In 2004, Andy Reaser, BA English ’97, saw his name on television for the first time. It was in the credits of an episode of Charmed called “Spin City,” an incredible moment that he describes with a bit of wryness: “My family watched on the East Coast. They got to see it before I did.”
Reaser entered George Mason University in 1993 and studied theater, but after “feeling utterly intimidated” by the talent of the other acting students and taking a course in playwriting, he decided to major in English, studying writing and taking courses within the then-fledgling Film and Media Studies program. After graduating, he earned a master’s degree from Hollins University. He then moved to Los Angeles with his fiancée and worked as an assistant on ABC Family’s Charmed.
Since 2006, Reaser has worked for ABC Family, writing for or producing The Middleman, Huge, The Nine Lives of Chloe King, GCB, and the award-winning Pretty Little Liars.
“ABC Family has been remarkably loyal to me,” Reaser says. And it seems to offer a bit of job security; ABC Family has become a dominant force in programming, particularly for teenage and young women.
Reaser is currently a supervising producer on Twisted, one of the network’s newest hit shows. He is in charge of writing episodes and coming up with ideas and plot arcs for each season with the showrunner and the rest of the writing team. After the writing stages, including multiple revisions, filming, and more editing, episodes are shipped off to the network, sometimes in as little as a month from pitch to completion. As a supervising producer, Reaser helps oversee multiple episodes, including ones that he did not write or pitch, which means he has to be intimately familiar with all aspects of the show. It’s a job for which Mason prepared him well.
“I remember thinking how strange it was that Professor David Kaufmann never made us turn in long papers,” Reaser says. But now he gets that he was being trained in succinctness. “Well, here I am in TV land and sure enough, every episode starts with a one- to two-page document sent to the network that describes the entire story,” he says.
Along with a realistic approach on how to write, Reaser says Mason was influential in exposing him to new ideas. He says that Cynthia Fuchs, current director of Film and Media Studies, and the late English professor Peter Brunette were influential in his time at Mason for their tough expectations and breadth of knowledge about more than just film.
Sometimes, life in television has been tough. Reaser worked on The Middleman, a 2008 show that was canceled after just 12 episodes. He says that if he could work on any show or bring one back, this one is his definite pick. “We had so much fun on that show, and we died way too soon,” he says. “It was creative and utterly insane.”
Reaser wants Mason to be more involved out West. “A handful of colleges dominate the networking system out here, and Mason isn’t one of them. But I would like to see that change.” He knows Mason is about as far away as possible, but he knows that Mason students have what it takes to make it in the small screen business.
After all, he’s one of them.