Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whitney, Season 1 Episode 6 – "Two Broke-Up Guys"

They say that the best way to gauge where your gut instinct stands on an issue when your brain won't let you decide is to flip a coin, but not to see whether it lands heads or tails: When that coin is in the air, for a split second, you'll know. The first minute and a half of Whitney's latest pile performed a similar service for me.

You see, I have a dilemma. I know that Neal is the least insufferable character on this show (thanks to the 30 Rock connection), and I know that the worst character on both the show and television as a whole is Mark the cop. But I can't quite decide whether I loathe Whitney or Alex more. They're both super awful and passive-agressive, but Whitney also has that agonizing dialogue that's obviously just slightly rewritten stand-up. On the other hand, Alex encourages her by laughing at said dialogue, and who's more fool, the fool or the fool who laughs at that first fool's decades-stale observational humor about relationships? He also needs to shave so badly. His face looks so dirty.

But the endless and Whitneyless first ninety seconds of "Two Broke-Up Guys," where Alex and Mark get into an argument about a can and the audience repeatedly explodes into tittering mirth at lines like "We're cooking paella tonight," made me realize that I missed Whitney. Yes, I actually missed one of the worst characters on television. With her gone, forced to watch Alex, my gut told me as surely as if I'd flipped a coin: Whitney is terrible, but Alex is worse. I was actually relieved when she stepped through the door. (I'll also note that this scene shockingly mentions Whitney's photography career, which the show is otherwise happy to totally ignore. Mark the cop may be the worst television character since 24's Dana Walsh, but at least his job comes up in conversation.)

But that brings us to the problem with the meat of the episode, doesn't it? I couldn't begin to care less about Alex or Mark as characters, so of course I'm not going to give first able-bodied fuck if they're having a snit or not. Parks and Recreation's "The Fight" this is most fucking decidedly not. Yes, of course they made up at the end of the episode. None of the events that transpired between their split and their reconciliation were funny in any way, and it certainly didn't achieve the slightest emotional weight of any kind, so what was the point?

But I think special props for comedic ineptitude go to the scene where Whitney escorts an intoxicated Alex home from the grill, with Chris D'Elia giving one of the worst drunk performances I've ever seen in a professional production. His nasal, clipped manner of speaking bears infinitely less in common with a drunk person than someone doing a meanspirited impression of someone with Down's, amplified from terrible to horrifying by Whitney smiling and laughing along like this is the funniest shit. Notice to sitcom creators: You can have your characters laugh at things other characters do if the one making them laugh is really, truly, legitimately funny, like Matthew Perry on Friends. Otherwise, it's the death of comedy. Not that there was any comedy in the scene in the first place, but, you know, a note for future episodes.

Isn't it weird how much time Whitney spends wearing a leather jacket in the comfort and privacy of her own home? Anyway, this show blows chunks, then takes a shit into those chunks, then smears it all together, then is taped in front of a live studio audience! You heard me!

Funniest Moment: Well, I was thinking back to and laughing at certain moments from Community and Parks and Rec during the brief respites of the commercial breaks. That counts, right?

Final Grade: D-

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