Web Series ‘Burning Love' Scorches Reality Dating Shows

Ken Marino's parody of 'Bachelor'-style TV is burning up the Internet

How do you inventively parody the dating show genre when it practically parodies itself? Ken Marino has a few ideas on how it should be done.

Marino is the out-there comedic actor with leading man good looks best known for his stints on “The State,” “Party Down” and “Children’s Hospital,” and co-writing “Role Models” and “Wanderlust” with his frequent collaborator, director David Wain. When his wife Erica Oyama, a writer on “Children’s Hospital,” over-binged on dating shows during pregnancy bed rest, she turned her saturation into comedy by writing the script for “Burning Love,” the story of fireman Mark Orlando’s (Marino) on-camera search for the perfect mate – and a dead-on, hilarious send-up of the familiar trappings of “The Bachelor” and its ilk.

After landing a deal to turn their concept into a web series for Yahoo’s Comedy Central channel, the couple recruited some friends – several of whom happen to be famous faces in the comedy world, including Ben Stiller, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Paul Scheer, Michael Ian Black, Ken Jeoung, Carla Gallo, Adam Scott – to join in their fun. Marino tells PopcornBiz how a silly notion suddenly became an all-star web sensation.

Do you watch reality TV because your wife loves it and you're in the room while the TV is on, or are you into it yourself?

I watch it.  There are people who watch it kind of ironically, to kind of sit there and make fun of it, and then I think there's another group of people who watch it to get swept away in the romance of it and the drama of it all. I think I land somewhere in the middle. I was originally watching it ironically, and it's not that I get swept up in the romance and the drama of it all completely, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I have a special place in my heart for those types of shows. There's a guilty pleasure about them that I can't escape. I think the same holds true with her. We can't help but watch.

During your show business rise did you ever have a manager or an agent try to talk you into going on one of these shows?

Oh, God, no. I'm not nearly as handsome or as charismatic as the gentlemen on those shows.

Was it easy to figure out a process for this?

When Erica was pregnant with our first child, Riley, she was lying in bed a lot towards the end of it and there were these marathons of 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachlorette' and shows like that. So she was just sitting there watching in them and I think that it got so deep into her that it became second nature when she started writing, as to what to reference and what to kind of push a little bit and make a little more extreme and what to just honor tonally and things like that.

How did the cast come into the mix?

Adam [Scott] was in from the beginning and excited about it, and then I've been very lucky and blessed to have so many talented and funny people in my life who are friends and who are extremely good at what they do. So, I would just call them up and say, 'Hey, do you want to do this?' Nine times out of ten they would say yes because it was a short time commitment and it's always fun to just be silly and play these kinds of extreme characters. Then of course the one person who said no of the nine out of ten is dead to me now.

How did you go about getting Jennifer Aniston, who you worked with on "Wamderlust," to do her little cameo?

Jen is one of the nicest, kindest, most talented people I've met out here. Erica and I were talking about who would the best person, the dream person, to take off the panda head – who it would be. We were both, like, 'Well – Jen. That would be killer, if Jen took off the panda head and it was Jen all along.' So we wrote her an email or I called her up, or something, and without hesitation she was like, 'Absolutely. I'll do it.' She's just phenomenal.

So many people in your industry have a web property out or in the works now out. What's happening in that world that's attracting the talent, and what are the advantages for someone like you in developing these kinds of projects?

Look, doing something on the Internet, a web-series, there's a certain freedom to it and you get to get your voice out there in probably the purest way possible. That's appealing to me. On a much, much smaller scale it's kind of what…I'm doing what somebody like Louie C. K. does on a much bigger scale, which is that he creates it and does it and it's his and the buck stops with him. I think that's ultimately the goal for people putting stuff out there. They want their stuff to be seen the way that they see it, and then for better or for worse people to respond to it.


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