JESSICA BADER: I’ve been thoroughly annoyed by the new NBC sitcom Whitney ever since the posters advertising it were plastered all over bus stops and pay phones this summer, one-liners of retrograde sexism allegedly rendered “edgy” by being spoken by a woman. Then came the TV ads for the show, which were grating to the point that they made my teeth hurt every time I saw one. Finally, when an intelligent show I actually liked was cancelled after just four episodes, NBC added insult to injury by replacing it with reruns of Whitney.
Yet, for as many reasons as I had to be annoyed by the show, I began to feel uncomfortable about hating something I had never actually watched. After all, I can’t stand it when certain baseball broadcasters feel the need to repeatedly bash a book they admit they haven’t read, making my attitude towards this sitcom a tad hypocritical. When my DVR, a bit slow to get the message that Free Agents was no more, recorded the first Whitney rerun to air in that time slot, I figured I would give it a try just to say I had.
Having now watched an episode of Whitney, I can safely say that my distaste based on the promos was justified. The show centers around Whitney and her boyfriend Alex, who have been together for three years. In the episode that I saw, Whitney suddenly gets upset that, because their relationship began with a drunken hookup, she and Alex never had an official first date. She insists that they go out on a “first date,” it ends badly (Whitney is far too into playing the role, Alex doesn’t take it seriously), they both run to their friends to plot out their next move, wacky hijinks ensue, and all is back to normal in the end. There’s a laugh track, one of Alex’s friends tells him that he has to be extra mean after a first date now that women are confident from making their own money, Whitney and one of her friends think that making out in a bar to attract male attention is soooo clever, and the way Whitney and Alex behave towards one another for most of the episode makes you question how they’ve managed to stay together for three years. It was every bit as stale and unfunny and abrasive as I had expected.
While Whitney has been picked up for a full season, it has been losing viewers with each new episode. Hopefully next year there will be no grating commercials or annoying posters to contend with.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I for one am tired of television’s ‘sexy girl but oh she’s a tomboy and she doesn’t even know she’s hot so she sometimes pretends to ape sexy behavior but she doesn’t realize that it actually IS sexy because SHE is sexy even when she’s not trying to be but especially when she is fake-trying’ trope.
It’s just another way in which women are supposed to pretend they’re not smart or self-aware that they have power in any way. Over it!
And even worse is how badly women who are NOT attractive in a societally approved way are treated on TV when they try to act sexy– like they’re failures, and desperate.
Basically, on tv, if you’re sexy, act like you aren’t, because that is sexy, and if you’re not sure if you are sexy, don’t even TRY to pretend you are, because that is just sooo laughably pathetic.
Also, if you are sexy and you know you are, don’t act sexy then either, because then you’re just a skank who’s trying too hard.
How can you win???