Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous

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Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous
Created by
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes12
Executive producer(s)
  • Bo Burnham
  • Dan Lagana
  • Dave Becky
  • Justin Levy
  • Luke Liacos
  • Michelle Klepper
Camera setupSingle
Running time21 minutes
Production company(s)3 Arts Entertainment
DistributorViacom International Media Networks
Original networkMTV
Picture format1080i 16:9 (HDTV)
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1
Original releaseMay 2 –
June 29, 2013 (2013-06-29)
External links

Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous is an American television comedy series created by comedian Bo Burnham and Dan Lagana that aired on MTV from May 2 to June 29, 2013.[1] The sitcom stars Burnham as Zach Stone, a fresh-out-of-high school teenager who opts to pursue a life of fame and stardom instead of attending college. The series follows Zach, who hires a camera crew to film him throughout his daily life as a part of his quest to become an over-night celebrity, even though he possesses no real talent.

On June 26, 2013, it was announced that Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous had been canceled after one season.[2]


Zach Stone, an 18-year-old high school graduate from Boston, opts to pursue his dream to reach the life of fame and stardom instead of attending college. Thanks to his saving income from his grocery store job over the last couple of years, he hires a camera crew from MTV to film him throughout his daily life as a part of his quest to become an over-night celebrity, even though he possesses no real talent. From Zach's attempts to become a celebrity chef or a ring-tone recording artist or purposely going missing, he will try any avenue he can to get noticed and stop at nothing until he reaches fame. He has the entire summer vacation to get noticed and to hang out with his friends before they all leave to go to college.


The series was commissioned in September 2010 by MTV. Variety magazine reported that MTV had ordered a half-hour-long television "put pilot", from Burnham "about a kid fresh out of high school who's pursuing the new American dream of being a celebrity without having any talent".[3][4] The show was inspired by a study that polled graduating high school seniors on their possible career paths, and 40% chose "famous" as opposed to extraordinarily low numbers for more realistic choices, such as "doctor".[5] The pilot was filmed in 2011, while the rest of the season was filmed over the course of 2012. Burnham initially felt the show to be a dark, satirical comedy that slams the title character for having "shallow priorities", but grew to feel the character more a product of the culture surrounding him.[6] The show was primarily inspired by the original British The Office, The Larry Sanders Show and The Comeback.[7]

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Bo Burnham as Zach Stone,[8] the eponymous protagonist; a recently graduated teen who pursues fame and stardom over college. Stone will do anything to get famous, including attempts to become a celebrity chef, a ring-tone recording artist, and purposefully going missing.
  • Kari Coleman as Sydney Stone,[8] Zach's patient mother
  • Tom Wilson as Andrew "Drew" Stone,[8] Zach's exasperated father
  • Cameron Palatas as Andrew Michael "Andy" Stone,[8] Zach's successful younger brother.
  • Caitlin Gerard as Amy Page,[8] Zach's best friend who lives four houses down and love interest.
  • Armen Weitzman as Greg LeBlanc,[8] Zach's shy, Jewish best friend.


  • Rory Scovel as Pat,[8] Zach's attention-seeking boss
  • Robbie Amell as Nick,[8] Amy's friendly boyfriend and Zach's rival
  • Shelley Hennig as Christy Ackerman,[8] the hottest girl in Zach's old high school
  • Jason Rogel as Marcus,[8] member of Zach's camera crew
  • Justin Dray as Phillip,[8] member of Zach's camera crew
  • Arshad Aslam as Hasaad,[8] member of Zach's camera crew


Zach Stone spoofs youth culture, celebrity and the pursuit of fame.[6] Outwardly, the character of Zach Stone projects the image he feels will most make him famous and casts a thin layer over his true feelings.[7] Stone, in reality, is completely insecure and the idea of fame presents a "fix-all" to him.[5]


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.S. viewers
1"Pilot"Jeffrey BlitzDan Lagana & Bo BurnhamMay 2, 2013 (2013-05-02)0.65[9]
In the opener of the series, Zach Stone decides to forgo college to star in his own, self funded reality show. With his friends all leaving for school, he envisions a different path toward fame and a chance to "headline" a funeral is his first big step.
2"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be a Recording Artist"Joe NussbaumIsaac Aptaker & Elizabeth BergerMay 9, 2013 (2013-05-09)0.57[10]
The music business is Zach's next frontier as a front man of the first ringtone band. Embracing his "rebel" persona, he takes to the stage with sidekick Greg and beautiful Christy.
3"Zach Stone Is Gonna Get a Makeover"Joe NussbaumJon Silberman & Josh SilbermanMay 16, 2013 (2013-05-16)0.39[11]
When Christy invites Zach to a weekend pool party, he wants to show off his new image. After getting a full makeover, he's ready for his big reveal but his attention shifts when he witnesses a spark between Amy and Nick.
4"Zach Stone Is Gonna Make a Sex Tape"Joe NussbaumTodd WaldmanMay 23, 2013 (2013-05-23)0.39[12]
When Christy asks Zach out on a date and insists on bringing the camera crew, he excitedly wonders what her intentions are. Since making a sex tape leads to stardom these days, he needs to "brush up" on his "moves" to be ready. He goes to Greg's house in order to prepare (he is practicing sex moves on a blow up doll). Greg then tells Zach that he had sex with a girl from their school the previous summer, and just didn't tell Zach. Zach is shocked to find out about this secret, and storms out. He is angry that Greg actually kept a secret from him. So that night, on the date, things go very smoothly. However, once they get to Christy's house, she starts acting very seductive. She takes Zach into her bedroom, where she starts taking her top off. Zach decides that he can't go through with this. He tells her that he isn't ready for sex. She is shocked by this. She didn't want to make a sex tape, she just wanted to show him her bedroom. As to why she took her top off, she states that she just looks good topless. Zach sighs in relief, and asks her out on a second date tomorrow night; this time, without the cameras. Christy's true intentions come out, and Zach decides to kick her off of his show. He then goes to the video store to apologize to Greg for overreacting before. He forgives, and Zach goes home, only to find that, as he is passing Amy's house, that Amy and Nick are kissing.
5"Zach Stone Is Gonna Get Wild"Jeffrey WalkerJulia BrownellMay 30, 2013 (2013-05-30)0.36[13]
When he's taken off the waitlist at his dream college, Zach has a big decision to make between school and stardom. As he weighs the pros and cons, an invitation to his first college party (Boston College, the one that Greg is attending) gives Zach an idea as to how he may be able to pursue both college and fame at the same time. The idea? To film "Bro's Gone Wild", a "Girls Gone Wild" rip-off, only with horny college men. He goes to the party, but sees that there is no wild, drunk partying. He is annoyed, and decides to leave, but winds up sitting on a stoop outside the house with a bunch of film students, who are intrigued with the fact that he has a film crew following him around, and that they are using such advanced cameras. As he goes home, he starts to contemplate whether or not he really wants to go to college or not. The next day, he finds out about another party at a different college. Zach attends, and so does Amy and Nick. The camera crew are asked to sit outside in the car for the party. However, they end up checking on him after about two hours, only to see that Zach is lonely and miserable at the party. As Zach decides to leave, he gets into the car and says that the party was just like the High School parties he used to go to. As he starts the car off to go, they are attacked by a bunch of drunken college party goers. They steal the cameras, and start throwing them around and such. However, Nick steps in, and sticks up for Zach. Zach thanks him for this. He goes home to find that his father is in the garage drinking a beer. He tells him that he is not going to college. Expecting his dad to get angry, he is instead very understanding, stating that when Zach's mother told him that not going to college was the biggest regret of his life, she was lying. If anything, it was the best thing he ever did. Now, he is the proud owner of a hardware store. Zach shares a heartfelt moment with his father. His dad tells him that he does think that he is going to be famous, which Zach doesn't believe. He then tells him that he is just kidding, and that he really doesn't think that.
6"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be a Famous Chef"Jeffrey WalkerGavin StecklerJune 6, 2013 (2013-06-06)0.33[14]
Zach challenges Nick to a cook-off to try and impress Amy but needs his mom's help for ultimate success. When Nick invites him to cater a party for his parents, Zach realizes that becoming a celebrity chef may be a tall order. As they prepare to cook, his mother ends up doing all of the work, with Zach taking all of the credit. That night, while at the party, Zach ends up losing his cool when Amy can't seem to pick out a favorite dish. The next day, Nick, who enjoyed the food so much, books Zach to cater his mother's book club meeting. Zach wants his mom to help again, but she ends up refusing to do so after she sees his selfishness peak through. Zach goes to the party, but does so disastrous results.
7"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be The Zachelor"Jeffrey WalkerIsaac Aptaker & Elizabeth BergerJune 13, 2013 (2013-06-13)N/A
"America wants competitive love" and Zach plans to deliver on his new reality show "The Zachelor". As girls compete for his affections, he looks to find the perfect jealousy-inducing girl for a double-date with Amy and Nick. In doing this however, he ends up ruining the night of his parent's twenty-fifth anniversary.
8"Zach Stone Is Gonna Go Missing"Todd Strauss-SchulsonRyan WallsJune 20, 2013 (2013-06-20)N/A
With a ransom video and well planned disappearance, Zach plans to go "missing" to garner evening news fame while America watches with bated breath.
9"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Scary"Todd Strauss-SchulsonRyan WallsJune 20, 2013 (2013-06-20)N/A
To win a bet with his brother as to who gets scared first, Zach plans a hoax to film his brother in an ultimate scare video to become the next YouTube sensation.
10"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be an Actor"Todd Strauss-SchulsonBo BurnhamJune 27, 2013 (2013-06-27)N/A
Life feels magical after Zach's kiss with Amy and a chance to be a movie star shines after a student film audition. But emotions threaten his role, a run-in with Nick turns ugly and his relationship with Amy leaves questions.
11"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be a Hero"Stuart McDonaldGavin StecklerJune 29, 2013 (2013-06-29)N/A
After seeing a man on television getting interviewed for saving children from a burning building, Zach decides that he is going to be a hero. However, before leaving to go pursue this crazy venture, he is alerted by his parents that he only has fifteen-hundred US Dollars left in his bank account. He will only be able to afford the cameras for about four more days! However, Zach decides to keep the crew regardless, and he ventures out to try to save someone. He gets Greg to pretend to be drowning in a lake, at which point Zach steps in to save him (Greg ends up saving Zach, however, as the elaborate costume he is wearing during all of this gets snagged on a large rock under the water). After this, Greg leaves, stating that he is done with trying to get him to become famous, and that he doesn't know what's happened to Zach. Zach takes the final cut of the footage to the local news network, where he gives it to a member of the broadcasting team. After witnessing the crew member throw the DVD containing the footage in the trash, along with the inaudible, yet implied insults, he is emotionally hurt, and decides that he's going to get rid of the cameras. That night, he goes over to Greg's house (Greg is not home) and packs his stuff for college for him, and in alphabetical order, too. Greg enters to Zach doing this, and is so touched, he gives him a big hug. The next morning, Zach comes downstairs to his parents and brother, wearing his Grocery Store uniform; he's decided to take a promotion at the grocery store (which he had been offered earlier in the episode. His original response was turning it down). However, as he is filling out the forms for said promotion, there is a knock at the door. Zach opens the door, only to find a camera crew and a news reporter. They want to do a story on Zach! "Zach Stone... Is Gonna Be Famous! Zach Stone... Is Gonna Be Famous! Zach Stone! Zach Stone!"
12"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous (No, Really)"Stuart McDonaldDan Lagana & Bo BurnhamJune 29, 2013 (2013-06-29)N/A
"Good Morning Boston" is preparing to do a story on Zach's journey to fame, which just causes more drama and tension and resentment within his family, as well with his relationship with Amy, who ambiguously told Zach that she wanted to be more than friends with him that morning. Zach winds up pushing Andy over the edge. He leaves after telling Zach that he is embarrassed to be his brother, and that he wishes that he didn't ever have to put up with him. Zach is hurt by this, and tells Andy that he doesn't want him to be in the report (Zach instead gets his overweight, twenty-something year old Asian boom operator to pretend that he is his brother). As the news team start shooting, Zach ends up making both of his parents more and more aggravated. He finally sets his dad off when he ends up almost cutting his own fingers off with his dad's electric saw (the two of them were in the shed, with Zach showing off a birdhouse he brought from a store that he is passing off as something he and his dad made years ago). His dad storms into the house, and tells Zach's mother that she is enabling Zach now, and that she has been for the entire past summer. She denies this at first, but when Zach calls the both of them selfish for holding up the report, she agrees, and as such, they finally decide to stop putting up with him. They take their leave for the time of the report, but ultimately Zach is now kicked out of the house. That night, he ends up sleeping at Greg's house. Greg tells Zach that he is always welcomed to visit him at his dorm when he goes to college, and as the night goes on, Zach has some time to reflect. The next morning, when he goes into the news studio for an interview, he ends up using his time on air to say that, while the footage that they used for the report made the family look ideal and happy, is not accurate; he admits that he's been selfish, and has been destroying his relationship with everyone he's cared about in trying to be famous, and on top of that, he also says that he's in love with Amy! He storms out of the studio abruptly to tell Amy this (who has left for college without saying goodbye... or did she?) Back at his dressing room, Zach is giving a hearty goodbye to his camera crew. Then, however, Amy enters the room. She has just seen everything. The two of them kiss, and Amy says that they are now boyfriend and girlfriend. Zach tells her that he is done with trying to be famous, and that "Zach Stone just needs to be Amy's". They walk out of the studio, holding hands. As they exit into the parking lot, however, they are stormed by a small, yet powerful crowd of fans, who have just seen Zach on television. Everyone (including Zach and Amy) begin chanting "Zach! Zach! Zach!" After this, the crowd members ask him to sign autographs and to take pictures with them. As Zach does this, he starts singing "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous" to himself. The final shot of the show shows a close up on Amy's face as she watches this unfold. The smile she has had since the beginning of the previous scene slowly begins to fade towards a disappointed, saddened expression. She knows that, what with all of this fame and recognition, that Zach is probably going to go back to his old ways within time.

International broadcast[edit]



Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous struggled in the ratings during its run. The series premiered to 650,000 viewers and saw its numbers decrease to half of that midway through its season. The show originally aired at 10:30 p.m. on Thursdays, but was moved to 11 p.m. in June 2013 to expand its dwindling audience.[16] MTV scheduled its eighth and ninth episodes to air back to back, and burned off the following three the next week. MTV officially cancelled the series on June 26, 2013.[16]

Critical response[edit]

Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous has received mixed reviews from television critics. Brian Lowry of Variety wrote, "While the concept is hardly original ... the series still feels fresh and timely," adding, "this single-camera satire zeroes in on a burning, warped desire to be famous that MTV, as much as anyone, has stoked and exemplified. ... Indeed, even MTV appears oddly oblivious to the ironies of this dichotomy."[17] Entertainment Weekly called the pilot a "promising debut", positively reviewing Burnham's portrayal of the titular character: "Because there's an inherent empathy to the character, it's a delight watching him strive and fail to make the mundane ordinariness of his suburban reality sexy."[18] While noting the premise of parodying reality shows covered no new ground, The New York Times did commend the show's attempt to aim "straight for the dark underbelly of all these fantasies. It's one thing to put on a show; it's another to do so to mask huge holes within."[19]

Pilot Viruet of The A.V. Club noted that the character's "off-camera moments", such as his appeasement of girl-next-door Amy in the pilot, were more satisfying than watching "a completely abhorrent character do awful thing after awful thing. ... It's clear that the writers (and Zach) are so knowledgeable of this particular world that the end result is smarter than you'd expect the average reality show send-up to be."[20] Newsday called the show "almost too clever, funny and ironic for MTV", also praising the show's softer moments: "Zach is both commentary and send-up of the ephemera that MTV and the Internet at large celebrate – then instantly forget. ... But there's a core gentleness here, too, and while Zach's frenetic attention span is extremely splintered, he still manages to be relatable."[21]

In contrast, David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that the show "is more noisy than funny", comparing it to Burnham's beginnings posting videos to YouTube from his bedroom: "His bedroom videos were weird, too, but funny-weird, not I-need-an-Excedrin weird."[22] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post gave the series a scathing review, claiming that "this show is so bad, it's beneath even MTV". Describing the series as irritating, he continues, "One thing about MTV's so-called original programming is that it is often a safe refuge for the criminally unoriginal. I would like to point out that we can extradite Burnham back to reality and prosecute him as an adult."[23]


  1. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 29, 2013). "MTV's New Scripted Comedy Series 'Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous' to Premiere Thursday, May 2 - Video". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Bibel, Sara (June 26, 2013). "'Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous' Canceled by MTV". TV by the Numbers.
  3. ^ Levine, Stuart (September 7, 2010). "MTV orders pilot from Bo Burnham". Variety. New York City: Reed Business Information. ISSN 0042-2738. Retrieved September 10, 2010. Rising comedian just finished run at Edinburgh fest
  4. ^ "Proper Bo". Chortle. September 8, 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2010. Burnham lands US sitcom deal
  5. ^ a b Casey Lewis (April 2013). "Bo Burnham on His New MTV Show Zach Stone is Gonna be Famous". Teen Vogue. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Elise Czajkowski (May 1, 2013). "Bo Burnham on His New MTV Show, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, and His YouTube Years". Vulture. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Bradford Evans (May 1, 2013). "Talking to Bo Burnham About His New MTV Show, Working with Judd Apatow, and Playing an Unrelatable Character". Splitsider. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous — Cast and Characters". MTV.
  9. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: NBA Playoffs, "Swamp People" Top Charts". The Futon Critic. May 3, 2013. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: "Swamp People" Pulls Back in Front for History". The Futon Critic. May 10, 2013.
  11. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: TNT, ESPN Top Charts with NBA Playoffs". The Futon Critic. May 17, 2013.
  12. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: "Swamp People" Tops Demos, Viewers for History". The Futon Critic. May 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: "Pawn Stars" Return No Match for NBA Playoffs". The Futon Critic. May 31, 2013.
  14. ^ "Thursday's Cable Ratings: "Pawn Stars," "Burn Notice" Top Charts". The Futon Critic. June 7, 2013.
  15. ^ Knox, David (18 October 2013). "Airdate: Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous". TV Tonight.
  16. ^ a b Lesley Goldberg (June 26, 2013). "MTV Cancels Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous After One Season". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  17. ^ Brian Lowry (April 26, 2013). "TV Review: Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous". Variety. Archived from the original on April 26, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
  18. ^ Lindsey Bahr (May 2, 2013). "Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous review: Rising above the superficial, one-joke premise". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Jon Caramanica (May 1, 2013). "In Vain Pursuit of That 15 Minutes". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  20. ^ Pilot Viruet (May 2, 2013). "Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous: Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  21. ^ Verne Gay (May 1, 2013). "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous review: Bo Burnham's sitcom wins". Newsday. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
  22. ^ David Wiegand (April 29, 2013). "Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous review". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 30, 2013.
  23. ^ Hank Stuever (May 1, 2013). "On MTV, a surprisingly sweet Vinny, and an irritating Zach Stone". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2013.

External links[edit]