It’s easy to look at Bill Lawrence and think, man, that guy’s got it made. The co-creator of Ted Lasso, Lawrence is finishing up the inaugural run of Shrinking, a therapy series starring Harrison Ford and Jason Segel, while pondering and hyping a Scrubs revival. But it wasn’t always so easy. In fact, he got fired from the biggest show in the world once.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lawrence recalls one of the worst days of his early career. “When I got let go from Friends [after season one], and the second season it was the biggest show in the world, I was in the fetal position on a futon in my shitty apartment,” he said. “I just didn’t understand how TV worked at all.”
It didn’t stop there. Lawrence’s first three jobs (Friends, Boy Meets World, and The Nanny) were all massive hits, and he was fired from every last one of them. He blames it on inexperience, and now that Lawrence is the textbook definition of a television showrunner, he understands the game a little better—but only a little better. “There used to be a cliché, which I always thought was so silly, but these older writers would say to the staff writers, ‘Don’t talk for the first few weeks until you understand,’” he said. “Now, looking back, and it’s been something that’s haunted me in my marriage and with my children, I realize I was never that good at reading the room. I’ve gotten better at it.”
Lawrence is so good at it now that when he watches television, he can predict jokes by the set-up. “It’s like my magic trick for my kids,” he says. “They’re like, ‘Oh, well, you’ve read this script,’ and I’ll be like, ‘I definitely didn’t read the new episode of Night Court’ or whatever it is. This is just what I do.” Watching television with Bill Lawrence must be a trip.