Isaac AptekerIsaac Aptaker

“I Want You Back,” the romantic-comedy created by longtime writing partners Isaac Aptaker, who grew up in Arlington, and Elizabeth Berger, is out this week on Amazon Prime. The pair have gone from filming low-budget shows in their East Village apartment to a powerhouse duo with such projects as “This Is Us,” “Love, Victor” and “How I Met Your Father.”

Aptaker told The Boston Globe that he “was obsessed with TV” as a child. Wanting to be a screenwriter, he wrote an imaginary episode of “Boy Meets World.” That persuaded his mother not to cut off his TV time.

After graduating from Arlington High School, Aptaker interned for WGBH’s “Survivor’s Guide to High School” before leaving for New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to study screenwriting, where he met Berger. Her father had been the head writer for "Sesame Street."

Toward the end of their time at N.Y.U., in 2008, the pair wrote their first TV show, “The Walk Up,” and received a $10,000 grant from the university to film it.

Survivor's guide to L.A.

Aptaker told The Globe: “We didn’t murder each other through that process," so they moved to Los Angeles and "lived in the same crappy apartment complex, to try having a go of it professionally.”

Aptaker worked as an assistant to film producer Robert Cort, and Berger wrote celebrity gossip, but they never stopped collaborating.

Working day jobs and writing at night, Aptaker and Berger shaped the script for “Lauren Pemberton Is No Longer in a Relationship.” That got them on the Tracking Board’s 2010 Hit List, the industry news outlet, with such scripts as “Now You See Me” and “Apollo 18.”

From there, the pair joined the short-lived 2011 NBC sitcom “Friends with Benefits.” They went on to the 2012-14 sci-fi comedy “The Neighbors” and the 2015-16 sitcom, “Grandfathered,” before their longest-running gig to date -- co-running NBC’s award-winning drama “This Is Us,” with producer and screenwriter Dan Fogelman.

Teen-drama inspiration

For their latest project, “I Want You Back,” Aptaker and Berger were inspired by 1999 teen drama “Cruel Intentions.”

“Everyone in that movie is so sexy and so cool and whenever there’s a scheme they seem to know exactly what they’re doing,” Berger told The GLobe, “and [we thought] what if there was a movie where the people were scheming but they were not like that? They were more like people that generally have no idea what they’re doing but are trying to fake it as if they do, and that made us laugh.”

“I Want You Back” follows the story of two newly dumped singles, Emma (Milton native Jenny Slate) and Peter (Charlie Day, who grew up in Rhode Island), as they hatch a sneaky plan to win back their exes (Scott Eastwood and Gina Rodriguez). The film — directed by Jason Orley and produced through Aptaker and Berger’s The Walk-Up Company — was originally set in Somerville and Cambridge, but for production and financial reasons, the film eventually settled on Atlanta.

“There was a Tufts connection, there was a Red Sox game, they go out to a big nightclub [in] Downtown Crossing,” Aptaker said. “It was a very Boston movie that became a very Atlanta movie.”

Still, Aptaker added that he’d “love to” work on a Massachusetts-based project. Maybe'll he'll find a story to tell from Arlington.

 This news feature, a rewrite of a report, was published Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.