Usually, the dawn of a new television season delivers predictable wares… a few cop shows here, a few workplace comedies there. But we must have been extra good this year, because not one, but two, American television networks were smart enough to snag a comedic talent of a quality that hasn’t been approached since the death of Richard Pryor. Don’t want to wait more than three days without a fresh dose of Whitney Cummings? Don’t worry… CBS and NBC have got you covered.
Who is Whitney Cummings, you ask? She’s a comedian who was once somewhat funny for a couple of minutes on a Comedy Central roast. She’s been featured on the comedy classics Punk’d and Chelsea Lately. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania, so her comedy must be high-brow, much like that of Dartmouth’s Aisha Tyler (such as naming her comedy album Money Shot… oh, snap, which meaning did she mean?)
It’s amazing that it took so long for such a distinguished resume to get her noticed, but when it rains, it pours. First, she co-created CBS’ 2 Broke Girls with Michael Patrick King, on which she also serves as the executive producer. Not wanting to be outgunned comedy-wise, NBC developed Whitney, on which she serves the same jobs, plus she stars! (On 2 Broke Girls, Kat Dennings is the Whitneyganger.)
Obviously, failing to take advantage of the opportunity to track a brilliant comedienne’s voice through two different vehicles would be a sin. Obviously, Ms. Cummings was so sure that both shows would be brilliant that she couldn’t choose between them (it couldn’t be that she or her management realized that she was going to have a short money-making window and better grab every paycheck she could). Obviously, being the slackers that we are, we missed the first week.
So here’s your double-double dose.
2 Broke Girls – Pilot – 19.37 million viewers
2 Broke Girls – And the Break-Up Scene – 11.75 million viewers
You know that CBS believes in 2 Broke Girls, because it’s stashed between the wheezing How I Met Your Mother and the Ashton-era Two and a Half Men.
It’s rare to see such cutting-edge social analysis on a sitcom. Kat Dennings plays hard-working diner waitress named Max… chunky working-class-ness hasn’t been this funny since the heyday of Roseanne. The diner she works at somehow has been teleported from the Brooklyn of 2002. It’s run by an Asian named Han who changes his name to Bryce to be more American… it’s funny because it’s true. It’s staffed by a Russian cook who would develop a personality, except he’s too busy using pickup lines that would embarrass Larry Dallas. Garrett Morris has been resurrected to play the sassy, politically incorrect old guy, because, hey, it worked for Chevy Chase.
That’s too much hilarity to fit into 22 minutes, I bet you’re thinking. But just wait! Blonde Caroline comes into the diner asking for a job. Boy, she’s sure looks familiar. But of course! She’s the socialite daughter of a Bernie-Madoff-type, who lost the family fortune while swindling others. He obviously never heard of sheltering money, because all she has now is the expensive dress on her back. Why come to a Brooklyn diner, especially when she (repeatedly) says she has a business degree from Wharton? Because nobody she knows would ever set foot in Brooklyn (remember, it’s the 2002 version transported through time).
Max’s transparently sleazy boyfriend hits on Caroline the first chance he gets. Max refuses to believe it when Caroline tells her. When Max gets home, she catches her boyfriend in the act. Max asks Caroline, who she just met and who caused the break-up of her relationship, to move in when she kicks the boyfriend out. Caroline brings the only thing other than her expensive white dress that she still owns… her horse. Bet you can’t guess what Caroline falls in wearing that white dress during Episode 2.
Max makes really good cupcakes, for which there still is a niche in the market (remember… 2002). Caroline is going to contribute her Wharton business skills, which somehow only qualify her to be a waitress at a crappy diner. At the end of each episode, they’ll show how close they are to the amount they need to open their cupcake shop, $250,000 (I think they might be able to start smaller, like at a farmer’s market or something, but, hey, I didn’t go to Wharton).
Observations on working class life, the tension of a running tally, a wacky horse living in a Brooklyn backyard… how could it lose?
Best Line: (to annoying hipsters) “I wear knit hats when it’s cold out… you wear knit hats because of Coldplay.” Coldplay?
Whitney – Pilot – 6.84 million viewers
Whitney – First Date – 5.40 million viewers
Just because Whitney is also nestled after an aged hit (The Office), also features an annoyingly enhanced “live studio audience”, and also stars a sassy brunette with a penchant for sexually explicit jibes, don’t think it’s just another version of 2 Broke Girls. See, this one features a nice boyfriend and no horse. See, totally different.
Although 2 Broke Girls was co-created by the Sex and the City guy, this is one that just may be accused by the uninformed of ripping it off. Whitney Cummings plays Whitney Cummings (so meta), a photographer (not a columnist) with a live-in boyfriend and friends that she likes to banter about sex with (there’s one that likes sex and one that likes being married, but no bitter redhead… see, totally original).
Whitney and her nondescript boyfriend are proudly committed to not being married, and feel badly for those who don’t have the relaxed closeness they do. Their live-in relationship is so healthy and happy that the plots of the first two episodes revolve around Whitney’s wacky Lucyesque ways of spicing up their dead sex life. In the first episode she’s afraid that they’re losing their spark, so Whitney dresses up in a slutty outfit… the boyfriend hits his head on the counter while taking off his pants and ends up in the hospital. In the second episode she realizes they never had a first date, so makes him take her on one even though they’ve been together for three years. He’s makes fun of it, so she kicks him out, but he doesn’t call for a couple of days because it’s supposed to be a first date, so… fucking never mind. Let’s just say that it’s shaping up that every week Whitney’s gonna have a lotta of ‘splainin’ to do.
Best Line: (while seducing her boyfriend dressed as a nurse) “Are you here to see Dr…. Quinn?”
Which show will be cancelled first? Which show will be the first to provide an actual laugh? Tune in on Friday for our Week Three recap.