NexTv's Web Series and Short Film Competition: In Search of Tomorrow's Television

Michael Swingler - Midlife

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The Television Series it could Inspire

“Midlife” is a dark satire about Sam Schmidt, a depressed software developer who thought his midlife crisis could only end with a bullet to the head. After inadvertently killing a despicable, white-collar criminal, Sam’s unfulfilled life and American Dream is reborn as he discovers a new talent, to rid a depressed country of the corporate scum that helped put it there in the first place.

Who knew taking lives could save yours?


If you met Sam Schmidt, you might say he has it pretty good, a beautiful wife, teenage son, nice salary and a five-bedroom home in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. Too bad he doesn’t think so. For the past 10 years, this disgruntled software developer has been searching for the one thing that will make him happy and instead has found nothing but financial debt, a mundane job, deteriorating marriage and a son who prefers an iPod to a fishing pole. Then one night while recklessly driving the streets of San Francisco in his immaculate Toyota Prius, he inadvertently runs over and kills a man. Initial feelings of shock and remorse slowly subside when he discovers the dead man was a white-collar criminal, wanted for swindling countless families of their life savings. An odd sense of worth sets in, which has an immediate effect on his surroundings. His wife cannot ignore the feelings of attraction, his son picks up on a cool vibe and even the intolerable, overachieving in-laws feel threatened. These new feelings of pride and power begin to feed a dark obsession, which he is convinced is his true calling. Sam Schmidt is now a software developer, moonlighting as a vigilante with a true purpose, to rid our depressed country of the corporate scum that put us there in the first place. Who knew taking lives could save your own?


The series is generally based in the real world, but still has a humorous tone through the use of sarcasm, eccentric characters and satirical storylines. Sam will often narrate, especially when they involve his ridiculous internalization. Similar to the business card scene in American Psycho, we will see how the little things drive Sam nuts and we will be able to laugh at it. Often we will visually dive into Sam’s wild and bitter imagination through the use of cutaways, similar to the style of Family Guy. Thoughts and re-enactments will flash onto the screen adding character depth, story texture and an occasional misdirection. In the end, we want to create a world that is relatable, but still laughable. The style should let us root for Sam, but not feel guilty for it.


Each episode revolves around a different corporate crime or violation committed against the common man. Ranging from the greedy, capitalistic investors swindling a family’s life savings to CEOs spending their employee’s Christmas bonus on prostitutes, we learn of their crimes through Sam’s frustrated eyes and with him follow a path to those responsible. During the journey we not only learn about the crime, but more importantly the impact it has had on individuals, families and entire groups of the American working class. The victim’s dreams are tainted and feelings of betrayal, frustration and suffering only fuel Sam’s fire to discover the culprit. By the end of the episode, Sam must determine the culprit’s fate. Do their actions justify death? Maybe they are actually innocent and just another product of the system. Maybe they just need a good scare, but in the mind of a disgruntled sociopath, anything can happen.

In addition to the episodic theme, overall storylines will carry throughout the series, most of which involve Sam’s personal journey through a dissatisfying life. Although he may have found an exciting, new purpose, he is forever suffering in a midlife crisis. His search for happiness and validation consistently fall short and the suggested failures in his career, as a husband and father contribute to his ever-growing frustration. His situation is exacerbated by the constant barrage of obstacles coming from his high-octane boss, over-achieving sister-in-law and Grandpa who is a full-blown WWII hero. There is an endless supply of variables in Sam’s life to create a wonderful, ongoing story.

Sam vents his frustrations on those he feels this country could do without, but these acts serve as a temporary relief to his misery, and in some cases add to it. Sam’s not very good at dealing with life or even ending one for that matter. It will be awhile for Sam to get the hang of being a killer. Sometimes he will get lucky on the first try and others, he will be the one frightfully running from a botched attempt. Either way, watching Sam stumble through the ups and downs of being a novice killer will be entertaining and hilarious.


Anyone who has felt wronged by or plain frustrated with Corporate America will enjoy the show. Our anti-hero Sam is the modern day Robin Hood, fighting for the common man. He is a beacon for those feeling the impact of the recession and who would love to give the people responsible a piece of their mind. Overwhelming debt, foreclosures, health insurance, Bernie Madoff, GM, Enron and an endless supply of corporate scandals have been brought out in the open and the American Public is not happy. This show portrays characters and situations people can relate to. It is an outlet that allows our audience to vent their frustrations, while laughing at it.

There are several benchmarks that show demand for this type of content. The success of series such as “The Sopranos” and “Dexter” have proven anti-heroes are not only interesting, but also likable. It is clear people are interested in the lives of eccentric people, even if they are serial killers, but audiences are also attracted to controversy. Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” has brought in millions of dollars by putting corporate America in the spotlight. People not only want to point their finger at someone, they want to see them squirm.

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