The story of how Mirkin and co. got the show to air in the first place is pretty funny in and of itself. Elliott, who had gained recognition for his work on “Late Night with David Letterman” was said to have pitched “Get A Life” as a show in which he would play Dennis the Menace as an adult. But, in reality, he, Mirkin, and the team had much more outlandish plans and over the course of the show’s two seasons, things would get downright ridiculous.
In the pilot episode, Chris is written as a much more lucid and, frankly normal, character than he would become. That was, according to Mirkin, by design. Once Fox saw the pilot and ordered it to season, the writing team could make Chris the borderline psychotic figure they’d always envisioned. As Mirkin told Vulture: “[Fox] just wanted him to process reality, which was never going to happen. We had no intention of that happening.”
Thus, the first season saw Chris’ exploits become increasingly surreal and farcical, to the point that anything, including his own violent death, could and often did happen. Plots involved everything from a clip show where Chris reminisces on the series while falling from a plane and the infamous “Stewey And Me,” which is basically a parody of E.T. that culminates in Chris eating his alien friend.
With such an aggressively subversive and surrealist tone, “Get A Life” could have easily come across as off-putting and inaccessible. Which it kind of did. But there was something endearing about Chris Elliott’s portrayal of Peterson and the show’s attempts at subverting the sitcom format ultimately betrayed an affection for the sitcom tropes of old.