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There's Witty and There's Whitney
on October 24, 2011
Oh, NBC. We'll spare you the interrogation (that one could last for weeks). Instead, we'll let Whitney Cummings be your scapegoat, since she was bold enough to plaster her name and face all over your new series, Whitney. At best, a cross between Fran Drescher and Audrey Hepburn, Cummings isn't without charm. Her raunchy antics elicit the occasional laugh in the show's pilot episode. Known for her recurring appearances on E!'s Chelsea Lately, she is the least likely choice of Handler's panel to helm her own series. This is especially so given a low concept like the one Whitney offers.
It takes a whole lot of cool to rest solely on a personality for material. Unfortunately for Whitney, the cool points are obliterated by the laugh track that makes the show feel stale and dated. The episode begins with the disclaimer, "Whitney is taped in front of a live studio audience," which feels like a desperate apology for the awkward format. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, the live audience might be present to poke fun at the traditional sitcom, or to capture the magic of Whitney Cummings's stand-up skills. The intent is far from clear or successful, and we are left wondering if we are laughing with or at Whitney.
Whitney is flanked by a horde of stereotypical female friends that don't help her cause. However, the men in the ensemble redeem the show--counterintuitive, given the women's empowerment potential of a female-driven program. Maulik Pancholy (Weeds, 30 Rock) portrays a straight guy for a change, and he breathes fresh life into the show. As does the leading man, Chris D'Elia, who plays Whitney's quirky-cool boyfriend, Alex. D'Elia steals every scene, exercising a quiet and unconventional magnetism. We vote the show be renamed Alex; "it all begins when Alex ditches his insufferable girlfriend, Whitney..." Now, there's a hit show, NBC. Maybe Whitney will get better with age, but until she does, we're tuning her out.
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