I was eager to view Whitney on NBC for the first time. But now that I have, within me there is no anticipation for next weeks episode. Why? The show …doesn’t work. It isn’t funny. It’s not something I want to take time out of my life to watch when there are reruns of Doctor Who I could see. I’d almost rather take a bath, and use one of those weird mud masks that I never bother with, than watch another Whitney episode.
As a fan of Whitney Cummings‘ stand up (and even her Twitter account – she’s a witty one) it surprised me when her show 2 Broke Girls aired on CBS and wasn’t funny. I mean, it had Kat Dennings! But it just didn’t work. And then Whitney aired, and it didn’t work. Uh oh.
Executive Producer of Whitney, Betsey Thomas, talked to TV Guide about how fans simply don’t embrace multi-camera TV shows. “I think people are closed off to the notion of multi-cam to a huge degree. … think there are a lot of people that enjoy smart comedy that feel that multi-cam is an old-fashioned, lesser form; it’s for broader, cheaper humor. I think it’s developed a reputation that isn’t really fair. So, I think we’re hoping that people will just be open-minded to our show and embrace what we’re doing regardless of its format.”
Uh. Unless you’re a truly authentic TV nerd like me, you probably don’t care about whether a show is single camera or multi-camera. I’d wager a good guess that you only watch what you think is funny, regardless of its format. And the truth I found about Whitney was that, no matter what format you’d give it to me in, the show was not funny. It’s kinda like how I won’t eat meatloaf, not even if you put it on wedgewood china plates.
Thomas also kind of dissed (seriously) the Thursday night comedies on NBC. “There’s a comedy snobbery around the Thursday night lineup folks that I find incredibly irritating,” she said. “It’s like somehow it became cool to stop trying to be funny. I think the single-cam, like smirking at the camera, mockumentary thing, is one way to do comedy, but I don’t think it’s the only way.”
Single-camera isn’t the only way to do comedy. Although if you read Tina Fey‘s book (Bossypants, are you kidding me, you don’t know the name of this amazing book?) you’d see that even she had thoughts about these styles and acquiesced to single-cam for 30 Rock.
The problem Betsey Thomas has is that the single-cam shows on NBC like Parks and Recreation and The Office are genuinley funny more often than not. And they’re not funny just because of their format. The scripts are solid, and that’s what makes the show work.
Whitney had forced jokes, an awkward laugh track (and if it was truly the live studio audience, they probably laughed so often because of the signs that menacingly flash “LAUGH”), and plenty of cringe-worthy moments. To someone in the 90’s, the show would have seemed edgy. But we’re past Sex and the City now.
The show seemed like a train that was getting jolted and shoved down the track with a 2-year-old manning the controls. And 2 Broke Girls felt the same way. Whitney Cummings? You’re beautiful and you’re funny and you’re probably pretty strong and can lift heavy boxes… but your comedy might not be right for TV shows.
P.S. I am actually rooting for you, Whitney. But I’m not sure who you have around you that let you air these pilots on TV and said “oh, they’re totally hilarious!” Get. more. honest. friends, girlfriend.
Whitney Review Snapshot via Twitter:
@kevincliff – Call me a dork, but I was really wanting to watch “Whitney” on NBC, but couldn’t do it. Laugh track? Seriously? It is 2011. Right? #whitney
@TaraWhitney – Lose the forced studio laughter and I might be able to stand watching #Whitney. Seriously bad. So over the top. After every line!
@TVWithoutPity Don’t say we didn’t warn you: We rank the 10 worst new shows of the fall. Yes, #Whitney’s so bad, it gets two slots.
@daug21 could there be anything less funny than the pilot episode to #Whitney?
@krischenXL Also, this “Whitney” program makes “2 Broke Girls” look more promising.