CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Whitney" was supposed to return to NBC on Oct. 19, along with "Community." Instead, both were held, ostensibly for NBC to concentrate on promoting its new shows, but really to have shows in its back pocket if any of those new shows failed.
And "Animal Practice" has, which is why "Whitney" returns for its sophomore season at 8 p.m. Wednesday. ("Community" doesn't return until Feb. 7.)
There is vitriol across the Internet toward star and creator Whitney Cummings and, thus, by extension, the show. I'm not familiar with her stand-up, so I can't speak to that, but I like the show. It's not in my top five sitcoms or anything, but it's an enjoyable half hour.
Part of the problem with its reception, I think, is its title. Calling it "Whitney" positions it as a show about her, which isn't great marketing when so many people seem to violently hate her. Really, though, it's more of an ensemble comedy.
In addition to her, there's Chris D'Elia as her boyfriend, Alex, as well as Rhea Seehorn, Dan O'Brien and Zoe Lister Jones as their friends -- divorcee Roxanne, womanizer Mark and Lily, who's fresh off a broken engagement. Maulik Pancholy (Jack's assistant on "30 Rock") played Lily's ex-fiancée but won't return this season; comedian Tone Bell joins the cast as a new friend of Alex.
Cummings and D'Elia have great chemistry as the central couple, and D'Elia is charming enough to carry them through the rough patches when Whitney gets too obnoxious. Seehorn and O'Brien walk the fine line between playing and overplaying their characters, but, for the most part, they strike the right tone and are just as fun on their own as they are with Whitney and Alex.
My gold standard for laugh out loud comedy these days happens to be another ensemble comedy about urban pals: ABC's "Happy Endings" (which you need to start watching if you're not already!). While "Whitney" is miles away from that, it's still a decent show and one that I think got written off too quickly last year. If you're a sitcom fan like I am, why not give it a chance when it returns?
Series premieres: "Bada Bling Brides," 10 p.m. Thursday, TLC (bridal shop specializing in Italian events); "Wedding Band," 10 p.m. Saturday, TBS (comedy about friends in a wedding band); "Chainsaw Gang," 10 p.m. Saturday, CMT (chainsaw artists); "Big Texas Heat," 10:30 p.m. Saturday, CMT (small town police force); "Catfish: The TV Show," 11 p.m. Monday, MTV (meeting online loves in real life); "Frontier Earth," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Animal Planet (elusive animals in remote locations); "Mankind: the Story of All of Us," 9 p.m. Tuesday, History (the history of mankind).