brian Sacca and Peter Karinen have produced nothing worthwhile and yet they somehow are being financed to produce this kind of rubbish. They had a write up in the New York times and the writer, Mike Hale clearly gives his opinion of how he doesn’t believe this duo has comedic timing and says that he hopes that next season will be funny. These two phrases describe each thing Sacca and Karinen has managed to ruin. Another example of this exact description is their last endeavor, Fact Checkers Unit their last show was not even tolerable. I watched just to see if they would get their act together, but that never happened. I don’t believe these two will be funded for much more.


Scott, There is only one strategy; ‘follow the money’.

Your interests might have something to do with the climate confusion. TV is just a distribution channel among many different outlets. It is not a new genre with some ‘dogme 95’ blueprint. You are just trained to think that TV Networks are all or nothing. A show has to be 30, 60, or 120. In reality, TV just has that direct link to a built-in scheduled audience and taps into contract-guaranteed ad revenue. But broadcast and cable nets are being forced to open up shops on the internet where the audience is moving to, and where the costs to operate are cheaper on both ends. No iron hands or license requirements are covering that jar yet.

Also consider that the TV networks already work on standard models within an over-regulated and union-heavy environment. And with all those raising costs, it makes it more harder every year for TV nets to take risks on new concepts and fresh ideas not befitting to the homogenized fare on all the ad networks. So naturally, TV networks will lose audience share as the viewers follow the content. And it probably has nothing to do with cords, it has to do with the thirst for new content. The hunger to watch it and to hunger create it.

From what I am seeing, producers are going to the web because the TV nets can’t take the risks with the new and the fresh like they did 40 years ago. And the internet is this new and improved outlet without any gatekeepers, licenses, and unions (SAG’s new media contract is minimum wage vs. TV’s $100+/hr normal rate card). So that proverbial ball is now put back into the creator’s hands, and as more options and distributors appear online, you’ll see a lot more content emerging from independently producers and entertainers off the radar or shifting from other venues. How else would you explain the new Hub Network- A new cable channel dedicated to re-purposed content 20-40 years old?

TV and entertainment will continue to change and evolve as advertisers and audiences have more channel options. Content is and always will be king. It’s just that creating it has become almost impossible to afford, unless your studio is outside ‘Hollywood’s’ or inside your bedroom closet.

Scott Jensen

I hear ya, Todd. But this isn’t theoretical for me.

I am just about to produce a pilot for a half-hour animated series. For the last two months, I have had animation houses around the world bidding on it. I’ve reduced them to a short list and about to reduce that to a candidate list. I also have the guest for the pilot lined up, prepped, and we’re going to be recording the audio track here soon.

My current plan is to put up the pilot on YouTube to gain attention of and generate the buzz in the industry. My goal is to be picked up by a cable TV network as a regular weekly series.

However, if I could get two advertisers to pay to have 15-second ads put into the show’s two micro-breaks (one ad each) and they PAY the same as the cable TV network does (that’s to me as much as the cable TV network would pay me), I would keep the series as an online one. But I have strong doubts I will be able to land such advertisers and I think it is more likely being picked up by a cable TV network.

I will try to interest advertisers … if only to cover costs so I can produce more episodes for YouTube to increase downloads of all and industry buzz. I have a strong lead on one such advertiser so there is the possibility, but I’m not holding my breath.

This is the reason why I’m here. I want to know as much as I can to give my show the best shot I can give it.

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