Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pilot Inspektor Tim: Whitney

The show: Whitney, Thursdays on NBC

The premise in ten words or less? Whitney has a boyfriend and some friends.

Any good? Whitney is a towering, monumental obelisk of unfunniness; a show that's existence can only be explained by it either being a refugee from Funniness Opposite Land, a land where the unfunny is funny and vice versa (in this land, it's the best show), or perhaps a scientific experiment by NBC to see how much unfunniness can physically be packed into one episode of television. If it's the latter I'd like to congratulate them, because somehow, against all odds and logic, they've managed to produce perhaps the first half hour of TV "comedy" I've seen since Hank that fails to improve on staring at an off television for the same length of time.

Whitney Cummings the comedienne plays Whitney Cummings the photographer, who speaks in a way strangely reminiscent of a comedienne throwing out stand-up observations vaguely reworked into awkward, unnatural dialogue that makes you feel a little bit ill just listening to it (it's okay though, because the five seconds of braying laugh track every other line let you know how funny it actually is). You just won't believe how wacky Whitney is! There's this one scene near the end where she wears a naughty nurse outfit. A naughty nurse! LOL, where do they come up with this stuff! I'm glad that the naughty nurse scene goes on and on and on, or we might not notice how funny it is.

Whitney has a boyfriend, Alex – played by Chris D'Elia like NBC took him aside and threatened to withhold pay unless Alex was the least charismatic, least funny, least distinctive black hole of a sitcom co-lead on any network – and some generic sitcom friends. One of them is so funny because she just says whatever's on her mind, even if it's a little bit crude! At one part she uses the word "balls," as in the slang for testicles! Oh, the uproarity! Another friend is a food critic. We know this because in one scene she's dressing provocatively and Whitney scolds her, "You're a food critic, not a Kardashian!" Oh my god, that is so funny! Do you see how they got exposition and a pop culture reference out of the way in one line? Brilliant! The laugh track thinks so too! A joke that will be studied for decades to come, I'm sure of it.

In all seriousness, there is a moment at the end of the first act where, for a brief second, the show almost stumbles upon comedy, when Whitney mistakenly eats the cake (or cupcakes, for some weird reason) at a wedding reception before the bride and groom. Now, the awkwardness resulting from this could have been funny, except that as soon as Whitney realizes, we don't even see anyone stare or get upset, we just get one quick, unfunny quip and cut immediately to the next scene, thereby skipping the part that might have actually worked comedically. Because, you see, the people making Whitney don't understand what funny is, and couldn't find a joke if it was dangled in front of them on a stick.

Whitney is a perfect storm of shit, from its empty non-premise to its flat performances to its poor, hammy characterization to its awkward, amazingly unfunny dialogue to its complete lack of originality or ambition to its laugh track laughing, laughing, always laughing, mocking everyone with a modicum of taste who might be watching. It's assertively and confidently the worst new scripted television show of 2011, and should make everyone who wanted Outsourced and / or Perfect Couples off NBC's comedy lineup realize the horrible truth in that adage about the grass on the other side.

Will I watch again? The question is less "Will I watch Whitney again?" than "How many gallons of liquid pigshit would have to be forced down my throat before I'd agree to watch Whitney again?"

Premise: C-

Execution: D-

Performances: D+

Potential: D


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