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Mike White: The Sincere Genius

This show is like no other.  It is one of a kind and to hear White tell it came from a horrible time in his life.  I mean this is groundbreaking stuff, I think it's horrible that it was cancelled.

 

If you watch no other episode watch "The Weekend"  episode 4, season 1.  It is a true work of art.

Edited by CheersEnthusiast.
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^ Agreed!!! His writing on this show cut down to the bone. It was powerful and so real. I loved it. And his Tyler portrayal was amazing. Just his body language, it was like he was full body flinching through the first episodes of season one. Watching him grow as a character was fantastic.

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I love Mike White so much, and love everything I've seen him in. Do you know what kind of personal troubles he was having while writing this series? It would probably explain the melancholia of his character.

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I love Mike White so much, and love everything I've seen him in. Do you know what kind of personal troubles he was having while writing this series? It would probably explain the melancholia of his character.

 

In a March 4, 2013, interview, Mike White told NPR:

"The original pitch to HBO was that it would get to that whistle-blower place in the first season," White tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "but as I started writing there were kind of nooks and crannies of [Amy's] life I wanted to explore, and I got more interested in the digressions than the overall meta-plot ... and so it became a season two arc instead of season one."

 

In writing the whistle-blowing plot line, White drew in part from personal experience. His father, who once wrote speeches for right-wing religious figures like Jerry Falwell, became a whistle-blower himself when he came out as gay.

Edited by editorgrrl.
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That's fascinating. I always knew about his dad, his dad's coming out and becoming a bastion of the Christian Gay Rights movement. It takes a lot of guts to live a life that's the polar opposite from what you were doing. Even as an atheist, he is a hero to me.

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I love Mike White so much, and love everything I've seen him in. Do you know what kind of personal troubles he was having while writing this series? It would probably explain the melancholia of his character.

 

I was referring to the breakdown he had several years earlier that he attributed to the inspiration for the show and the main character.  He lost all control when confronted with yet another artistic feud with a corporate type.   He wound up losing it in a phone call and made the female executive on the other end cry to the point of sobbing.

 

He hated what hollywood had made him become and took time off for meditation and reappraisal of his life.  He came back with a similar attitude toward life as the main character and put these new attitudes into her development and that of this series. 

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CheersEnthusiast, I had no idea about that! I found this 2011 Vulture interview with Mike White:

Do you see yourself at all in Laura Dern’s character, Amy Gillicone?

 

I see myself as someone who’s made a lot of bad decisions. The last show I did [the 2004 short-lived Fox comedy Cracking Up], I kind of had, I guess we'll call it a nervous breakdown. I was like, “Fuck you all” and then basically shut down the show. And then out of it I started reading these kinds of Buddhist-self-help books. And that's kind of what Amy has at the beginning of the season. I like the idea of someone who is real and not a saint, but has these moments of clarity and insight. Because I think that's true in life. People kind of stumble their way through life a lot of times. But then you have these moments where you want to be more aware and try to not make the some mistakes.

 

According to a 2011 New York Times profile

[A]fter a dispute over test screenings, White sent an angry, late-night e-blast to Fox executives, complaining about the handling of the show. To his surprise, he wasn’t fired, but soon afterward, while writing a script, he experienced a full-blown panic attack.… The next thing he knew, he was being checked into Aurora Las Encinas, a psychiatric hospital. “And I’m like, look, I’m not crazy! I’m stressed out! So, I run away—I literally run back to my car. And I check my phone, and there are, like, 10 messages from work.… All these people who had been making my life a living hell were weeping and saying, ‘Just don’t worry about the show, just get the help you need!’ ” Within three days, the show, by chance called “Cracking Up,” was canceled.

 

“In a way it was kind of Buddhist,” he says of the breakdown. “It was the worst thing that could have happened. I embarrassed myself in front of all these important people, I proved myself to not be strong enough to figure this out. I felt weak and lost, like a screw-up, and at the same time, coming out of it, I felt like I’d been given a huge gift.”

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From the interview in New Republic: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/books-and-arts/111959/can-mike-white-change-television-tk

 

 

 

White’s own nervous breakdown came in 2004. He was working on a Fox show called—in a stroke of poetic irony—“Cracking Up,” about an aspiring psychologist who moves into a wealthy family’s house when he is hired as a therapist for their son. The network was in the midst of transitioning from the wilder, subversive days of “Married with Children” to a line-up designed to retain the 20 million viewers who were tuning in for “American Idol.” Every day was a power struggle between White and the network. “They kept trying to turn [my show] into something else,” he said—a wholesome family comedy, whereas his own vision was a bit darker and weirder. He was stressed all the time; he had panic attacks.

 

And then he found out that Fox had tested the pilot against a later episode, and the pilot—more in line with White’s vision for the show—had tested better. But the network, as White tells it, hid the results from him. “I got my hands on this thing and I went crazy,” he recalled. “I felt like they’d made my life hellish under the guise that I was the kooky artist who didn’t know what people wanted.” So he wrote a fax and CC’d all the top network executives involved in the show. You’re liars, he told them. You don’t know what you’re doing. “I was like, you failed!” he said. “You should fire yourselves!”

The fall-out only heightened his anxiety. He heard that he had made the network president cry. Then he had a panic attack so intense he thought he was dying. So he called his father, who encouraged him to get psychiatric help. “Next thing I knew, I was being checked into a real mental health facility, with people shuffling down the hallways,” White said. He jumped into his car and fled. Within days his show was cancelled, and White was left reeling from the suddenness of it, struggling to make sense of what had happened. “The single-mindedness of feeling like my self-worth was wrapped up in the perception of success or failure kind of just spun me out,” he said. “At that point,” he added, “I was like, how could I get so psychologically bad over a failed Fox sitcom?” He started doing yoga and reading Buddhist self-help books. He became a vegan and taught himself to meditate. And the idea for “Enlightened” was born.

 

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Mike White is going to be on the upcoming season of Survivor.

 

Quote

The cast, which again seems very young, includes several famous-ish people:

Mike White, the Hollywood screenwriter, actor, and creator of HBO’s Enlightened. He previously appeared on two seasons of The Amazing Race with his dad, Mel.

https://www.realityblurred.com/realitytv/2018/05/survivor-david-vs-goliath-survivor-37-theme-cast-reports/

 

Maybe he's not getting writing or acting gigs so he's doing reality TV?

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