Fall 2011 Review: Whitney

7 Oct

Whitney Cummings has two television shows on the air, both of them awful, and both of them naturally inviting comparison to one another.  It can often be difficult to compare two things that are both very bad, but I’ll make an attempt but describing them as thus; 2 Broke Girls is more offensive, but Whitney is worse.

What galls me more than anything else is that Whitney is given a spot on the NBC Thursday line up, the home of the most progressive and best comedies on network tv in the last decade.  Whitney, like Outsourced, shares absolutely nothing in common with what works about these other shows (The Office, Community, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation) and I’m honestly not sure how the network could think for a second that it’s a fit.

Before I actually go into the substance of the show, which is terrible, the style itself immediately separates it from these other shows.  First of all, it has a laugh track.  I didn’t spend as much time on this with 2 Broke Girls because, well, as much as a laugh track is awful, every single show on CBS has a laugh track (CSI: Miami even I think) and that’s just the way things operate around there.  But Whitney is put in a context next to shows that have no laugh tracks; in fact I’m fairly certain no other comedy on NBC does.  Frankly, there’s absolutely no excuse for having a laugh track in this day and age.  It’s insulting to the viewer, who clearly can’t figure out when to laugh on his or her own, and it slows down the show, placing strange awkward gaps between lines.  It’s even more noticeable because of the contrast with the shows airing before Whitney.

Second, there’s the multi-camera format, while all the other NBC comedies are single camera.  Unlike with a laugh track, this isn’t bad by nature; there’s no reason a multi-camera comedy has to be bad, but it tends to be by practice – it just doesn’t feel modern, and on top of that it leads to, combined with the pauses due to the laugh track, posing, and staring right at the camera after a joke, which feels painful, especially when the joke is awful.  It feels like a canned comedy from the 1950s or ‘60s.

Wow, that was all on style.  Substance, well, Whitney just isn’t funny at all.  Whitney is supposed to be this woman who doesn’t fit in the box we put woman in or something; she’s crude and having fun and the leader in her relationship.  Honestly, I don’t really care one way or the other who her character is.  It fails the first rule of comedy – being funny (yes, there are exceptions for shows that are not really funny but technically comedies like Entourage, but let’s move past that for now) The laugh lines are corny, stale and predictable and the side characters seem like they were purchased from the bargain bin at the Sitcom Store (it’s like a Home Depot for Sitcom characters).  They include a man-hungry single woman who can’t stand men with emotions, and a sexist single guy.  Whitney herself has no charisma, whatever scraps of enjoyment can be taken from a sea(ocean?) of terrible are from her long-time boyfriend Alex.

Will I watch it again?  Nope.  I don’t know why anyone would ever watch this show ever again if they’ve seen three minutes of it.

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