Jonathan Abrahams on 'The Arrangement,' Hooking Viewers & Scripted TV
If you love a good TV show, chances are you know the name Jonathan Abrahams. That’s because the Emmy award-winning producer is behind popular shows like Mad Men, Greek, Haven and one of E!’s very first scripted series: The Arrangement.
As one of the top new shows of 2017 with women 18-34, The Arrangement captured viewers’ attention with its scandalous, glamorous and mysterious plot about two Hollywood actors who enter into a contract marriage…and all the twists and turns that come along with it.
Keep reading for an exclusive interview with Abrahams about why the show has been successful, what viewers can expect this season and how to capture an audience.
Season two of The Arrangement premieres March 11 on E! at 9/8c.
You’ve worked on so many great shows. What is unique about The Arrangement and what have you enjoyed most while working on it?
JA: Every show has it’s own unique quality — it’s a sum of not just the premise and the characters, but the voices in the writers’ room and the talented cast and crew. So one of the best parts of creating and running The Arrangement has been collaborating with everyone to find that uniqueness, which is a mix of wish-fulfillment and deeper explorations of character. It’s a lush, moody, romantic show that uses really cool visuals and music to take the audience inside the very complex relationship at the core of it all.
Season one of The Arrangement was a ratings success for E!. Why do you think it resonated with viewers?
JA: I think it’s a combination of a few things, in no particular order. One is definitely the intriguing premise of a contracted relationship, which thanks to the tabloids had been lurking around in the collective subconscious for years. I also think the viewing public was ready for a show that put a romantic relationship front and center, and explored all the little moments and big challenges that go along with it. I was certainly ready to write it. And we have a great cast! Josh Henderson, Christine Evangelista, Michael Vartan, Lexa Doig, Carra Patterson — who doesn’t want to watch those guys?
The Arrangement is the second scripted show to air on E!. Why is the network the perfect home for it?
JA: The show goes behind the glitz, glamour, and scandals to depict the personal lives of some of Hollywood’s most successful people. When it comes to covering pop culture on television, you don’t really get any better than E!, so the fit was obvious from the beginning. And at the same time, they’ve been incredibly supportive of the creative directions we’ve wanted to take. Nobody says, “This is what an E! show is supposed to be.” It’s always, “What do you want to do with these characters next?” And that has worked out very well.
Viewers are confronted with more choice than ever when it comes to TV shows. How do you get them hooked? What are they looking for in a scripted show?
JA: Wow. Considering how many different shows there are on TV right now, there are obviously many, many different theories. But all the algorithms aside, I’ve always felt that if you can make a show that touches people emotionally it will draw them in. That’s when it becomes an experience for the viewer instead of just another pair of heads talking on a screen. So how do you do that? Great stories, real moments, and actors/characters you want more of. Smart writing that makes the audience work a bit but not so much that the material feels elusive. It’s a delicate balance, and I think the best shows do a great job of striking it.
What can fans expect from season two of The Arrangement?
JA: Glamour, romance, and a lot of dark, mysterious stuff lurking underneath it all. Megan is committed to “burning it all down” when the season begins — and that vow will lead her to some staggering discoveries about herself and the people in the world around her. In some way, every character in season two is on a journey looking for the truth. And they should all beware of what they may find...
Describe season two of The Arrangement in one word.
JA: Bingeworthy. That’s a word, right?
The Arrangement New Season First Look