Fall TV First Impression: Whitney's Coming

The broadcast networks have more than 30 shows debuting this fall. To help you prepare for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions based on the not-for-review pilots. Next on our list is.…

THE SHOW | NBC’s Whitney (Thurdays at 9:30/8:30c, premiering Sept. 22)

THE COMPETITION | ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Fox’s Bones, CBS’ Person of Interest (new), and The CW’s The Secret Circle (new)

THE CAST | Whitney Cummings (Chelsea Lately), Chris D’Elia (Glory Daze), Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock), Zoe Lister-Jones, Rhea Seehorn (The Starter Wife) and Dan O’Brien

TVLine’s Fall TV Premieres Calendar: Save the 101 Dates!

THE SET-UP | Cummings, a tart stand-up comedienne by trade, plays Whitney, a photographer who is happily unmarried to Alex (D’Elia). Their circle of sitcom friends include treacly lovebirds Lily and Neal (Lister-Jones and Pancholy), brassy/boozy divorcee Roxanne (Seehorn) and “ladies man” Mark (O’Brien). The pilot, directed by sitcom vet Andy Ackerman (Seinfeld), finds the group navigating a wedding, then dealing with Alex’s ER visit in the wake of a sexual role-playing escapade gone wrong.

More of TVLine’s First Impressions: NBC’s Up All Night and The Playboy Club, Fox’s Terra Nova and New Girl, ABC’s Pan AmOnce Upon a Time and Charlie’s Angels, The CW’s Hart of DixieThe Secret Circle and Ringer, CBS’ Unforgettable2 Broke Girls and Person of Interest

THE GOOD | D’Elia makes up for any of Cummings’ shortcomings as a first-time sitcom star with some winning line deliveries and reaction shots (partly because he has one of those eyebrows); his “unfinished” appearance is also refreshing. Pancholy, for too long relegated to seven seconds of weekly screen time as Jack Donaghy’s aggressively loyal assistant, gets to stretch his legs and play an amusing, less creepy character.

THE… COULD-BE-BETTER | When I was fresh out of college, my then-writing partner and I churned out a few sitcom spec scripts, and Whitney came off like the lesser of them. The pilot is quite traditional and sitcommy, no better exemplified than the cold open during which Whitney and Alex debate her choice of wedding attire. What most disappointed me about the pilot is that Cummings can be extremely funny on stage, but her humor comes from a caustic place. The fictional Whitney is “loud” (as one wedding guest notes) but surprisingly barb-free, and she’s certainly not outrageous. It’s a curious mismatch of sassy comedienne and homogenized role. Among the supporting characters, Mark is the latest member of TV’s growing douchebag club — obviously envisioned as a Barney Stinson-like scene-stealing cad, yet with not a drop of charm — while I feel like I’ve seen the Roxanne type on myriad other shows.

Fall TV Preview: TVLine’s Guide to All of the New Shows!

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | I don’t envy any sitcom leading out of a sure to be scrutinized season of The Office, and if Whitney fails to retain enough of that audience, NBC would be wise to promptly put Parks and Recreation (currently slotted for the 8:30 slot) back where it belongs. Diving headfirst into the scripted TV waters this fall with not one but two shows, Cummings should find solace in the fact that CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, which she co-created and is producing, will be a crowd-pleaser.

Watch a video preview for Whitney, then vote in our poll below.

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37 Comments
  1. Sam says:

    This will be terrible, but maybe America will eat it up. If a lowest-common-denominator show like this is what it takes for NBC to keep renewing Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Parenthood, and Community, then I’m all for it. I just won’t be watching it.

    • Samuel Worthington esquire says:

      You won’t be watching but you sure felt the need to snob up the comments section eh? OH this show is so below me I will not deign to watch it blah blah blah. 30 Rock loves its own low brow-ness, maybe you should too.

      • Sam says:

        Dear sir,
        This show is below even you, I would imagine. You seem to be able to form a sentence, and thus are too intelligent for this dreck Whitney Cummings is dragging across our TV screen. Congratulations.
        signed,
        A Low-Brow 30 Rock Lover

      • Templar says:

        @Sam etc. What a tool you are. Obviously not an attorney or you would know that Esquire is always capitalized after one’s name.

        • D_Lama says:

          Being bitter and full of ego is no way to go through life. Get over yourself and be happy that you have the time and some talent to be still involved with 30 rock on any level. No need to go around bashing peeps that simply are given an opportunity to explore their talents. You don’t have to like Whiney but it might serve your social skills to attempt to pretend to be grateful for what you have been given.

    • ruba says:

      i totally agree, you took the words right out of my mouth

    • D_Lama says:

      Dear Sam, Being bitter and full of ego is no way to go through life. Get over yourself and be happy that you have some talent to be still involved with 30 rock on any level. No need to go around bashing peeps that simply are given an opportunity to explore their talents. You don’t have to like Whiney but it might serve your social skills to attempt to pretend to be grateful for what you have been given. My guess is that you do not like yourself very much and turn anger on others and that makes you feel better about yourself. Ya, let’s call it armchair psychology but you happen to be an easy read.

  2. abc123 says:

    Horrible. One of the worst shows of the coming season. It will be gone and forgotten by Christmas.

  3. JJ says:

    The best comedy block this fall will be ABC’s MODERN FAMILY and HAPPY ENDINGS hour on Wednesdays. None of the preview clips for WHITNEY look very good. And she does not have the charisma to topline her own series.

  4. Jake says:

    The commercials for it are horribly annoying and not that funny.

  5. heather says:

    I’m really over shows with a laugh track. If it’s funny, I’ll laugh. I don’t need the show to tell me when I’m supposed to find something funny.

    • D_Lama says:

      I can’t agree with you because Whitney is a standup comedian and it’s not a laugh track but a live audience which works perfect for talents that do standup. I saw the pilot and thought it was great. Thought you would want to at least know that it’s not a laugh track not that it should later your opinion and the fact that ONLY comedies that do not use laugh tracks are edgy is also a very foolish position. I think that comedy works or doesn’t work no matter what the background noise is doing. For me, I would like to see Whitney be given a moment to work this out. Just like Seinfeld was offered the time but that type of intelligence is rare in this biz and development is silly with pulling shows before they get their legs. If All in the Family were produced today it would never see the light of day and same goes for Seinfeld.

      • Buffy Freak says:

        Most shows with a live audience still use a laugh track. I’ve been to several tapings of sitcoms and when I watch the episode on TV there are huge laughs at jokes that fell completely flat during the taping.

        • JAmandaFan says:

          Plus, it has a laugh track/ live audience but it’s on with Community, Parks and Rec and The Office–which don’t have laugh tracks. The show is going to feel out of place. Laugh track sit-coms belong on CBS. Bring 30 Rock back! Or at the very least I think Up all night would have been a better fit after the office.

  6. Ashley says:

    When I first saw the preview for this, I expected there to be some big reveal showing it were actually a show about brilliant, funny, and caustic actors and actresses who star in a bad, cliche-ridden sitcom – you know, their reaction to the corny dialogue and situations, interactions with earnest and inexperienced writers, unoriginal showrunners, and the like. Imagine my disappointmentw when I realized it actually WAS a bad, cliche-ridden sitcom. No thanks!

    Maybe Whitney can come up with a fabulous recurring role for herself on “2 Broke Girls”.

  7. NickC says:

    I was going to say the same thing….she comes off badly.The one about guys watching sports is not only unfunny but it is wrong.If she was watch SVU she would be dressed like a cop.Not a hooker…there are a few shows this season that seem like the should be on LIFETIME and this is one of them.

  8. NickC says:

    am i the only one that can’t comment about a comment?When i try it just puts it at the bottom and then it makes no sense.

    • D_Lama says:

      Maybe the problem with you not being able to comment is the fact that you’re not funny. Just a thought but then again…look at me. I’m a fat lazy hairless man that watches TV and comments on comments. Go figure.
      It’s just sad that you can’t even do that.

  9. Mandy says:

    Yeah this is going to be disappointing I think. Whitney Cummings’ stand up is really funny but it’s definitely not network TV material, so it seems like the sitcom’s just going to be a watered-down version of her. Maybe she would have done better with a sitcom on cable where she could have been more herself.

  10. Molly says:

    I’ve seen her stand up and it’s hilarious, but this show just looks TERRIBLE.

  11. Gretchen says:

    No, thanks.

  12. kevin says:

    WHITNEY and HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN are two of the worst new sitcoms on Thursday nights.

  13. Davey says:

    I’ve hated the previews for this show from day one. Not funny and Whitney seems a hateful character.

  14. J says:

    Oh no. This doesn’t look at all good. I have a huge girl crush on Whitney and Chris D’Elia seems adorable but… sigh.

  15. D_Lama says:

    I love Whitney,
    I say give the woman a chance. How much have we seen? Not too much..a few clips? so, let’s see what gives and my feeling is that Whitney is not a slacker and will kick butt when she gets to warmup and expand on that caustic humor of hers and I don’t give a crap about a laugh track / live audience as long as it’s funny, that’s what I’m tuning in for.

  16. Sheldon W. says:

    Whitney isn’t even Cumming’s best show, this fall.

    That would be 2 Broke Girls on Fox – a kind of odd couple series featuring a character who’s very like the caustic, stand-up Cummings and a very refined, but broke-because-daddy-was-a-Madoff-clone princess.

    It helps that 2 Broke Girls is has a superior cast [especially Kat Dennings as the caustic half of the duo] and the writing is sharp enough to cut steel.

    I don’t see any potential for Whitney, but if 2 Broke Girls doesn’t garner an audience, I’ll be very disappointed.

  17. Rjrtist says:

    The humor is just awful. The canned laughter can’t even bring a smile to a dead fish.

  18. Dan says:

    Ms. Cummings is painfully grating, obnoxious and loud. But most importantly, she’s just not even remotely funny.

    They run at least a dozen different promos for her show, and there’s not ONE laugh in any of them.

    I give it 3 weeks tops.

  19. Blow says:

    Whitney is not going to be a show that’s heavily favored by the internet community. Whitney’s audience is the audience that watches shows like Two and a Half Men and that’s what NBC is looking for. Their not looking for the same crowd that watches their current comedies. They are looking to expand their audience and maybe bring back some of those viewers that watched Friends and Will & Grace back in the day.

    Whitney seems like a simple enough show for the casual viewer to get into that’s what’s eventually going to draw viewers into it. I just think that Whitney has two directions that its going to go in and that’s either hit or fail. It’s up to NBC to be patient enough with the show to find its own audience. It’s going to take a while for Whitney to build its own audience b/c their on a network where its fanbase doesn’t favor traditional comedies.

    With that being said 2 Broke Girls looks amazing and that will be TV’s next big hit since Big Bang Theory.

  20. JAmandaFan says:

    I saw the pilot on demand and I didn’t like it. The jokes weren’t funny and the show felt like it was trying to hard. The scene with Whitney and her mom was the worst. That scene was painfully unfunny. And her friends were all one night characters–none of them were likeable. If it’s going to survive- it has a lot of work to do.

  21. Renee verker says:

    I just can’t get pass the ” laughter track” be it live or otherwise. Comedy is so much better without hearing that horrible laughter. It’s just not modern anymore.

  22. Holland says:

    Wow, what a painful premiere. Is the laugh track supposed to be ironic and retro? With or without it, no live LOLs for you, Whitney.

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