Series DVD cover
|Created by||Robert Wuhl|
|Opening theme||I Can't Help Myself by Four Tops (season 1)|
I Only Want To Be With You by Dusty Springfield (seasons 2-7)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||80 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production companies||Tollin/Robbins Productions (1996-98)|
|Original release||August 10, 1996 –|
September 8, 2002
Arliss (rendered in its logo as Arli$$) is an American sitcom about a sports agent. The series premiered on HBO in 1996 and ended in 2002. All episodes are available for streaming on HBO Max and HBO Demand .
Main article: List of Arliss episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||11||August 10, 1996||October 16, 1996|
|2||10||June 17, 1997||August 19, 1997|
|3||13||June 7, 1998||August 30, 1998|
|4||12||June 6, 1999||August 22, 1999|
|5||13||June 4, 2000||September 3, 2000|
|6||10||June 10, 2001||August 12, 2001|
|7||11||June 16, 2002||September 8, 2002|
In July 1999, Robert Wuhl appeared, in character as Arliss, on WCW Monday Nitro as a guest announcer, alongside Scott Hudson and Bobby Heenan. He said that his HBO series has featured WCW wrestlers as guest stars but the Big Three networks were "scared" of doing the same. Arliss said he was scouting Dennis Rodman, who was doing his third stint with the company. Wuhl's appearance was a cross-promotion for HBO, as both it and WCW were owned by Time Warner. In the Arliss episode entitled "To Thy Own Self Be True", WCW creative head Eric Bischoff guest starred along with wrestlers Lex Luger, Randy Savage and Gorgeous George.
In The Simpsons season 13 episode "Half-Decent Proposal", Marge, Patty and Selma are watching Nookie in New York when an announcer states, "Coming up next on BHO [sic], it's Arliss!" Patty and Selma scream and reach for the remote control.
During the October 12, 2002 episode of Saturday Night Live, guest host Sarah Michelle Gellar delivered the following monologue in a fake television commercial sketch:
You know the feeling. Someone's about to tell a joke, and you panic. What if you start laughing? Lots of us experience slight loss of bladder control. An embarrassing accident can happen any time. Sometimes, just when laughing. That's why I watch Arliss on HBO Comedy. It's nice to know that, every weekday at midnight, I can sit down with Robert Wuhl and the gang at Arliss Michaels Sports Management, and, a half-hour later, my drawers will be as dry as a bone. And now I know I'll be able to get 100% bladder control whenever I'm feeling insecure. Because all seven seasons of Arliss are now available on DVD. That's over forty hours of keep-your-pants-dry entertainment! So, don't let slight loss of bladder control cramp your style. Watch Arliss, and take back your life. Ask your doctor if Arliss is right for you. Side effects may include nausea, depression, and slight sexual dysfunction.
In the 30 Rock seventh season premiere, "The Beginning of the End", Kenneth says, in response to Tracy Jordan's marriage having lasted for over 20 years, "That's half as long as it felt Arliss was on TV!"
Former UCB New York stage show The George Lucas Talk Show, organised a 7 week-long Watchathon of the existing Arliss episodes during the Covid pandemic in 2020. The hosts watched all 7 seasons of Arliss and interviewed many of the shows writers, producers & cast including Robert Wuhl. The shows were well received reaching a 9.3/10 rating on film and television review and information website IMBD. The livestreams raised over $20,000 for the New York City FoodBank.
The show, which ran for seven seasons, has been referred to as an example of how premium cable networks take a different approach to managing their programming, because viewers specifically pay for the network. Arliss was cited by a number of HBO subscribers as the sole reason that they paid for the network, and so its relatively small fan base was able to keep the show on the air for a lengthy run. The show frequently used obscure sports references, further limiting its appeal to a niche audience of sports fans. Entertainment Weekly repeatedly referred to it as one of the worst shows on television, and sportswriter Bill Simmons (who would eventually work for HBO itself under his digital banner The Ringer) used Arliss as an example of what he saw as a lack of quality fictional shows about sports.