Enjoying a run of success with their two most recent comedies, Girls from writer-director wunderkind Lena Dunham and Veep, the Washington, D.C. political satire starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, HBO is looking to add another source of the funnies to the mix by ordering the new series Family Tree from acclaimed writer and director Christopher Guest.
Family Tree stars Bridesmaids and The IT Crowd star Chris O'Dowd as Tom Chadwick, a man in his early thirties searching for a sense of identity and belonging after hitting a bit of a rough patch - one that leaves him not only jobless, but single as well. Picking up the pieces, Tom begins a journey to uncover his family history after a great aunt he never knew bequeaths him a box of belongings, which spur a need for discovery. As one would expect, Tom's journey introduces him to a whole host of interesting characters, all of whom will likely have that particular Guest-ian sort of personality defect that makes his documentary-style comedy simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable to watch.
Guest will be directing and co-writing the series alongside his frequent collaborator Jim Piddock – though chances are each episode will also heavily incorporate ad-libbed dialogue, similar to Guest's three mockumentary films For Your Consideration, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind. As they did in those films, Guest and Piddock will also appear in Family Tree in as-yet unspecified roles. Although, there has been no word on whether or not the show will welcome Guest regulars like Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara or his This Is Spinal Tap co-stars, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, but an appearance by any of them certainly would not come as a surprise.
For O'Dowd, Family Tree is another step in connecting the Irish funnyman to a wider American audience. He was, of course seen opposite Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids, and then again when the majority of that cast appeared in Jennifer Westfeldt's Friends With Kids. O'Dowd also had a small, but surprising guest role on the aforementioned Girls, and will be seen alongside Judd Apatow's regulars in This is 40, which hits theaters in December.
This is a big win for Guest, who managed to skip the pilot process altogether after HBO was reportedly wowed by the strength of the script alone. Therefore, Family Tree will go straight-to-series, with what is believed will be an 8-episode first season that will also air on BBC 2 in the UK (an arrangement similar to what was worked out with Ricky Gervais' Extras and Life's Too Short).
At any rate, HBO seems to be attracted to British humor as of late. The pay-cabler also has lined up a pilot from Gervais' writing partner Stephen Merchant titled Hello Ladies, and more recently it was announced an adaptation of the British medical comedy Getting On was also under way.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on more news regarding Family Tree as it is made available.