Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 125

A Trailer Park Spin On Old Sitcoms

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Television is not what it used to be. And in this episode of the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series, we’re going to revisit the favorite sitcoms of old and give them a trailer park twist. We’re going to review how they could be re-made in a mobile home park dimension and what the morals would be of the show. As you’ll see, there’s much to be learned in these new series.

Episode Transcript

Trailer park boys, Myrtle Manor, mobile home park shows stink, they're no good, they're not realistic, they're not... This issue of the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast series, we're going to look at some other shows, better shows, shows from the past, top American sitcoms and rewrite those with the trailer park spin and with good morals and a good meaning.

Let's start off with Who's The Boss. In my rewrite of Who's The Boss, what we'd have is we'd have a mobile home park and the boss in this show would be the park owner. And it would show that the park owner answers not to just himself and his own whims, but to those of the customers, of his bankers, of city hall, of his own conscience. In my episode of Who's the Boss what would happen is, in every episode you would have things pop up and you would have the park owner who on one hand would think of what would benefit just him and him alone, but he never makes that decision because by the end of the show he realizes he can't do it because he wants to help people, wants to help others, wants to feel good about himself, feel good about his life. That would be my rewrite of Who's the Boss.

Let's move on to Happy Days, what would happen in the mobile home park issue of Happy Days? Well, basically in Happy Days now what you would have is it wouldn't be held at a drive-in as a focal point, it would be inside of a mobile home park and you'd find that everyone is happy. The residents are happy, they love living in the mobile home park, they're proud of where they live, proud of what they've accomplished and the owner's happy too. The owner has owned it for a while. He's got the mortgage paid way down or perhaps paid it all off. He's feeling really good about himself, really good about his finances.

And everyone is basically happy because they're all ahead of where they thought they would be. They're all completely able to pay the bills. They've all obtained affordable housing. They have maximum resident retention. No one ever leaves the show just like they never left in Happy Days, doesn't matter how old they became or what happened with them with far as their fame and fortune of their own career. Nevertheless, they hang around in the drive in or in this case, hang around the mobile home park as one happy group. [00:02:15]

Beverly hillbillies, now this one's a little more complicated, so let's figure this one out. Now in the Beverly Hillbillies the show, you had Jed Clampett and his family, they struck oil in Missouri and they moved out to Beverly Hills, but they were thought of as complete hillbillies. Everyone made fun of them, Mr. Drysdale, all the neighbors, they thought they were the biggest idiots in the world who called their swimming pool a cement pond. In this episode of the Beverly Hillbillies of the new trailer park edition, you have a whole very different item you'd show and showcase one of those mobile home parks out there in California. One of the ones in Malibu, one of the ones where the rents are $2,000 a month or more. And what people would find on the show is that people who live in mobile home parks are fact not hillbillies. They're folks who have good incomes, in this case very good incomes, who are living shoulder to shoulder with folks in million dollar homes just like they do in the mobile home parks in Southern California, particularly the ones out in the area known as Malibu.

So what we'd have is in every show is we would show people living in mobile home parks in the entertainment industry. Bear in mind in those parks in Malibu, you've got Hillary Duff, Pam Anderson, Sean Penn for a while, many other stars all located there, driving nice sports cars, going over and having lunch at Spago, going to the Rodeo Drive, going down to Santa Monica, hanging out at the beach, and yes, they live in a mobile home park. In fact, in that very park, you'll find the mobile homes typically sell for around 400,000 all the way up to 1,500,000. I saw one recently in the paper owned by a fashion designer, she was asking 1,500,000 and why? Why was she selling? She wanted to buy another mobile home inside the mobile home park a couple of blocks over. That would be my addition of the Beverly Hillbillies, not what the audience would expect at all.

Because you see it isn't all about hillbillies. 8% of Americans live inside of mobile home parks and there's a very wide range of incomes. It always amazes people that you've got no less than several billionaires living in a mobile home park up in the Northeast on this beach called Montauk. Now, sure, they may not live in there full time, but they do list them as residences. They supposedly use them for parties and for after surfing experiences as far as washing off the sand, but nevertheless, it's not what people expect. So that would be my addition of the Beverly Hillbillies, something that most people would not expect.

Moving on to the most important sitcom of all, the most successful sitcom ever, Friends. Now what happens in the show Friends with the trailer park twist, well now instead of it being based inside of a cafe, it is once again based inside of a mobile home park. And what you find is that everyone is a friend, all of the residents hang out together, they have coffee together, they discuss their life events, they try and help and empower each other. And at the same time you have the park owner, now he doesn't go to the coffee shop much, he in fact owns the coffee shop/mobile home park and he's always in confusion on how friendly should he be with the residents. He wants to watch out for their interests, he wants to retain them, he likes having friends, but he also realizes it's just not a good idea for the landlord to get too personally involved with the residents.

Because a good landlord, as we all know, revolves around being sometimes which appears to be the guy who's kind of got a hard edge to them. Collections only works with no pay, no stay, which means if you don't pay the rent, you have to leave the property. And rules enforcement only worked with no play, no stay. If you won't play by the rules, you can't live there either. Simply not fair to the other residents to have folks living in the mobile home park who will either won't pay the rent or won't follow the rules, not fair to the impact, the quality of life of the other residents.

So in this show you'd have two different dynamics. You would have a show showing how friendly the residents are with each other, even though they're from completely different walks of life often, people who are young, people who are old, people who are employed, people who are in retirement and perhaps people who were employed and just lost their job. But nevertheless, they get along well. They care about each other. They have a sense of community, communal respect for each other.

And at the same time, you had this other party floating around, which is the owner himself who constantly is bewildered. How friendly should he be? Should he be the tough guy on collections? Should he be the tough guy in rules? Should he be the guy that has to make all the worries about paying the bills, paying the taxes, and keeping that mobile home park open? Or should he instead just become another one of the gang, one of their pals, but perhaps if that happens, their best interests will be ruined. He won't be able to pay the mortgage, they might all be displaced. He won't be able to make any money. Possibly he will then give in and have the thing redeveloped into another use. So that'd be my version of the mobile home park version of Friends.

Now, why will we never see any of these shows made? Well, it's because perhaps I'm the only one who thinks it would be interesting. But I think it's very unfair the portrayal that we have received in the media for all these years. There was a different time, if you look back not that long ago, mobile home parks were respectable in the eyes of the media and in the eyes of television. My gosh, Elvis lived in them twice. Lucy and Ricky lived in them once. And there's a lot of other shows, even in the '70s that had positive portrayals of mobile homes and those who live in them. So what the heck happened? I don't know. Somehow or other we got crosswise with the media and now they just tool all over the industry at every possible chance, kind of sad. But there's so many great shows you could produce. So many shows with great morals that are just hanging around there ready to be made.

I did a screen test for a show just a few years ago. I was very excited about it, it was going to be called Trailer Park Rescue. My contract ended a few years ago so I can now freely tell you what the show was going to be about was basically a show in which you follow the course of action of someone who buys a mobile home park and then tries to turn it around. The very thing that we all do, the very thing is... I mean it's not a very special idea, it's not different, but it would have been a positive portrayal at least of what park owners do. Buy the mobile home park, figuring out what improvements to be made, putting in the capex to make those improvements and seeing the general reaction of the residents as their home becomes very, very nice and they can be very proud of living there.

Sadly, it never got off the ground. What happened to it? Well, even though they pick the cast for the show, I was to be the host, they couldn't get the funding for it because they just kind of thought no one cared. Early studies showed that although the average American would love to watch The Kardashians or people getting bitten by reptiles or making giant swords on Forged in Fire, they simply didn't want to see the mobile home park version of Forged in Fire. They didn't want to see people taking an old mobile home park and bringing it back to life, just not interesting enough sadly.

But perhaps someday positive programming will return. I always hope it will. Every time we talk about a new series coming out on television, I always looked through the listings hoping I'll see something positive on our industry, but sadly not. But at least I've now given you a few ideas how you could construct a happy show with good morals about the mobile home park industry. Hopefully someone listening will pick up the ball and run with it. Hopefully someone listening to this podcast works in Hollywood and can go up to someone who actually produces shows and say, "Have I got a great idea for you? I heard it on this Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast and who knows it may become the next big hit." This is Frank Rolfe of the Mobile Home Park Mastery Podcast Series, hope you enjoyed this, be back again next week.