September 23rd, 2011
11:35 AM ET
Whitney Cummings may be Hollywood’s “It” girl of the moment, with two new shows premiering this week that she both co-created and co-produces.
But there’s a good chance that spotlight will flame out after last night’s debut of her self-titled sitcom on NBC.
It’s “Whitney,” the worst new show of 1998!
Cummings plays a character named – wait for it – Whitney, who is in a committed relationship with her long-term boyfriend Alex (Chris D’Elia). The two are deeply in love but deeply opposed to the idea of marriage, which is supposed to allow for wacky hilarity to ensue.
If that last phrase sounds like a bad sitcom from the ‘90s, well, that’s what “Whitney” feels like. The multi-camera set-up, the labored jokes, the obvious “pause for laughter” beats coming from the actors.
In one scene, one of Whitney’s recently-divorced friends gives a diatribe about being single that basically boils down to, “whoa, DATING these days, am I right?”
The producers did the show no favors by airing literally every single punch line in the endless promotions leading up to last night’s premiere. But it also doesn’t help that the jokes nearly all fell flat.
Also not helping: D’Elia, whose line readings fall somewhere between boredom and constant mugging. Cummings herself isn’t terrible as an actress. The most honest moments come when she’s holding back her own laughter or, surprisingly, when she’s expressing genuine emotion rather than spouting off practiced one-liners.
The setup for the premiere episode involved Whitney and Alex attending a wedding with their friends, where someone brings up the idea that relationships need to involve regular intimacy in order to stay fresh.
Despite the fact that the couple is supposedly secure in their love for each other, Whitney suffers an immediate descent into self doubt and attempts to spice up her sex life. Cue the “sexy nurse” outfit you’ve seen in the previews, along with the jokes about her boyfriend actually having to fill out paperwork as part of their role play.
Cummings has made a name for herself through a comedy style that involves quite a bit of raunch. But now that she’s on broadcast television, that sharp edge has to be dulled down to meet network standards, and it leaves the entire situation feeling like a scene that’s played out dozens of times.
Between the bad jokes, wooden acting, predictable setups and feeling that we’ve seen this all before on other, better shows, I don’t think “Whitney” is long for this world.
What did you think about last night’s premiere? Did “Whitney” fall flat for you too, or do you think the show will join NBC’s stable of long-running comedies? Sound off in the comments below!
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