Anatomy of My Babysitter's a Vampire
BY Cheryl Binning
My Babysitter’s a Vampire! showrunner Tim Burns describes the show this way” “The comedic tone is twisted, quirky, weird and stupid, and true to the worldview of a 12-year-old self-confessed geek.”
This combination has proved winning for the show, helping it take a bite out of the crowded youth demonic film and TV market dominated by the likes of the Twilight movie franchise and The Vampire Diaries. It’s undead youth programming, set in the world of geeks and nerds.
Babysitter charted new territory in more ways than one – developed by Fresh TV and FreemantleMedia for Teletoon, it marked both the animation production company and the TV channel’s first foray into the live-action genre.
The idea drew first blood as a TV movie written by Burns — it follows three sci-fi loving high-school geeks and a hot vampire babysitter who defend their town from supernatural phenomena. They wisecrack and bumble their way through run-ins with zombies, werewolves and vampires, while also battling the halls of the high school where they deal with other horrors, such as detentions, girls, and bullies.
Then it took on a life of its own. Before the movie even aired in 2010, Teletoon ordered a 13 half-hour-episode season. Disney Channel picked up the first season after shooting wrapped, and fast-tracked it into their American prime time lineup where it was the No. 1 cable show among kids 2-11 in its time period. Babysitter launched in Canada in January of 2011, and a second season wrapped shooting this past November. The distribution deal with Disney Channel means the series is also airing around the world.
“We knew we were pushing the envelope while writing season one, so when it showed up on Disney, it stuck out and got noticed because it isn’t the usual type of show that goes through their development process,” says Burns. “It was a strange fit for them but it touched a nerve with their audience which is great.”
Zeroing in on Audience
From the outset Burns stuck to the vision of making a show about nerd boys for nerd boys, and didn’t stray from that.
“We knew who we were writing the show for and, if anything has been proven, it’s that this approach can pay dividends because you aren’t watering down the tone of your show,” says Mike Kiss, executive story editor on season one and consulting producer on season two. “If you make a show that knows what it is and is fun to watch, I think an audience will find it. If you go after your core audience, you are going to get a lot of spillover.”
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