So last night, Jess and I watched the premier of Whitney on NBC.
I didn’t want to judge this one before I saw it. But now I have seen it, so here’s my one-word synopsis: WOOF.
I almost can’t believe this is a half-hour comedy on NBC. If the peacock has done anything right in the last three seasons, it is half-hour comedies. Community, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock and The Office (in its day), all have excellent things to recommend them. I’d say the first three are in the top five best comedies on television right now (FX’s Louie and It’s Always Sunny round it out). Whitney, on the other hand, seems to be what CBS would try to package alongside Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother in order to compete with NBC’s comedy powerhouse. Instead, the Whitney Cummings-penned 2 Broke Girls is on CBS and Whitney itself is on NBC.
It was pretty hideous. It felt kind of like I was caught in a time warp back to 1994-ish, when every network was trying to replicate the success of Seinfeld by giving standup comics their own TV shows. Or 1996-ish when everybody was trying to replicate the success of Friends with a bunch of ‘attractive people hanging out’ shows. So I felt a little leery.
Still, how could I resist watching this show when it appealed to me via ads like this one:
Women be crazy! Huh? Huh? Ladies? Am I right!? HUH?
If you didn’t know better, you might think this show was good. But I’ve seen Whitney Cummings’ standup, which is all a version of “LADIES! WE ARE SO CRAZY!” So I DO know better.
The characters on Whitney are all kind of lame. We have the jaded blonde single friend, the desperate to show off her perfect new relationship ginger friend, the macho male chauvinist, potential-date-rapist cop-for-no-reason friend (who will likely hook up with the jaded blonde one desperate, drunken evening), whipped new boyfriend (played by the very awesome Maulik Pancholy, who also fills the ‘person of colour’ qualification that this show was narrowly missing) and of course, Whitney herself.
Here, instead of being a comedian, she’s portraying a photographer. Chris D’Elia plays Whitney’s live-in boyfriend, Alex, who sold an Internet company and now he’s well off or something. I don’t know. They don’t want to get married, but they do want to spend their lives together. Hey, that’s cool! I would watch a show about two people secure in their non-married relationship. That’s a very common arrangement nowadays. But I don’t think this is that show. I think this show is the “wacky girl with crazy friends who make her feel neurotic about her relationship and how it’s not traditional” show. Just thought this was info you should have.
In the premier, Whitney and Alex go to a friend’s wedding. Which friend? Nevermind. Incidental. Not germane to the plot. Which is that Whitney’s friends make her feel weird because she and Alex don’t have sex all the time. So when they get home, she’s all “I’m gonna sex you good.” But doesn’t have anything sexy to wear. Sexytimes post-poned until tomorrow. So she gets a sexy nurse’s outfit, wears it and he’s so excited about this he falls and hits his head and lapses into a coma and dies of boredom. Oh no, wait. That last part was me during the show. He does hit his head and has a concussion and goes to the hospital, where the nurses won’t let Whitney in to see him because they aren’t married. That is stupid and, I am pretty sure, would not happen ever.
Speaking of things that don’t happen in real life: Every single one of Whitney’s friends shows up at the hospital. That is just perfectly normal. Also, Whitney’s mom is there for some reason? And she is played by Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek. So. You know. Good for her? I guess? Look, we can’t all be Breaking Bad. As an aside, this also made me wonder what had happened to ol’ Malcolm himself. Until this afternoon. It’s raining today, so cue the Criminal Minds/CSI on Spike/A&E marathon. And cue the Criminal Minds episode where Frankie Muniz is a successful graphic novel author.
You guys? He is just terrible, facewise. Dave Foley was right. The cute as a species do not age well.
Digital Spy has an article quoting a Whitney exec as saying people are “rooting for our demise.” because they’re a multi-camera show. Well, I wouldn’t say I’m “rooting for” your demise. I would say I’m “absolutely waiting for” your demise.
Can you film a half-hour comedy in a multi-camera format and have it be popular and well done? Sure. I think How I Met Your Mother is proof of that. The concept is getting a little stale, and if they don’t show us the mother super early into this season, I’m out for good, no matter how many times Barney sings about his love for suits.
The thing is, the format is not the problem here. It’s the schtick!
This show had an opportunity to be less terrible than it is, but unfortunately, it’s based on Whitney’s comedy! Badum-ching! Her schtick is very 90s, ‘women are like this’ and ‘men are like this’ and never the twain shall meet.
And the ads don’t lie. At its core, this is a show devoted to examining the whiney, shrewy ways of women everywhere and how they are just absolutely batshit insane and hard to understand for dudes, who are totally practical and smart and easygoing.
Ultimately, it pains me to know that Maria Bamford, who so adroitly skewers the ‘LADIES!’ type of comedienne in her act, has no show, while Whitney has two.