At one point early on in the second episode of Whitney a couple teases the titular character that they haven’t “totally given up hope” and unfortunately, that’s what NBC and its audience should do. Normally I’d say to give a new show a chance and stick it out. However, this show just keeps giving reasons not to watch it again and very little reward if you actually stay for the entire episode.
“First Date” deals with Whitney coming to the realization that she and Alex never had a first date. Instead they met at a bar, got too drunk and slept together. Which makes sense because who would ever want to date such an irritating character? She pushes her boyfriend to ask her out on a proper first date, but then says that night is no good to either annoy him and the audience, or because she’s just a mean and aggravating character. Either way, they agree on a night to have their first date where he has to dress up to impress her and she has to hide the fact that she’s insane. Good luck, Whit. You’re going to need it.
What follows is every cliché expectation of what a first date should be, but plays off like a Disney Channel comedy that adults don’t find funny. However, Alex does provide laughs and acts as the voice of reason claiming the idea is ridiculous; which I wholeheartedly agree with. He ends up being forced to stay with Mark, his opinionated cop friend, who decides to push the game further just so Alex can become single again. In a show with almost everything wrong, Chris D’Elia’s performance of Alex is a step above the rest. As is Rhea Seehorn’s Roxanne. Her upfront, “I’ll day drink and not feel ashamed” attitude is amusing, but some of the things the writer’s have her say falls flat. Her role in this episode is underused in everyway. She is there to provide sarcastic comments on the other characters’ conversations, but never contributes. The one scene she does have quality screen time in is ruined by obnoxious dialogue by Whitney. Most of the time minor characters need to stay in the background to keep the spotlight on the stars, but in Whitney this minor character has the chance to slow down the sinking ship.
The fact that Whitney is trying to make an ‘authentic’ first date is perhaps the most laughable part surrounding the sitcom. I’m not talking about the plot, either. I mean how fake the show feels. Sitcoms rely on chemistry and nothing about Whitney says realistic. The premiere episode was dashed with a little bit of it, but the chemistry in “First Date” is cringe-worthy. It’s a pity, too. NBC’s Thursday night line-up features three other strong comedies before Whitney, but Whitney Cummings provides a flat finale to the comedy block.
Last year NBC struggled to find the missing link (last year featured six comedies instead of four like this year ending with an hour long drama) leaving viewers to sit through Perfect Couples, Outsourced and The Paul Riser Show. Last week I said that Whitney would make it until January and be booted when 30 Rock returns. Now, I’m not so sure. I see reruns filling in the spot in the near future.