Erica Oyama is the brains behind Burning Love, the intensely hilarious Bachelor, Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad parody web serial on Yahoo! Screen. Season Three is called Burning Down the House, in which past contestants get together for a bunch of stupid and occasionally dangerous contests all in the name of a $900 cash prize. I've spent a lot of time telling you guys to watch this series, and I'm not going to stop any time soon, because it's really one of the sharpest, funniest shows on the web.
Oyama's married to Burning Love director, producer and star (as bachelor fireman Mark Orlando) Ken Marino, and she's also written episodes of the great Children's Hospital and Wainy Days. Marino and Oyama have recently been hired to adapt the children's book (for adults) Go the F**k to Sleep for the big screen. I got a chance to ask her a few questions, and while I'm bummed to hear that there are no future plans for Burning Love, I'm excited to see what's up next for the writer.
Can you walk me through the process of writing an episode of BURNING LOVE?
I outlined the whole season and worked off of that. Since we have characters leaving the show every episode, there was math involved.
How much input does Ken have on the script, and how much improvisation do you allow for?
Ken and the other producers read the script prior to production. We are very open to improvisation when we shoot. We have so many crazy funny people in the cast, it only works to our benefit.
How early in the production of BURNING LOVE did you know you wanted to do BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE? Were you setting up any jokes in the first two seasons that we'll see pay off in these episodes?
When we shot season 1, I knew the formats we could play with in the next two seasons, but didn't have any particular story lines in mind. We shot seasons 2 and 3 at the same time so I did map out arcs that played out over both seasons.
Have you thought about giving the web series parody treatment to any other reality shows?
I have not thought about doing any other reality parodies. This genre in particular speaks to me so I'm not sure I'd do a great job with anything else.
Can you talk about the limitations and benefits to making a web series versus a traditional network or cable show?
One huge benefit to shooting a web series, in our case, was having so much creative freedom. We got to make the version of the show that we found funniest. We did shoot the series on a budget so we were on a limited schedule.
Which characters do you love writing for most?
I feel like I have to say Mark Orlando, right? Really, I do love to write for Mark. Julie [the season 2 bachelorette, played by June Diane Raphael] is another favorite. Bill Tundle [the Burning Love host played by Michael Ian Black] is amazing. They're really all fun. And the actors bring so much extra to their characters.
Are there any gags you'd love to write that you just haven't been able to fit into an episode yet?
Can't think of any right now!
How many seasons of THE BACHELOR and BACHELORETTE did you watch in preparation for BURNING LOVE?
I watched the show for several seasons before having the idea to parody it.
Can you tell us any future plans for BURNING LOVE after BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE? Anything in particular we should look forward to this season?
We don't have any plans for more BURNING LOVE at the moment. But we are really happy with the way season 3 wraps up!
What drew you to GO THE F**K TO SLEEP? And do you have any other plans on the horizon?
As parents, Ken and I really understood and appreciated the book. We are looking forward to working on the script. I have a couple of other projects in various stages of development.
Burning Down the House has new 13-minute episodes up on Yahoo! Screen every day, Monday through Friday, and even if you missed the first two seasons, I promise you can catch on pretty quickly. After all, you're a smart dude!