Would these popular or classic TV shows have been popular or classic TV shows if they’d gone with their original title ideas? Maybe not.
Not the Cosby Show
When Married…with Children hit TV in 1987 as one of the first ever shows on the Fox Network, the family sitcom was radically different than contemporary sticky-sweet sitcoms, like Growing Pains and The Cosby Show. The family was dysfunctional and just barely scraping by, the polar opposite of The Cosby Show. So much so, it had the working title Not the Cosby Show.
Grey’s Anatomy is a pretty clever title for a medical show. The 19th century medical textbook Gray’s Anatomy is still widely used, and the lead character on the show is named Meredith Grey. Had that connection not occurred to the show’s producers, they would’ve gone with the boring, first idea: Surgeons.
The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport
The generically-titled American Housewife is a present-day hit for ABC, a comedy about a single-income family—dad is a college professor, mom is a full-time homemaker with three precocious kids. They live in the extremely wealthy, at times superficial city of Westport, Connecticut. That, and star Katy Mixon’s non-beanpole body frame is why the show was originally titled The Second Fattest Housewife in Westport.
Chicks and D****
Since it ran for seven seasons, the title New Girl became increasingly inaccurate. The title initially referred to how main character Jess Day (Zooey Deschanel) striking out on her own after breaking up with a cheating boyfriend and moving into an L.A. loft with a bunch of guys. Original title: Chicks and D****.
What’s the one word you could use to describe Fonzie, from TV’s Happy Days? Probably “cool,” right? Cool was show creator Garry Marshall’s first choice for the title, until a person in a test audience thought it sounded like “a brand of cigarette.”
Owl Stretching Time
Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a silly, absurd title befitting a silly, absurd sketch comedy show made by a bunch of silly, absurd British sketch comedians. The Monty Python troupe wanted to call their BBC showcase Owl Stretching Time.
Lenny, Penny, and Kenny
The title The Big Bang Theory doesn’t have much to do with the show’s content, other than the fact that it’s a scientific term and the show is about the personal lives of Cal Tech scientists Leonard and Sheldon and their neighbor, Penny. Creators Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre first went with the title Lenny, Penny, and Kenny before changing it (and changing “Lenny” and “Kenny” to “Leonard” and “Sheldon.”)
The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills
Little things mean a lot. The Beverly Hillbillies was nearly titled The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills.