LTD Season 2: New Media Sucks

Rick Eid Columns, Lawyer 26 Comments

The following is a continuation of writer/director Rick Eid’s “Living the Dream Blog,” which he wrote for each episode during Season 1 of the web series.

Season 2 of Living the Dream

Season 2 of Living the Dream is underway. But the real question is why? Why would any rational non-billionaire spend his hard-earned money to produce a web series that generates negative cash flow? Narcissism? A pathetic cry for attention? Boredom? A desperate Hail Mary attempt to strike internet gold?

If I dig real deep into my jaded psyche, I’m pretty sure the real reason I pony up my daughter’s tuition money to make web videos is more about my BigLaw PTSD than my creative yearning. No joke. Years ago, my therapist told me that my experience as an M&A attorney resulted in a moderate form of post-traumatic stress disorder. That’s why I got anxious every time the phone rang or became filled with unspoken rage when someone told me what to do or when to do it.

Yes, my years at Skadden left indelible psychological and emotional scars. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I now at least understand why I waste my time and money on a goddamn web series. And it’s cheaper than therapy—and more fun than meditation.

Like Season 1, the new episodes are meant to examine the absurd pressure and anxiety inherent in BigLaw from the perspective of a naïve, well-intentioned, hard-working junior associate named Nick Conley.

Episode 1: The Review

The Review,” focuses on Nick’s upcoming review and his fear of getting fired.

My “inspiration” for the show dates back to a story I heard my first week at Skadden about a slightly insane senior associate who billed 2600 hours a year for nine straight years—only to be heartlessly passed over for partner. Legend has it that the disgruntled associate saw the bad news coming and brought a .38 revolver into his review. After the bad news was delivered, he pulled the gun, aimed it at the Senior Partner’s face, pulled the trigger, and muttered “Bang.” Moments later, he was escorted out of the firm in handcuffs.

At first, this story seemed preposterous to me. Who the hell would do something so stupid and self-destructive? After a few years of billing 2600 hours myself, however, the story began to make perfect sense. In fact, I began to wonder why more people didn’t pull guns or go insane.

In any event, that apocryphal story became the basis for “The Review.” Given the state of the legal economy and the acute, constant fear of getting laid off, it seemed like an unfortunately topical and relatable concept. A perfect BigLaw cocktail: Equal parts fear, anxiety, and pressure—with just a splash of inherent unfairness.

Episode 2: Politically Correct

Politically Correct” tries to explore the PC culture of the legal workplace. More specifically, it focuses on Nick’s unfortunate attempt to distance himself from an insensitive colleague’s offensive language. He tries to stand up for the gay rights movement, but in the process, ends up coming across as a racist. That’s what you get for being too PC.

One of these days, I suppose Nick will actually learn to keep his mouth shut—or say the “right” thing—or be a selfish, competitive, politically astute gunner. But then he’d be just like the BigLaw tools he despises, and the show wouldn’t be fun to watch. Or write. And it probably wouldn’t help my PTSD much either.

Why New Media Sucks

So why did it take so damn long to produce these additional episodes? The answer is simple: New media sucks. That’s right, it sucks.

A few years ago, people assumed new media would change the world—and at the same time be the template for peace in the Middle East. At a minimum, it would somehow cure cancer. Absolute worst-case scenario, it would drive the old media dinosaurs, like Disney and Time Warner, into oblivion. This new, bold platform would finally offer all those unemployed geniuses the medium upon which to showcase their abundant talents and vanguard cinematic sensibilities. Audiences, advertisers and sponsors would flock to this marvelous, cutting-edge product, hurling praise and dollars at the daring auteurs.

Well, that’s not really the way it happened. Or the way it is, for that matter. In fact, it’s not even close. Like I said, new media sucks.  As best I can tell, sponsors and advertisers seem to be intrigued with the concept of webisodes and “alternative media” series, but not really. TV is still where their bread is buttered, and despite countless predictions to the contrary, that ain’t changing any time soon. Where else can Coca Cola or Lipitor advertise their product in front of 10-15 million people in thirty seconds?

With respect to Living the Dream, we approached (through our “brand integration agent”) about 20 prospective sponsors/advertisers.  We sent them various PowerPoint presentations, put together media kits, compiled traffic data and metrics, pitched integrated plots and storylines . . . .

The good news: Everyone loved the idea. The bad news: No one pulled the trigger. Each brand wanted to sponsor the show, of course, but for some reason, they just couldn’t. As you might imagine, they all had wonderfully reasonable and polite excuses.

“It’s perfect for us, but we need to wait until May.”

“I love it, but would you be willing to create a new series with a female lead who loves golf and facial products? She doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer either.”

“We’re 100% in, but our CMO wants to star in the show and wants to film in Las Vegas. And we need the series to be about ‘super busy women on the go, yet work at home.’”

By comparison, the old media executives in Hollywood—the ones who were supposed to be unemployed by now—seemed ridiculously nurturing and artist-friendly. I suddenly felt guilty for ever doubting their wisdom or insights into the creative process.  If only new media could understand and embrace writers like old media. But wait, wasn’t that the whole damn point?  Wasn’t new media supposed to be creative nirvana for entrepreneurial writers and directors?  A place where we could have total artistic freedom and make a few dollars at the same time?

The deeper I delved into new media, the more I began to covet old media. I suddenly longed for the days when people watched TV on goddamn TVs.

Anyway. After a few months of negotiating this nonsense, I finally gave up and decided to produce more episodes myself. The truth is, even if we closed a deal, the dollar amounts we were discussing would have barely covered the production costs.

That being said, I’m glad we produced more episodes. It was ultimately more fun than expensive—and more therapeutic than stressful.  Hopefully, the bitter and not-so-bitter lawyers of the world will watch and enjoy. But if they don’t, that’s okay too. Like I said, I did this for me. Not them.

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  • Guano Dubango

    I, for one, would like to be the first to congratulate Mr. Eid for his production skills.  I think so many lawyers would appreciate the chance to participate in the video’s for free that you can have your pick of the best of the crop.  Some attorneys may be pretty good.  I suggest we all live the dream of the lawyer through these videos.  Thank you.

  • Bitter Overseas

    Great job. Much appreciated.

  • Alma Federer

    There should not be a tax on beverages in NY City.  Also, I think this guy does a good job with the videos and Nick or whatever his name is is a good actor.

  • BL1Y

    The story from “The Review” sounds eerily like the Amy Bishop story from UAH, except that she actually killed three people.  What the hell is wrong with these people?

  • Anonymous

    Really interesting piece.  Thanks.

  • Lady

    Greatly enjoyed.  Top writing skills, interesting and will definitely seek this blog again.

    I do not understand where this BL1Y is coming from.

  • Craig

    It is a really entertaining series.  I enjoy the blog entries too.

  • Critical

    After reading this entry, the title of the series takes on new meaning: the irony of Nick living his dream, and the reality of Rick living HIS dream.  I am jealous of Mr. Eid and wish him all the best.

  • BL1Y

    Lady: Did you read the story of the associate pulling a .38 after being denied partnership?  Amy Bishop killed three of her colleagues at UAH after being denied tenure.  See a parallel maybe?

  • Lady

    The person you are referring to had a history of violence in her past.  She didn’t just become unglued, things had not worked for her in a long long time.  Her husband reported that he did not suspect her deep concerns, but I bet after the fact, he has recalled many things.  No I do not see a parallel here with Nick since we are not aware of his past or if he had harmed someone.  Symbolism is not factual.

  • BL1Y

    Lady, the story about the associate pulling a .38 isn’t about Nick.  It’s about a real person who pulled a real weapon.  Congrats on reading comprehension and distinguishing fiction from reality.

  • legal secretary dying slowly

    Just wanted to say thank you!  I sincerely appreciate the entertainment and your webisodes help me throughout the day in finding humor in my own hell.

  • Magic Circle Jerk

    Rick, you’re the man. When I see people like you, I realize there is a light at the end of this biglaw associate shit tunnel.  Thanks for funding the second season.

  • Lady

    You are right BL1Y, but did the person who pulled the weapon have a history.  Is he really real or made up to make a article great.

    Thanks for the article Rick.  Carry ON

  • Bill

    Thanks to Rick.  So many lawyers don’t know dick about creativity.  But this dude got his shit together.  He also had the balls to follow his dream, and not do what everyone else said he should.  Dudes like us should follow his lead, and tell their bosses to bite the big one if they aren’t measuring up.  Women should also do the right thing, whatever that is for them.

  • DantheMan

    great series. appreciate the new episodes.

  • Some guy

    Love the new episodes. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. So are we.
    The irony is that to the extent the old media hollywood producers are being supplanted, it’s by even bigger, more rigid ad brokers – AKA Google.

  • qwerty

    why not just pass the hat? i’d donate.

  • anon

    dood stfu and stop whining

  • Big Jim

    Anon@4:24:  The whole thing’s tongue in cheek, which means it’s not whining.  Loser.

  • SH

    What can I say? It may only serve a niche audience, but I guess for this niche, there could not be any better service.

  • TheMaven

    OMG. New media does suck…but its addictive no?! Rick, thank you for doing this. I’m not a lawyer but I do come to the site to watch LTD and I use your site as an example to my communications classes when I talk about great things that haven’t gotten the credit they deserve yet. I feel your frustration, but you give me hope that one day I too can finally launch my own undersung website offering quality content in the midst of the sludge that otherwise congests the web…if only for my own therapeutic needs. You’re my new media hero, dude. Best wishes!!! (and if I had a trust fund I would totally underwrite this!!!)

  • Alex

    First of all, the show was among the best examples of creativity I have ever seen. Far better, it destroys, the constantly spawning only to get cancelled crop of legal crap you see on TV.

    Second of all, you are a damn disgrace for not making more out of this. You remind me of Loyola 2L, in that he too had a brilliant thing going and then he dumped it, or of those bhuddist monks who make those sand paintings only to destroy them.

  • Nick Conley

    @Alex — Wow, dude. Go easy. I’m sure this guy Rick has other things to do than entertain scores of bitter lawyers for free! Having said that, Rick, PLEASE, PLEASE do more episodes! I’d be happy to pay too!

  • Todd

    I come back to this series for a laugh every now and then. I’m not even a lawyer. It is pithy, well cast, and truly targets the funny bone of lawyers and Joe Averages alike.

    You need to pitch it to BBC. You got The Office here — legal edition and very original.

    Eid, you got it.


  • Sean L

    Dear Mr. Eid,

    While it appears that not many people have started watching these episodes, it does occur to me that this Nick Conley character has a lot of depth to him. I think a better idea may be to write a full length feature… though I suppose that kind of work is easier done collaborating with someone else. But I think if you spin things the right way you can transform this into a movie that could go to the Sundance as some slick but poignant commentary of the state of affairs of our early 21st century world.