Daily deal giant Groupon is known for its peculiar sense of humor. There was the time the site “bought” April Fool’s Day. The introduction of marketing gimmicks like the creepy virtual discount wheel called “Clicky” can only be attributed to some offbeat sense of what’s amusing. And of course, from the beginning, subscribers have been reading Groupon’s trademark absurdist, careful-not-to-offend descriptions for deals arriving in their in-boxes. The fact that there’s a network sitcom in the works featuring Groupon is apparently no joke, however.
Groupon has been enjoying quite a rollercoaster ride lately. “Enjoying” probably isn’t the right word. After reporting a loss of $42.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2011, the company’s stock price tanked, rapidly dropping 15% in early February, when a share was selling for about $20.
Since then, amid concerns that Groupon was being poorly run and that, in the words of CEO Andrew Mason during a meeting in which he apologized for drinking too much beer, the company needed to grow up, Groupon’s stock has plummeted further. It recently dipped below $10, before surging to over $14 a share earlier this week after announcing better-than-expected sales figures.
Groupon can expect even more drama in the months ahead, when it’ll be featured prominently in a new comedy just picked up by CBS. Entertainment Weekly reports that the network, which once brought viewers the short-lived William Shatner sitcom inspired by a Twitter feed called “$#*! My Dad Says,” has given the green light to a new show called “Friend Me.” Despite the name, it has nothing to do with Facebook—which, one might surmise, wanted no part of the enterprise—but instead is about two best friends who work for Groupon.
In addition to the hamfisted Groupon-Facebook confusion, the show is set in Los Angeles, roughly 2,000 miles away from Groupon’s headquarters in Chicago. Christopher Mintz-Plasse (the geeky guy who played the memorable “McLovin” in “Superbad”) will star.
Earlier, it was reported that Groupon had nothing whatsoever to do with the pilot for “Friend Me,” and it’s unclear how, if at all, the company will be involved going forward.
Based on what we know about “Friend Me,” as well as Hollywood’s recent history taking liberties with real-world tech company stories (see: “The Social Network”), it’s a good bet that the company featured in the new sitcom will be based on Groupon in extremely loose fashion. In fact, it might have next to nothing in common with the company. But the prominent use of “Groupon” in the show should generate some buzz, which CBS and Groupon alike should enjoy. No word yet on when “Friend Me” will air.