New Girl Vet Jake Johnson's New Netflix Show Was Apparently Too Filthy To Be Live-Action

jake johnson stumptown
(Image credit: abc press)

While Jake Johnson isn't necessarily known for being the most prudish and expletive-averse actor out there, he's best known for more all-ages projects such as Jurassic World, Into the Spider-Verse and even New Girl. However, Johnson is set to debut one of his filthiest offerings yet in the form of Netflix's Hoops, an adult-skewing animated comedy that executive producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of Lego Movie and Jump Street fame) felt wouldn't even be possible to pull off as a live-action series.

For a bit of background for potential viewers unfamiliar with the Netflix show, Hoops stars Jake Johnson as Ben Hopkins, the rage-filled coach of a high school basketball team whose lack of talent doesn't stop him from holding onto his big-league dreams. You might not think a show centering partially on high school athletes would deliver that many F-bombs, but Hoops is loaded with them. Speaking at Comic-Con@Home during the comedy show's panel, Johnson revealed the show originated as a pilot presentation that creator Ben Hoffman purposefully wanted to make as foul-mouthed as possible. Here's how they put it:

JOHNSON: This one started a lot of years ago. Ben [Hoffman, creator] came to me with the pilot presentation. And the idea was that we were gonna be really disgusting in the booth, and everyone was gonna pass on it. We just thought it’d be really fun to make something that we really thought was funny without any fear, because it was just a presentation that MTV was putting money behind. They passed on it, and we kind of thought, ‘Of course,’ and loved it and we hung onto it. Then when Netflix came around, we got a second chance and so we were able to handpick all this unbelievable talent around. We really wanted just to pick the funniest people we could find and just make the funniest show we could.HOFFMAN: My note to Jake when he was recording that presentation years ago was, ‘Be so dirty that they won’t pick it up.’ And he nailed it.

That's obviously not the most practical way to try and get a TV project picked up by a network, and I'm pretty sure there aren't many people in Hollywood who intentionally make everything over-explicit when pitching shows and movies. Especially for a channel like MTV where censorship is still an issue, even if it's a lighter one than on basic networks like NBC and ABC. But I guess that's as good a way as any to stand out in the (animated) crowd.

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For those wondering just how "disgusting" Hoops is, the Comic-Con@Home panel's moderator Max Greenfield – Jake Johnson's former New Girl co-star – said that it was one of the raunchiest show's he's seen. (The first four episodes of Season 1 have "fuck" in their titles, if that clarifies anything.) To that point, creator Ben Hoffman told another anecdote about the show's origins, specifically how Phil Lord and Chris Miller first reacted when they read Hoffman's script, which was apparently set up to be live-action.

That was actually how it became animated, which was Phil [Lord] and Chris [Miller] were like, ‘I love the script, but you do this live-action and you’ll never work again,’ which honestly wasn’t gonna happen anyway. But they said, ‘This could actually work animated.’ So I said, with my zero years of animation experience, ‘I’m in.’

The Hoops clip that played during the panel did indeed provide some insight into that sentiment, as it showed viewers just how unbridled Ben's anger can get when he coaches, leaving no one spared from his foul-mouthed scorn. Had it been live-action, viewers would basically just be watching Jake Johnson tell non-alpha teens to go fuck themselves atop a mountain of other politically incorrect insults. That would make for some uncomfortable viewing, regardless of how good Johnson's performance would be.

Ben Hoffman might not have a whole lot of experience with animated projects in his career, but he's one of relatively few people who can say he's got an animated TV show on Netflix. After talking about how much he liked the way Hoops' animation looked as crisp as Bob's Burgers', Hoffman talked about being excited to have created a more adult version of Fox's key Sunday night animated staple.

For me, it’s fun to see a Sunday night network-looking primetime show with this kind of language, which is not something I’ve seen before. So it was a lot of fun to watch. It’s like tuning into The Simpsons, and Homer’s just… It’s like an x-rated Simpsons.

Yes, co-star Ron Funches and others had jokes to make about "x-rated Simpsons" material already existing in the world. But instead of dwelling on that, check out the first teaser below to get a taste of Jake Johnson's language skills in Hoops, which also stars Rob Riggle, Natasha Leggero, Cleo King and A. D. Miles.

While Jake Johnson's ABC drama Stumptown will return for Season 2 at some unknown point in the future, Hoops is set to debut on Netflix on Friday, August 21, at 3:01 a.m. ET. Be sure to check out our 2020 Netflix premiere rundown to see what's on the way soon, and our 2020 Fall calendar will help fill in all the rest of the blanks.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.