One of the rewards available on the Indiegogo I set up for my upcoming reading tour is that I will write or draw whatever you want for $25. Casey Childers of Shipwreck and Write Club SF requested what follows for his donation– a series bible for a TV show idea he had. The title and introductory “pitch” text in quotes are his, what he had me work with. The rest, I made up. As a contributor, one can choose to share one’s perk in whatever manner one chooses– he chose to have it published here.
Ride Low, Sell High
“They came to flip houses, they stayed to flip switches. The story of a couple of inexperienced real estate investors who get caught up in their target neighborhood’s lowrider scene.”
Half-hour dramedy, takes place in Los Angeles circa 2005. Takes a serious look at the real estate crisis of the past decade or so, as well as race relations, but via goofy characters and zany situations.
JESSICA BLAND: Kristen Schaal type. Moves from Idaho with her husband to a fictional barrio in Los Angeles to buy up houses and flip them. In the backyard of one of the houses, she finds a lowrider car that turns out to be legendary in the neighborhood—she later finds she has a knack for driving it, and that maybe this is her real passion in life.
WHITEY BLAND: Mike Birbiglia type. Jessica’s husband. Milquetoast who occasionally exhibits a flair for the over-dramatic. Gets a tip from his evil college buddy that a bunch of super-fancy apartments will be going up in the neighborhood in ten years or so, and that he should flip this row of houses. Whitey lost a bunch of money in the dot com boom so decides to spend what he has left investing in the surely evergreen market of real estate. Wants to be a Good White Guy but is wary of the lowriders/ other cultures in general.
K-CUP RAMIREZ: Leader of Los Chicos Solitarios car club, who starts to grudgingly accept Jessica but who also despises gentrification.
MIKEY FAIRCHILD: Evil developer friend of Whitey’s. Super-powerful but also just charming enough to convince everybody that all his ideas are the best for everybody.
CHAVO LOPEZ: Mythical figure who owned Jessica’s car. May not even really exist, every detail of his life is up for debate, mostly seen in flashbacks when people are telling stories about him.
SEASON ARC: Much of the first few episodes concern the couples’ various slapstick struggles trying to fix up dilapidated and abandoned houses, as well as making fools of themselves trying to understand fairly well-known Latino American traditions. Meanwhile, Jessica discovers this car and her own racing abilities. The car’s former owner, Chavo, is legendary and everyone who knew him has different accounts of the stuff he used to do—amazing things, unpredictable things—fought coyotes, had a hundred wives, and so forth. Before he left town under mysterious circumstances, he left his car to the people of the neighborhood, but no one could even handle driving it, like some hero’s wild horse or something—until now.
Individual episode arcs could address potential holes in the premise overall, such as how Jessica became an amazing driver in the first place and why lowriding specifically appeals to her, and how jealous and uncomfortable Whitey chooses to feel about Jessica’s newfound friendship with the dudes in the car club, how he gets along with them, etc. Other subplots can further elaborate on the residents of the neighborhood, as well as on the story of the Blands’ marriage.
The Blands find themselves finally making some progress towards the houses getting fixed up and even make a few sales, but then some characters they’re now friendly with get their rents raised unreasonably high as a result, plus a new cocktails-and-craft-beers bar pops up and starts enacting racist policies. A rival car club, full of jerks, wants to have a hydraulics competition with Los Chicos and Jessica gets nominated to be a major part of it. K-Cup starts to discover the machinations of Mikey’s development plans and tries to blow the lid off them, continually stumbling on increasingly convoluted and nefarious elements of the scheme but ultimately coming up short in terms of ways of defeating the guy.
Finally Mikey starts using the local police, who he has in his pocket, to systematically intimidate Los Chicos and their families in a further effort to take over the neighborhood, and so Jessica and Whitey have, let’s face it, a pretty easy decision to make. But what to do about it? Our heroes are all hapless and Mikey has the upper hand. All is lost– until Chavo shows up. Chavo’s put together a really compelling legal case against Mikey, found some loopholes and some evidence, which he prosecutes in court himself and wins. Guy can do anything!
With Mikey headed for jail and Chavo driving very, very slowly off into the sunset in his famous car, what could possibly be left for another season? For starters, everyone who was displaced before now lives with the Blands, and Mikey’s associates have begun their work to both get him exonerated and continue plundering the neighborhood. We see Mikey in the hut pumping iron and getting stick-and-pokes on his knuckles. Plus, what is Chavo’s whole backstory, what motivates him? Will he return? And also, this housing market is coming perilously close to a disastrous crash…