In March 1998, Fox Television gave 'Significant Others' a 6-week tryout in the 'Party of Five' (1994-2000) time slot (Wednesday nights, 9:00pm). Co-creator Amy Lippman told 'Tribune Media Services', "Fox gave us the option of deciding when we wanted to premiere this and we thought mid-season would be the best berth. We wanted this protected as best as possible, so we didn’t want to go up against all the fall shows." However only 3 of the 6 episodes originally went on air, after attracting only 7 share ratings (around 5 million viewers each week; or roughly 4.4% of the 98 million American households with TV sets).
Unlike 'Friends', co-creator Christopher Keyser had said, "This is not a sitcom. You have to believe these people . . . The point of the series is to talk about that time from 25 to 30, 31, when you move from a place in your life when everything's possible, you can be anything you want, you've committed to nothing, through the point where you have to close some doors and walk through others." Amy added, "We were interested in looking at a time in these characters’ lives – in everyone's life, actually – that puts them right on the cusp of making huge decisions that are going to determine their future. It's sort of the last shot to be an irresponsible flake, because the mantle of adulthood is fast approaching."
Christopher told 'TV Data Features Syndicate', "'thirtysomething' (1987-1991) was really a show about people in their mid-30s looking back and saying, 'How did I get here?' And we wanted to do the flip side of that, people saying, 'I'm 25 and in 5 years I will be 30. How do I get there?" Amy believed 'Significant Others' had "universality in its subject matter. People are 25, they are 25 or they have been 25. That suggests the same kinds of issues: 'Who am I going to be? Who am I going to love? How many more times can I screw up before it counts?’ That is incredibly relatable, and everyone has his or her own story about that time in their lives that speaks to the theme of this show. Also, humor helps. This is a much lighter series than 'Party of Five', but ultimately, it is still our goal to move people. We have to work harder to earn that here."
Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser reportedly first met at Harvard University "where they met while enrolled in a playwriting class." 'The Los Angeles Times' continued, "At the time, he was in law school and she was an undergraduate English student. Their working relationship continued in New York City after they both graduated in 1985. Lippman landed jobs writing for the soap operas 'Santa Barbara' and 'Loving'. Keyser wrote unproduced screenplays and made money by parlaying his experience as a champion debater at Harvard into a job writing political speeches for the likes of then Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt, who had entered the race for the 1988 presidency."
It was understood 'Significant Others' wasn't easy to cast. Amy acknowledged, "In fact, we pushed production on this by 3 months. We intended to have all of the first 6 episodes finished by Christmas (1997), but we couldn't get a full cast together, and we thought there was no point in moving forward until we had that. With 'Party of Five', that cast and those faces were the reasons the show stayed on the air during the dark days, so we knew that was important here. We had to find actors who could play both drama and comedy, and it was also important for them to be close to the ages of the characters. You can't have a 34-year-old play irresponsibility and have the audience on his side."
"The spirit of 'Significant Others' is something that we're very close to," Amy told reporter Jon Matsumoto. "I know what it feels like to be just out of college and to feel like there are a lot of possibilities in front of you and what it's like to make the wrong choice. Writing for soaps was nothing I aspired to do. It was good, steady, lucrative work. But I looked around and I saw a lot of career soap opera writers and I knew I didn't want that. I remember feeling like every choice that was in front of me was a big one. Even when Chris said, 'If we're going to make a go at the partnership, we need to move out to L.A.,' I was afraid to go. It wasn't until the Writers Guild strike hit (in 1988) that I had an opportunity to go to L.A. without walking away from work."
Christopher described 'Significant Others' as "an optimistic show that says, 'I've got unlimited possibilites right now, but at some point I'm going to have to make some decisions and enclose all those possibilities." Before its premiere, The 'Seattle Post-Intelligencer' reported, "The Fox network was willing to gamble several million that American viewers are ready to embrace 'Significant Others.'" On reflection, Christopher confessed he preferred the 6-show tryout than the 13-episode order. He reasoned at the time, "Our long-term goal is obviously to get a 2nd-season pickup, get people interested, get them hooked on the show. But to do 7 more would have killed us. This way we're really concentrating on doing a good job on these 6."