New TV Show Review: Whitney on NBC

By Fred Topel I don’t know a whole lot about Whitney Cummings’ standup. I’ve seen her on a roast and I imagine she’s edgy and vulgar. It doesn’t really matter because I don’t get a sense of any persona from Whitney, the generic sitcom based around Cummings.

The Whitney of Whitney is both a sarcastic klutz and a loving girlfriend, just in case she wasn’t likeable enough. She and Alex haven’t gotten married yet even though they’ve been dating three years, because all sitcoms now are about crazy modern relationships where people take time to get to know each other and have careers. Although Whitney is referred to as a “photographer girl,” we don’t see her doing her job, at least not in the pilot.

In the pilot, Whitney and Alex go to a wedding where she embarrasses herself and learns to worry that they’re not having enough sex. Then she tries to seduce Alex but takes role playing too literally and Alex randomly gets hurt. It’s really irrelevant anyway because the show seems insistent on lame set-up/punchline jokes. A laugh track would make it ironic, but they’ve got an actual audience following the instructions to laugh on cue.

Whitney wants to wear a hoodie to the wedding and Alex suggests she might as well just wear overalls. Because a hoodie is not fancy, but then overalls would be even less appropriate. Whitney concedes but it’s also important to her that she gets credit for winning this fight, because there’s such a battle of the sexes going on. Also, men who hold purses are whipped, couples in their first year are euphoric, bitter divorcees get drunk, and Whitney’s mom needs 7 parrots and 7 therapists so 14 pets or people are telling her she’s great.

Meet the supporting characters. Lilly is so oversexed in her budding relationship with Neil, she poses for provocative photos and admits to doing kegels in public. Roxeanne brings her own alcohol and drinks out of the bottle, because she doesn’t care anymore. Mark is the horndog cop who considers any reference to wood sexual. He hasn’t evolved to “That’s what she said” yet.

The dialogue is really lazy. One character does something embarrassing and the other points it out. Only instead of “Too much information” Whitney may say, “I did not need to be CC’ed on that.” That’s an e-mail joke. After Whitney’s final wedding faux pas, Alex says “You’re on fire tonight.” He should’ve just said “Oh no you dihn’t.” D’Ehlia has the delivery for the generic sitcom banter, it’s just not funny.

At least the show shows how hot Cummings is. The opening scene has her and Alex getting ready in the bathroom. She’s in her undies. Later she wears a slutty nurse outfit. Taking the nurse fantasy to literal extremes may be witty, but I feel like I’ve seen it before. If Cummings is as funny as others say, she must know something’s wrong. This feels like network meddling.

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One Comment

  • September 6, 2011 | Permalink |

    “Only instead of “Too much information” Whitney may say, “I did not need to be CC’ed on that.”” Haha, wow! That’s my impression from the promo. The ‘you’re on fire!’ line particularly bothered me in the exact way you describe. I don’t understand why there is suddenly a glut of female-geared sitcoms that look utterly dreadful. Is this an attempt by the networks to ride the success of Bridesmaids, but getting it terribly wrong?

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