Writing Tools

Story Notes

These are notes taken down by the writer's assistant during a discussion with the showrunner, Phil Rosenthal, me, and other staff writers about the story that would become "No Fat." You'll see that many ideas were pitched, but almost none made it into the final script. What's important to realize is how all the material, even the stuff that isn't ultimately used, is part of the process. One idea leads to another and you don't know at first which one will turn out to work for your story.

"No Fat"

Maybe it should be more like Marie wants to change for Frank. Marie doesn't have to do it, but Frank does, so Marie does it for him. Frank has to do it for health reasons. Maybe Debra catches on, and wants Ray to do it too.

Maybe it's Thanksgiving, and they have to be on this strict diet. It starts affecting everybody, rather than just Frank and Marie.

There needs to be something more selfish for Marie to want to do this for Frank. Because their marriage isn't based on consideration.

Maybe Marie has a small heart attack There's a scene with Frank and Marie and the doctor. He tells them that they really can't have that kind of food anymore, or they'll die. There is a moment that Frank is standing there with mixed emotions. Then Frank makes the ultimate sacrifice, and alters his diet for Marie. Then they have Thanksgiving, and it affects everyone. Maybe they go to a different doctor for a second opinion. The doctor tells them that they can eat moderately. Marie reasons that red wine also cleans out the arteries, so she starts drinking red wine.

It should be Marie's problem, and Frank has to go along with it. The food can't be in the house, because Marie would eat it. Frank ids going out of his mind. Maybe Frank brings stuff in, and Marie accuses him of trying to kill her.

Ray is forced to police his dad, and make sure that he doesn't bring food into the house.

It becomes an issue of Frank never being supportive of Marie.

Frank starts resenting Marie, because his life starts changing so drastically.

There must be temptation. Somebody has to come over with a turkey with all the trimmings, while they are trying to have their tofu meal.

Maybe Marie insists that they all eat, and she will have her little salad. They all start to dig in because they're famished. Slowly, one by one, they all stop, because they feel guilty. Except for Frank, who continues to eat.

Ray is trying to teach his dad that he should be supportive of Marie. 'He is preachy about this, until it starts to affect his Thanksgiving dinner.

It might be funny if Marie knows more about cooking healthy than Marie. Marie hates that she has to learn to cook that way from Debra. Debra loves that she is in that position. Everyone in the family hates that Debra is teaching Marie, because Marie is impossible.

In the beginning. Marie has the heart attack, and Frank is at the dangerous level. It is still for insurance reasons.

The lemon chicken is modified to be a broiled breast of chicken, with some lemon squeezed on it.

Maybe the dam breaks when everyone is suffering, and Marie is caught cheating. They want to kill her. She confesses to them that she saw another doctor, and he told her that she could eat in moderation if she cut out stress. She didn't tell them, because she wanted them to continue to eat well, but mostly because she didn't want the family to think she failed. It is her method of control.

Maybe Marie makes the great Thanksgiving dinner, as the ultimate sacrifice. She eats her little salad. and then everyone feels bad. Then she is caught cheating.

Maybe the dinner shows up, and it's a gift from anonymous. It looks like Frank ordered a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It could turn out to be either Robert or Ray.

Maybe it turns into a Thanksgiving murder mystery. Who ordered the turkey, that could have killed Marie. There is mystery about who ordered the turkey.

We have to see a tofu turkey, that Marie originally made.

The real turkey should come in like the turkey in A Christmas Carol.

Maybe Ray uses Debra's credit card to throw everybody off the trail when he ordered the turkey.

Marie comes to the conclusion that she can eat in moderation, if she cuts out stress. Maybe she says that she went back to the doctor, and he told her that she could eat moderately, if she cut out stress.

Marie is caught cheating, when Ray and Debra take home leftovers, and Marie is caught sneaking over there in the middle of the night to eat.

Maybe in the beginning, it is presented to her in the way that she has two choices. She can either alter her diet, or cut out stress. She tries dieting, but she realizes it's too hard, and she reasons that it is causing her too much stress.

She has to change the way she cooks, because she always nibbles when she cooks. Or maybe Frank has to be there when she cooks, which is a pain in the ass for him.

Or, she drives everyone crazy with her martyrdom.

Maybe when the turkey dinner arrives, it bothers her that not only are they eating, but that there is someone else's turkey there.

About the tofu turkey. Debra "You can season it." Ray "Can you season it to taste like turkey?" OR "You can season it, but you can't change the texture from rubber."


Frank has to be really nice to Marie. She is yelling at him, telling him that he can't cause her any stress.