When in Rome - Pilot
Posted by Amy Amani
Written by Amy Amani
Sitcom - New Series, 31 pages (Fantasy, Comedy)
Viewed by: 10 Members
Uploaded: Jan 10, 2018
Latest Draft: May 01, 2018
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Half hour sitcom for a YA audience. An imaginative but awkward teenager relies on daydreams and fantasies to cope with the reality of being sent to live in a Catholic girls’ school in Rome.
It’s 1983 and Abby’s life is about to completely change. She is a sophomore starting at a brand new school – an all-girls Catholic boarding school… in Rome! Abby uses her wild imagination to transform all sorts of unfamiliar things: roommates, nuns, dances, mean girls, and private school into entertaining fantasies that she can cope with. “When in Rome” continually breaks the fourth wall and changes tone and genre, entirely at Abby’s whim. And usually with Italian overtones.
It is 1983, Abby is 15 and just starting at a new school: an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Rome! In the 70s and 80s many Western families lived and worked in the Middle East. The teenagers, however, were made to leave and attend school elsewhere. This is the case for Abby and most of the girls at Saint Agnes of Montepulciano International (SAMI).
Abby uses her wild imagination to transform all sorts of alien things: roommates, nuns, dances, mean girls, an unfamiliar foreign city, and private school into entertaining fantasies that she can cope with. “When in Rome” continually breaks the fourth wall and changes tone and genre, entirely at Abby’s whim; and usually with Italian overtones.
This is a half hour comedy series for a YA audience. Similar to animated greats such as “Up,” “Toy Story 3” and anything with Bugs Bunny in it, some of the pop culture references and jokes are constructed on two levels, for the YA audience and their parents. Some of the themes get a bit heavy, but all are presented in a gentle, fantastical way.
The season is loosely laid out in chronological order through the school year, but the episodes are predominantly stand-alone. Each one pits Abby against familiar challenges for any high schooler, as well as those specific to Abby’s unique situation. All of the episodes are genre busting, using fantasy, and pop culture references that the audience’s parents will appreciate and the audience will find absurd (no Smart Phones?!?! Shoulder pads?!?!) Subject matter varies from the light-hearted (cheerleader try outs re-imagined into the gladiator’s arena) to the very serious (a roommate’s attempted overdose made easier to manage by using a fantasy sequence), and everything in between. As often as possible, the fantasy sequences are Italian themed. So, in addition to the gladiator reference above, a taxi ride through Rome becomes a surreal Mario Kart experience, an encounter with local boys haranguing Abby & her friends becomes a Spaghetti Western, a trip to the all-boys school = a visit to Mount Olympus and the Roman Gods. Not forgetting Italian fashion, cars and food!
In the pilot Abby introduces us to the world of SAMI. We are immediately invested in Abby, the beautiful campus, and her quirky roommates, because Abby speaks directly to us, shattering the fourth wall and establishing the rule-busting tone of the entire series.
We are right there with Abby as she meets her roommates for the first time, then the prim house mother, Miss Hills, and the stern headmistress, Sister Michaeline. Abby and her roommates (Bonnie & Teresa) make the age old mistake of sitting at the Mean Girls’ table in the cafeteria. Abby’s fertile imagination transforms the confrontation with the Mean Girls into the restaurant scene from Goodfellas. The Mean Girls are outsmarted by Abby & her roommates . They retaliate by putting a pickled millipede in Bonnie’s bed. Abby & her roommates get even by tricking the queen of the Mean Girls, Natalie, into eating Vegemite (thinking it was Nutella) in front of the entire school! By the end, Abby has learned some new life lessons – including finally figuring out one of her roommate’s names… in a very creative way!
Abby – Our heroine, 15 years-old, a sophomore. She is the creative one in her group of friends, using her wild imagination and status as “almost omniscient narrator” to guide us and herself through the
unknown waters of a new school. Abby tries to find the humor or absurd in everything and everyone. She embraces the challenges placed before her, even if she can’t always rise to them.
Teresa – One of Abby’s roommates. Poor Teresa misses her family and sometimes has a hard time dealing with being so far away from them. She is the bookworm of the group, and has surprising skills, often thanks to the fact that she grew up with three older brothers. Teresa often acts as the angel on Abby’s shoulder.
Bonnie – Abby’s other roommate. Bonnie is the rebel, she also has a good mind for hatching plans – be they for revenge against the mean girls or how to get to the boys’ school without getting caught. Bonnie’s bravado masks a girl with deeply hurt feelings – while Abby & Teresa’s parents sent them to this boarding school because they had to, Bonnie’s sent her here to get her out of the house. Bonnie is the devil to Teresa’s angel.
1. It’s the first week of school and the girls are stunned at how difficult it is compared to the public schools they attended previously. Head swimming with all of the work she’s assigned by quirky new teachers, Abby’s world temporarily turns into the last days of Pompeii. She tries various ways to avoid her course work, resulting in complete panic (cue Mt Vesuvius). Abby finally figures out how to take responsibility and organize herself in a grown-up mature way, which she had never really had to do before.
2. Time for cheerleader try outs! As luck would have it, Natalie and her crew are on the squad and do everything they can to keep Abby and her friends off the squad. A fight “to the death” gladiator style determines the outcome. Only one of our three heroes makes it – the other two need to learn how to deal with rejection and jealousy.
3. Bonnie finally persuades Abby to sneak off campus and make their way across town to the boys’ school (Saint Ivo of Kermartin International – STIKI). Natalie, et al offer to help… by putting Abby & Bonnie on the wrong bus. Now hopelessly lost, and unable to speak Italian, they have to find their way back. Bonnie hatches a plan that involves getting Teresa to leave campus on her own and a harrowing taxi ride (ala Mario Kart) through the streets of suburban Rome. They finally make it to STIKI, which appears to them as Mount Olympus complete with god-like teenaged boys. This fantasy dissipates when the girls realize they’re just regular old boys.
4. To drink or not to drink. In Italy, the drinking age is low and the rules are lax, but not as far as the nuns are concerned. Abby, Teresa and Bonnie go to visit Daniel (and other boys) and are coerced into playing a drinking game by Natalie and her gang. Knowing the risks of getting busted, the girls must figure out a way to save face while not drinking. In the end, Teresa agrees to play against Natalie. The game, Caps, involves throwing a beer cap into your opponent’s cup while they sit on the floor opposite you. The only way for Teresa to win is to not miss a single shot. She “magically” uses geometry to “see” the trajectory of her caps, never missing a shot.