DESPERATE MEASURES Rob Potylo, né Roadsteamer, is bring his Web-based “reality sitcom,” Quiet Desperation, to cable TV.
Few things drive Potylo crazier than "fake-Irish-accent mafia movies." In fact, the Danvers native's disdain for The Departed is second only to his hatred of entertainment executives (he still begrudges the "robotic suits" who fired him from WBCN, where he deejayed as Roadsteamer back in 2007). But for all the corporate whores and clichés that chap his ass, Allston's most bitter hipster has a smile in his beard these days. The erstwhile Roadsteamer still works afternoons at the Magic Beans toy warehouse in Allston; but money is beside the point, ever since his portrayal of fringe life in the Hub graduated to a network, and is already finding more than 20,000 screens per episode (their New Year's Eve show caught a relatively impressive 0.4 rating).
"I'm Andy Dufresne in Shawshank," says Potylo. "I got into the office and got to play my music — now they can throw me in a dark hole for another two years if they want. I don't even care."
Potylo calls Quiet D the "first locally grown reality sitcom anywhere." He might be right; its 25 Webisodes racked up several hundred thousand YouTube views combined and featured cameos from more than 200 Boston drunks, punks, and performers — many of whom just happened to be hanging in Potylo's living room while they were taping. For the 18 half-hour shows that MyTV contracted, Potylo is primarily developing his own semi-fictional character, as well as those of three other Boston jokers: Bigg Nez, whose imaginary rap career is blowing up; Tom Dustin, Potylo's chain-smoking, hooker-drilling lawyer; and Mehran Khaghani, his flamboyant friend and stalker with a penchant for wielding sex toys in public.
Quiet Desperation is one of the most profane displays on television (that doesn't involve cat-hoarding — yet). From the pill popping and weed smoking to Dustin's silent partnership in an abortion clinic, this is hardly TGIF material. To facilitate the unlikely MyTV deal, Potylo relied on Warren Lynch, founder and creative director for the Allston production house Metropolitan Pictures. For Lynch, it was a no-brainer to sign, finance, and team up with Potylo and his motley crew.
"The MyTV executives came to our studio in Allston to watch our pilot and loved it," says Lynch, who has since come on board as a co-producer. The New Hampshire–based network, which mostly airs syndicated sitcoms, recently added new regional shows like My New England Home, and jumped at the chance to attract younger viewers in the 2.5 million households it reaches. "They're kind of conservative, and the CEO is an older guy, but they still laughed their heads off."
"Sometimes I really can't believe it got on the air," adds Potylo. "If Comedy Central were doing this, they'd have taken away my executive-producer credit, put Jeffrey Ross and Judy Tenuta in it, and told me that I'll love it. This way, win or lose, I couldn't be happier with the show — even we're fucking shocked by what we can get away with."