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IFC Upfronts: Just Don't Use the H-Word

After what I presume to be quite a bit of market research, IFC does not like the word "hipster" and refrains from using it at all costs. Of course, you wouldn't be able to tell from their "Upfront-Landia" -- defined by hyper-aware IFC as "network upfront combined with the only show you've ever heard from us" -- event when you first entered the party, as the vibe of the slightly industrial room at Off Broadway's New World Stages screamed "too cool" to me. (Though, oddly, the party was seriously lacking in vegetarian hors d'oeuvres, but I digress.)

IFC sees their audience as "responsible rebels" who are young, cool, creative and ahead of the curve, love sharing the latest trends and are willing to drop money on good content. To you and me, this obviously means hipsters, but rule No. 1 of the IFC rulebook is that you never tell a hipster they're a hipster if you want them to support your cause. After getting a sneak peek of the network's upcoming series, I actually think it has a shot on reining in more viewers -- not that there's a high bar set right now. You know a cabler is used to low ratings when it boats "Season 2 of Portlandia was seen by 13.5 million viewers" -- to give you some perspective, in just one episode (granted, it was the season premiere), Dancing with the Stars had 22.7 million viewers... and that was the series' lowest-rated premiere ever, down 34 percent from last season.

Anyway, in order of descending quality, here's what you can expect from IFC in coming months, besides the Season 3 renewal of Portlandia (which will be back for a one-hour "Brunch Special" in the summer and a half-hour holiday episode before the new year) and Season 2 of Whisker Wars:

Trapped in the Closet (Premieres later the year, date TBD)
I realize this is an odd lead, but as someone who spent many nights gathered around DVDs with friends to watch R. Kelly's hip hopera, the promise of more chapters is extremely exciting.

Maron (Premieres mid-2013)
We're big "WTF" podcast fans and were extremely excited when we first heard rumors of Marc Maron adapting his show into an honest-to-goodness, ten-episode, 30-minute scripted comedy based on his cat-loving life and "WTF" show. For those who aren't familiar with the comedian, he records a very funny podcast with popular comics out of his garage, where they talk about humor, relationships, life and all of those other things that happen when you're not strictly playing with your cats.

Bunk (Premieres Friday, June 8)
Essentially Whose Line Is It Anyway? for a new generation, the charming and very funny Kurt Braunohler (Kristen Schaal's comedy partner) hosts a comedy game show where a panel of comedians compete in inane challenges for bizarre prizes. Aside from Braunohler's initial jokes, the game is entirely improvised, and contestants must use their wit, artist abilities and more to "win" the game. I was initially reminded of That Mitchell and Webb Look's "Numberwang", but an interview with Braunohler revealed that he actually came up with the series while writing for a much lamer game show for another series. Says the host: "[Co-creator Ethan Temberlain] and I kept getting upset that all of our funny ideas that would never make it to air, and literally the idea was, 'What if we did a game show where all of the actual funny things made it to air?'" They shot the pilot by themselves, entered it in the New York Television Festival and it is now officially the first pilot to ever go to series from the festival.

Comedy Bang! Bang! (Premieres Friday, June 8)
Also based on a podcast, former Mr. Show writer Scott Aukerman hosts this surreal late night talk show. Reggie Watts is his one-man bandleader as he interviews performers (including Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Jon Hamm and Amy Poehler, to name a few). Frankly, I usually fast-forward through Aukerman's Comedy Death-Ray segments when I'm watching IFC to begin with (ah, remember the days when IFC was simply associated with not having any commercials?), so this one isn't too high up on my radar.

Out There (Premieres January 2013)
Another upfront, another animated series about two awkward youngsters trying to navigating this crazy world. It's written and executive-produced by South Park's longtime animation director and producer, Ryan Quincy... but after sitting through Allen Gregory, Napoleon Dynamite and Unsupervised these past few months, this premise is the opposite of a hook for me at this point.

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