One Word Titles Suck Balls - Jakob Burrows' Blog

One Word Titles Suck Balls

A one word title is when you just grab a word from the dictionary and slam it on your posters, not even having the grace to put 'the' in front. It happens a fair bit in movies but television is where this vile trend truly runs rampant.

See that title up there? It's hella descriptive. It tells you exactly what you're about to read, conveying both style and content. Maybe it's not a great title, but it means something. Imagine if it just said:


Perhaps I'm thinking that the title "One" has all sorts of layers, because I've spent One too many hours thinking about this and I'm the One standing up against this One word title trend. But actually it doesn't tell you anything. A single word cannot build a bridge between my mind and yours.

But still, it would look great at the end of a trailer! It could cover the whole screen in bold letters after a quick action sequence. And yes, if it was the only trailer you ever watched, you'd probably think it was a pretty cool title. But unless you are my friend Anders, who only watches films and shows when I force him to, there's no such cultural vacuum for you to peer out of, and as long as this trend persists we will be surrounded by a slew of banal non-descriptive titles that blend together into a big pile of nothing, each of them negating the impact of the others.

Don't believe me? Here are some TV-shows started in the past five years.

  • Arrow
  • Awkward
  • Banshee
  • Believe
  • Betrayal
  • Bitten
  • Castle
  • Common
  • Crisis
  • Dads
  • Defiance
  • Delirium
  • Dominion
  • Extant
  • Girls
  • Haven
  • Helix
  • Intelligence
  • Justified
  • Looking
  • Luther
  • Mom
  • Motive
  • Perception
  • Power
  • Reckless
  • Rectify
  • Reign
  • Resurrection
  • Revenge
  • Revolution
  • Scandal
  • Silk
  • Sirens
  • Turn
  • Twisted
  • Tyrant
  • Unforgettable
  • Vikings

More than a dozen of these were started this year.

One or two of these titles tell you exactly what the show is about but a vast majority tell us very little. Some would be okay if not for the existence of all the others, but a lot would not. "Looking"? Seriously, HBO? And if Resurrection isn't a gritty reboot of the New Testament then I'm not interested.

Pilfering the dictionary for words that sound good is not a great method for naming your projects. These titles don't stick out. They're not unique. Did the people behind the show 'Crisis' - which was cancelled after eight episodes - really think their show was good enough to steal that word? But even more annoying are those rare cases when the projects do succeed, and proceed to completely hijack the word. Transformers did it. Frozen has damn near done it. Twilight did it. I used to LIKE that word.

So yes. One word titles are elegant, but they also suck balls.

On the other hand FUCK IT - I actually WANT to work with television - so here are some shows.

  • Strangers: A whole town gets amnesia.
  • Follow: Zombie show but you're followed by undead twitter followers because of the singularity.
  • Singular: Sarah Michelle Gellar is a business woman who just can't find a guy ALSO SHE'S A ROBOT AND DOESN'T KNOW IT
  • Knowers: Top students ("know-it-alls") are pitted against each other in a race to Know It All (or die).
  • Wolf: Daniel Radcliffe is a werewolf.
  • Were: Prequel series to wolf. Tagline: "Who were he before he were... wolf?"
  • Sherwood: Steven Moffat reboots Robin Hood in modern day. Sherwood is a night club or something.
  • It: Another reboot, innit?
  • Spoons: Will-they-won't-they comedy in a soup kitchen. "Who gets (to be) the big spoon?"
  • Artifice: I don't know, sexy golems or something.
  • Stripes: Similar to Spoons but in a zoo. "Why won't they just change their stripes and get toegethgrrr?" Has a spin-off called Tricks, set in a craaazy dog kennel.
  • Travellers: Christopher Egan and Anna Paquin travel between worlds. In world A they're married, in world B they're... SPIES?
  • Phone: Honestly I've just started looking at things around me at this point but yeah okay so they're sexy ladies working as operators in the 60's and they listen in on sexy calls and get off on it.
  • Operators: Doctors who are spies. BOOM.
  • Boom: Sexy bomb squad.
  • Sexy: High school drama. Nerdy main girl breaks her nose in a skiing accident and gets... Sexy. But how can she remember her old friends when she's suddenly so... Sexy?
  • Stockholm: Homeland ripoff all about Stockholm's syndrome. Takes place in - wait for it - OSLO??
  • Pen: Batman Prequel but Batman's not in it and it's all about young sexy The Penguin. Yes, I literally looked at my pen and predicted a show that will probably happen.
  • Wrap: Up-and-coming rapper Donald Glover gets wrapped around Mila Kunis' finger cause he didn't wear a wrapper and got her totes preggers. Set in early 90's, surprisingly poignant, wins four Emmys.
  • Predicted: Con artist claims he's able to predict the future but he's so convincing he's recruited by the FBI and partnered with a sceptic who gets to say "saw it coming" when it's revealed that the guy's a fake. But then THAT GUY starts predicting the future FOR REAL. And his name is Ted! Like Predic... TED. GET IT?
  • Breakfasts: The Hobbit prequel because Peter Jackson is the new George Lucas and clearly doesn't give a fuck and neither do his fans.
  • Fans: Big Bang Theory type show celebrating "fandoms" and "internet culture". Totally funded by Indiegogo because people are sheep.
  • Papers: Cold war Berlin. Beautifully made 4x90 min miniseries that no one watches.

Maybe I just hate television, I can't tell anymore. Either way I'll be pretty busy come pitching season.

July 17th, 2014