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Second Generation Television

June 18, 2014

Compared to movies or theater, TV is a relatively new medium, but it’s just old enough that it’s the family business for multiple generations.

The Whedon family

Joss WhedonWhedon created some of the most beloved “cult classics” of the last 20 years—programs fervently loved and obsessed over by devoted fanbases…but that remained little watched. Among his creations: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse. He began his career as a screenwriter and script doctor (Speed, Toy Story, Waterworld) and recently returned to film, directing the very successful comic book movie The Avengers. He also produces that movie’s TV spinoff, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Whedon might also be the first third-generation TV writer. His grandfather, John Whedon, wrote for The Donna Reed Show and Leave It To Beaver.  John Whedon’s son, and Joss’s father, Tom Whedon was on the original writing staff of Captain Kangaroo in 1955, and also wrote scripts for The Electric Company and Benson.

The Kohan family

Jenji Kohan got her start in TV in the 1990s, writing for The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and Mad About You. In 2005, Showtime began airing a show she created, Weeds, a dark comedy about a suburban mom who becomes a drug dealer to pay the bills. It ran for nine seasons. This month, Netflix began streaming the second season of Kohan’s critically acclaimed Orange is the New Black, another black comedy, about the lives of women in a minimum security prison. Kohan’s older brother is David Kohan, who after writing for The Wonder Years, co-created the long-running NBC sitcom Will and Grace. The Kohans’ father: Buz Kohan, a prolific writer and producer for variety shows and TV specials in the 1960s and 1970s. Kohan specialized in jokes, stage banter, and awards show presentations for entertainers such as Ann-Marget, Sammy Davis, Jr., Carol Burnett, Bing Crosby, and the Jackson 5.

The Wayans family

B.E.T. airs a comedy called Second Generation Wayans. It’s created by and stars, appropriately enough, members of the second generation of the Wayans family in show business: Damien Dante Wayans and Craig Wayans. Their uncles are Keenan Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans, the creator/host and star, respectively, of Fox’s 1989-94 sketch comedy series In Living Color.

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