I created a surreal sitcom for which I wrote a spec script not so long ago. A friend got it to a writer/producer who said he thought it was very funny, but he couldn't identify enough with the characters and I should change it to make it more like a current comedy series about the challenges of a working class single parent.
There was a time when I probably would have scrambled to try to do that, but I won't, and here's why:
IT IS WHAT IT IS.
What I mean is that while it's always possible to improve a piece of writing, it's a waste of time to change it to try to make it something that it isn't. Usually, the result is a compromise that won't please anybody. And I have the stories to prove it...
AN EXPERIENCE I CAN (ALMOST) LAUGH ABOUT NOW
Once upon a time I wrote a romantic comedy TV movie that the wonderful producer Stan Margulies wanted to make (he produced the original "Roots' mini-series).
We took it to one network and they said they wanted to do it with a particular actress. The next week, it came out that this actress had a drug problem, and the network backed out.
Stan and I took it to another network. They said they loved it, they wanted only one change: "Someone should be trying to kill the young woman."
We pointed out that it's a romantic comedy. "Oh yeah, don't lose that," the network exec said. "Just add the thriller element."
Stan and I had a lunch of pasta and lots of wine. LOTS of wine. We talked ourselves into trying it. I hated every minute of writing that version.
I hated every minute of writing that version.
We took it back to the network exec. He loved it. However, his boss, who made the final decision, didn't, and the network didn't make it.
We'll never know whether the top guy would have gone ahead with the original if we'd been able to get it to him directly, but I learned a lesson.
IF IT FAILS, LET IT FAIL FOR THE RIGHT REASON
In the sitcom, naturally I want my characters to be plausible within the world I've created, but the series is about the strangeness of everyday life, as reflected in fantasies and events that, while grounded in the greater reality, are not commonplace everyday events.
Giving the characters the kind of emotional reality that might attach to a single parent struggling to make ends meet would be incompatible with the basic idea of the series.
The series may or may not be any good, but if it fails I want it to fail on its own terms.
It calls to mind a quote that has been attributed to various people, including Luther Price:
"Be what you is, not what you ain't; 'cause if you ain't what you is, you is what you ain't."
I share this in case it's helpful when you get advice about your writing.
Ask yourself whether the change would make it a better version of what it is, or would it force it to try to be something it ain't.
If it's the latter, forget it, no matter how much wine you've had.
(Come to think of it, this might be a good practice regardless of what the advice is about.)