Standup Whitney Cummings had a pretty great pilot season. NBC picked up Whitney, her show that she’ll write and star in, and she also co-developed Two Broke Girls, which CBS picked up. But since trailers for Whitney came online, she’s been getting a lot of flack for the show being a traditional multi-cam affair with a studio audience rather than a single-cam show like the rest of NBC’s comedy lineup. So she took to the internet to defend her decision.
I know on NBC there aren’t any live audience shows at the moment so I totally get why it’s jarring at first. But I think we’ve all forgotten that multi camera is how awesome scripted TV started. Shows used to be shot in front of a live audience. Humans sat in chairs and watched the actors act and laughed when they did something funny. Some of the best shows ever made had studio audiences: Cheers, Roseanne, Seinfeld, Friends. Basically the shows we grew up on as kids that made us not want to kill ourselves when we were in a vortex of depression. Just me? That’s cool too. A live studio audience didn’t bother us when those shows were on and I am sure a lot of ya’ll watch Seinfeld reruns, so I’m not sure why some people today are so upset that my show being made this way. Watching my show will basically feel like watching or seeing stand up. A joke happens and real people laugh. Why is that making people spaz out so much?
She makes a fair point! A show being multicam and in front of an audience is not an indicator of its quality. Of course, we’re in the middle of a time in which whether or not a comedy is multicam and in front of an audience is a decent litmus test for whether or not the show is “smart” or not, with most critically acclaimed shows avoiding that format. There’s clearly plenty of room for quality comedy shows in a multicam format, but it’ll just has to do a bit more work getting a more sophisticated audience on board when they’re used to laugh tracks on shows like Two and a Half Men but not on Parks and Rec.
One thing is certain, and that’s that judging a show before you’ve actually seen it is pretty stupid. So multicam or no, it’ll be interesting to see how Whitney turns out. If it’s good, maybe it’ll change some stubborn minds about the worthiness of the multicam format. If not, Whitney will just have to deal with jerks tweeting “I told you so” at her.