Entertainment

'Hey There Delilah' Is Becoming a TV Show Because Western Civilization Is Out of Ideas

the plain white t's
These guys are making a TV show. | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
These guys are making a TV show. | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

In an internet-ruled universe that's an infinite scroll of shit-posting, casual hatred, misguided self-importance, targeted advertising, and your distant family members' poorly reasoned political theories, it can be difficult to muster more than a single note of anger throughout the day. You have to preserve your sanity somehow, right?! Then you hear that the Plain White T's are turning their number-one single, "Hey There Delilah," into a scripted television show, and you realize there are levels of fiery rage that, were Dante alive today, would certainly cause him to reconsider the structure of Hell and maybe add a circle or two. At the very least, the poet surely would have written "listening to 'Hey There Delilah' on repeat" as one of the infernal punishments sinners must endure for all eternity. 

Sadly, the news is true, if you believe The Hollywood Reporter, which I do, because why would they invent such a needlessly cruel story? It almost feels like a troll, a well-placed online trick designed to elicit the vitriol of the masses to prevent them from pouring that energy into effecting a redrawing of the political map or seizing billionaires' assets or nationalizing health insurance companies. According to THR, the band is out there at this very moment, attempting to pitch what they describe as "a contemporary fairy tale that expands the story within the song" (no! no! please, NO!) to various networks and studios. 

If it is a troll, no matter; I'll oblige, since the song (and possibly even show, oh no, I almost buried the memory already!) deserves every amount of hatred it receives. For starters, it oozes the kind of lazy thoughtlessness that has borne so much rotten fruit in America during the decade since it infected the airwaves in 2007 -- the band's name is boring, the song title a tossed-off salutation that certainly doesn't make me interested in who Delilah is or what the fuck she thinks of New York City, as long as she's far, far away from the guy who wrote the song. The repetitive, two-chord acoustic guitar verse immediately induces flashback memories of every bro on every college dorm hall who thought he had a sensitive side, but would instead become an i-banker or sales rep at a creative agency. Breaking out of the box, a THIRD CHORD comes into play during what we'll call the chorus, but which is really just a slightly altered form of the same torture. The lyrics, god, don't even try to break down the tautological nonsense of "ohhhhhhhh do what you do to me." That this passed for a song of the summer in 2007 tells you all you need to know about how out of gas the United States is culturally. 

"Come on, it's not THAT bad," you might be saying to yourself right now, but I can assure you that it is in fact that bad. As Plain White T's frontman Tom Higgenson put it, "I’m so excited to have an opportunity to give a new generation the chance to form their own connection with the song," so we are at a CODE RED, this is not a drill. This is about the future, about children who may otherwise never have known the song suddenly finding themselves exposed to its terrors. Raising further alarm bells, the co-president of Lively McCabe Entertainment, Michael Barra, said, "'Hey There Delilah' is a perfect example of an iconic story song that has introduced characters and a premise to a massive multigenerational audience, and is begging to be expanded into a full-length story for contemporary television audiences." Introducing characters and a premise is the actual bare minimum that most narrative stories have to do, but hey, sounds iconic! 

The fact that people who make television decided to develop this scant four minutes of whining into a scripted series lays bare the cynical hellscape of contemporary entertainment, where only mediocre or below-par ideas reap rewards and experimentation gets no quarter. No longer is an original idea valuable, in an inherent or monetary sense; instead, hungry studios and executives with deep pockets hunt for established intellectual property they can spin out into a profit-generating, mass-produced schlock. Why pay more for a grass-fed, expertly grilled burger when you can make way more money shipping out frozen patties of grade F meat around the country? The people will love it, and if they don't, they'll eat it anyway! 

Even setting aside the current logic of the entertainment market, which encourages this type of betting on proven material, there are so many other good songs out there that someone could turn into a respectable series or movie! Some suggestions, just really off the top of my head: 

"Excitable Boy" by Warren Zevon
"Ya Playin' Yaself" by Jeru tha Damaja
"Untouchable Face" by Ani Difranco
"I Still Live With My Moms" by Thirstin' Howl the 3rd

Or the one that explicitly asks you to, hey, buy the rights: 

Anyway, Hey There Delilah will probably drop on Netflix this time next year, so keep an eye out for it. It'll probably autoplay right after you finish the series based on Dolly Parton's songs.  

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Anthony Schneck is an entertainment editor at Thrillist. Follow him @AnthonySchneck