'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' Remake Starring Emily Hampshire Has Found A Home At TBS

This week, TV legend Norman Lear celebrated his 99th birthday, a milestone that might make you assume the famed producer is stepping into retirement. But a master of comedy like Lear is all about subversion and took the special occasion to promote his latest venture — a reboot of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman that's just found its home on TBS.

The original series from 1976 followed an Ohio housewife slowly unraveling due to the influence of consumerism. It was considered far ahead of its time, delving into the housewife's psyche and offering biting commentary on consumerism, all while poking fun at the soap opera format it aped. The new series will follow the titular character in the modern age now launched into fame after her mental breakdown goes viral. This updated version of the series will surely have plenty to say about media consumption and internet fame, cleverly setting the show up for a new generation.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lear has already put together the perfect team for the job. Schitt's Creek star Emily Hampshire will take on the titular role and is also on board to co-write and executive produce the series. She'll work alongside fellow co-writer, producer, and showrunner Jacob Tierney, who you might know as the creator of another acclaimed and beloved Canadian comedy series: Letterkenny.

The Modern TV Housewife

Hampshire's new series ironically has a lot in common with another show starring a Schitt's Creek alum: Annie Murphy's Kevin Can F**k himself. The AMC comedy series is a dark twist on the sitcom format, also taking a satirical approach to storytelling.

Murphy stars as a housewife experiencing her sitcom premise and quirky scenarios as though she's in a Breaking Bad-style drama. Murphy's Allison is beginning to unravel herself, mostly due to her oafish, selfish husband Kevin (Erik Petersen). The show mixes single-camera realism and multi-camera comedy, alternating between the two to draw out the drama of her distressing circumstances.

Mary Hartman called attention to the soap opera format in a pretty similar way, using the twisting, elaborate, melodramatic plotline and pairing them with Hartman's numb response to the drama. The show featured characters dying in elaborate and unusual ways, like being impaled on Christmas trees or drowning in soup, but Hartman would simply persevere, driven by love for her family. A contemporary version of this could swing in the same darkly funny direction as Kevin can F**k himself.

With Tierney and Lear's involvement, that's almost a guarantee.

The Work of Norman Lear

Norman Lear was responsible for many of the shows that defined TV in the '60s and '70s. Sitcoms like All In The Family and The Jeffersons became the blueprint for sitcoms of the era and beyond. He even went on to prove his ability to update the classics by working on a 2017 remake of One Day At A Time.

Lear recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to talk through his illustrious career and the approach to comedy that defined it. When it came to working with writers, Lear encouraged them to work from personal experience rather than constructing contrived scenarios. He said,

"I instructed other writers that were coming to work for us to pay a lot of attention to their kids, their marriages, their families, the newspapers, everything that was going on in our country, in our schools and our workplaces and our lives. And write about that. It isn't important that the roast is ruined and the boss is coming to dinner. It's important that your 14-year-old is behaving in a way that makes you think he or she is terribly unhappy, and you've got to get to the bottom of that to help the child through it. Let's work with real problems, there's comedy in the foolishness of the human condition."

Mary Hartman became a beloved cult classic because of its clever commentary around the idea of the human condition. With Lear's continued involvement and a promising team beside him, we can keep our hopes high for the reboot.