Dispatches From The Couch: In Defense of WHITNEY

It ain’t easy being a fan of a show that everyone else in the world seems to despise.

It’s especially tough when that show is a newbie that got off to a weak start before morphing into something most folks didn’t stick around long enough to see it become: a keeper.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… WHITNEY.

Based solely on the pilot — featuring an overly-loud laugh track, all-too-familiar wedding jokes and a cast who’d yet to find their collective footing — it’s easy to see why people may have been turned off and… well, tuned out.

But those of us who stuck around have witnessed a major transformation as stars Whitney Cummings and Chris D’Elia became one of the most entertaining comedy duos currently on the airwaves. Their alter egos, Whitney and Alex, bicker like real people. Often, their arguments start out serious before slowly become more humorous as one or the other realizes how irrational their behavior has been.

Better still, the ensemble surrounding the pair — with help from the writers putting words in their mouths — have gone from being generic sitcom stereotypes to fleshed out personas. They’re no longer caricatures designed to elicit cheap laughs, but rather characters whom we laugh with rather than at.

The best example of this change? Dan O’Brien’s Mark. Originally conceived as the sex-obsessed obnoxious guy that every sitcom feels the need to have, he has since mellowed considerably, thanks in large part to the burgeoning relationship between Mark and Roxanne (played by the bullishly charming Rhea Seehorn). While early episodes left us asking why anyone would spend time with, let alone be friends with, Mark, the subtle changes made since have gone a long way toward making him someone worth getting to know.

At the moment, WHITNEY is living “on the bubble”, which is industry speak for “fighting for a second season.” Working in its favor is the fact that NBC has at least a few bigger problems on its plate (like the show’s painfully unfunny timeslot companion, ARE YOU THERE CHELSEA?). But it wouldn’t hurt if those of you who wrote WHITNEY off earlier this season gave it a second look.

Maybe, just maybe, it’ll get a little less lonely over here on the side of the couch reserved for WHITNEY lovers.

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  • Selek54

    I’m saying I gave this show a number of chances. Part of the problem lies within Cummings herself, who is unappealing comedian who believes instead of crafting an original character as a woman, she has to act like she’s a man to be successful. The show depends too much on punch-lines and paint-by-number scripts. I hope NBC does pull the plug on this and the equally horrible Chelsea show, If they get picked up and Community gets the axe, then there is no justice for NBC. They deserve to fail.

  • KatyP

    I completely agree with this article. I just didn’t get this show at first and now I really feel like their material got way better. I love a good underdog story, and having WHITNEY come back for a second season would be amazing….

    I find it funny when people condemn WHITNEY to fail with such passion. It’s almost like it’s cool to hate it, and I especially see that from people who watch Community, (btw- I ALSO love Community. ) Just give it another shot and chill out people.. it’s not like we’re talking about something soooo significant here (like curing cancer..) It’s just TV.

  • http://twitter.com/David_ONeill_ David O’Neill

    Community is not curing cancer either, but it tries to be a better comedy show. It’s clever, satirical, and does not always go after the obvious punchline, much like the late Arrested Development. Whitney never tries to rise above mediocrity, and viewers are complicit in its mediocrity by saying “It’s almost like it’s cool to hate it.” Demand better TV, and you’ll get better TV. Just say “meh,” it’s just a lame comedy, and we’re stuck with lame comedies. 

  • AV7809

    Agree. WHITNEY season 2!!!!!!! 

  • Pnkrose417

    Actually, since day one I have loved this show. I think it is hilarious and realistic. I love Alex and Whitney as a couple, as individuals, and I think the entire cast is great. I am praying they don’t cancel it, because it has become one of my favorite comedies to watch. 

  • miss elliot

    Whitney is a great show with a growing fan base. I found it back in december and went back to watch the episodes I missed.

    I think this is one of my favorite shows of 2012 and hope that NBC gets it right and keeps it around. Whitney knows what she is doing and I can see how it has developed. Few shows are perfect out of the gate so I guess I was lucky to have found it in december but for me, I am hooked and I hope others find what I have come to look forward to every week in Whitney. 

  • http://sourabhlikestv.tumblr.com Sourabh

    This show works for me. I sure didn’t expect it to, but it does. And I say this as a staunch Community fan.

  • http://twitter.com/MrRJGonzales RJ Gonzales

    Never have I ever agreed so strongly with an article. I hope WHITNEY gets a second season.  It doesn’t deserve to be condemned and blamed for other shows being axed, cut, or placed on hiatus. They just need something to point an accusing finger at because that’s all people like to do when they don’t get what they want or don’t like something: just point, accuse, and plot its demise, and unfortunately for Whitney, it is THAT show.

    I’ve loved the show since episode one and have followed it ever since, watching as it has transformed from a show that provided a few laughs to a favorite. It deals with realistic problems in the life of one of TV’s most realistic and believable couples.

    Whitney isn’t trying to “act like a man” to be successful, she is being herself, and I find that response incredibly sexist. She is not someone who conforms to a specific mold, neither does her style of comedy and just because she may be a little gritty or blunt, doesn’t make her any less of a woman.

    Community is a great show too, but it is irrelevant to this article. I sincerely hope NBC doesn’t pull the plug on Whitney, there’s still many possibilities.

  • Johnhenry

    Dump it.  It stinks!  Ditto for Two Broke Girls, a nice concept and good actors but a really crappy script.

  • Theendall

    Yay! Glad to see my brother and I aren’t the only ones! Friggin love this show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erika-Snipes-Heinzle/551306777 Erika Snipes Heinzle

    My husband & I can’t wait for each new episode. It’s the first sitcom to make us genuinely laugh out loud in a LONG TIME. I agree, I think the ensemble is starting to mesh together much better now. And, some of the characters are not as two dimensional as when it started. I sure hope it gets renewed. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/David_ONeill_ David O’Neill

    Wow, I see a lot of people who want bland comedy. Yeah, so sad I’m fairly intellectual. I get that. Comedy is hard, always has been. But when a show like this, Chelsea,   2 Broke Girls, 2 & 1/2 Men use dumb humor to prop up its entire concept, then I think the only ones who enjoy these shows are 12 year-old boys. Dumb humor is great, in small doses, but like someone taking the walk of shame and not having the time to take a shower, they reek of desperation. These shows are ugly in both looks and outlook. They aim for nothing but the bottom and in doing so, they hit the bulls-eye.

  • Bry345

    I’m so glad that Dan O’Brien (Mark) is getting credit in this article! I HATED his scenes when this show began, but now all I can think about is how my boyfriend and I have a friend that’s just like him. So glad that his character has evolved into what it has–he’s kind of lovable now…in a weird way. Also- his interaction with Rhea Seehorn (Roxanne) is amazing!

  • C Brock

    I liked Whitney from the start!  I totally agree with this article.  The writing has gotten better and the actors have all developed their personalities on the show.  I like it because the characters they all play arent carbon copies of every other show.  They are unique.  And very funny!!

  • Anonymous

    I want everyone to know that I also love Whitney and became a crazy fan of this show. Thanks to all of the other fans of Whitney. It’s nice to see that there is someplace to go and say nice things about this show. Roxanne is my favorite and I would love to see more about Neal cuz I really don’t feel as if I know enough about this guy. 
    Anyhow, I love Whitney and look forward to seeing it for the next 5 years till syndication.