The Soapbox: Can We Leave Whitney Cummings Alone, Please?

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Earlier this week, it was announced that Whitney Cummings landed her own E! talk show titled, “Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings.” The show will be a weekly half-hour talk show appearing with “The Soup” on Wednesdays. Whitney and sidekick Julian McCullough will host guests, crack jokes and comment on pop culture. I’m not surprised that she landed her own talk show, but other people seem to be. Like her work or not, the girl is having a moment right now.

What’s disheartening are the blogsphere’s reactions to the news. Headlines include: “Whitney Cummings Gets the Late-Night E! Talk Show of Your Nightmares” and “Whitney Cummings Getting A Talk Show, So You Can Hear More Of What Whitney Cummings Thinks About Things.”

New York Magazine’s Margaret Lyons writes:

How glib! It’s so glib, just like her and her bawdy, bawdy humor … The show starts airing later this year, which means Whitney Cummings could conceivably have three series on the air (‘Whitney,’ ’2 Broke Girls,’ and this), and almost everyone else alive on Earth will have zero.

Alex Pappademas of Grantland takes the snark a step further:

TV history’s most terrible lady-monster, Whitney Cummings, continues doing everything short of building her own orc army and everybody yawns? Priorities, people. Dunham gets knocked for being an exemplar of privilege, but you know what “privilege” is? Privilege is getting another chance to build a TV show around a ‘sensibility’ the viewing public just finished gagging on when it was served to them in multicamera-sitcom form.

Sheesh. So people didn’t looovveeee “Whitney” as much as they wanted to. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite show to hit the airwaves this fall. But “TV’s most terrible lady-monster?” Come now. Surely, we cannot abide by that law when it comes to entertainment — one “flop” and you’re out. If that were the case, Margaret Cho would have been a goner after her sitcom “All-American Girl.” It stunk. But she’s awesome.

I feel that these criticisms of Whitney are way disproportionate to her work. Similar to the Lena Dunham “Girls” phenomenon, this mentality irritates me because of the unfair pressure for one woman to be the voice for all women in a way that men are never asked to be. No one is bitter about Ashton Kutcher’s success. No one is slamming him for his work, which is always built around a “sensibility.” And one that I happen to find excessively douchey.

There’s a subtext to the excessive criticism of Whitney: “Whitney doesn’t deserve the opportunities she’s receiving. Her humor does not represent all women’s humor. Other female comedians are funnier. She got ahead too easily. She got ahead because she’s pretty.”

I can understand this feeling. It’s jealousy. I was once a struggling actress with tons of talent. I was going on an endless string of auditions, doing shitty gigs for little or no pay while watching other people (some way less talented and hardworking, but usually better looking) scoop up all the parts and score fortune and fame along with it. It can be hard to stomach.

Maybe some people feel this way about Whitney. I say, “Deal with it.” That is the reality of the world — not just the entertainment industry, but the whole world. Shit’s not always as fair as we think it should be. I eventually realized it was futile to compare myself to other people. We are all on our own schedule, we get opportunities at varying times in our life, peak at different moments.

The truth is that much of this criticism of Whitney is born of bitterness and “pretty girl hatred.” Take it from a former actress, you don’t get three television shows by sitting on your duff and waiting for them to land in your lap. And you don’t get them just because you’re pretty. You work your tail off. You do stand-up comedy, you take classes, you network, you hone your skills, and then maybe, if all the stars align for you, you get a break. And maybe you do the exact same thing and you never get a break. That is the way it goes, my friends.

If there is still leftover vitriol about “Whitney” being a perceived flop (especially by women), it’s time to let it go. Like I said, I don’t love the show; other people like Jessica really do enjoy it. But I did love her Comedy Central special “Money Shot.” I think I peed my pants. There are other female comedians out there — with totally different styles — that make me pee my pants as well. If her “bawdy, bawdy” humor is not for you, don’t watch her shows. The same goes for male comedians. Some love Louis CK, some find him offensive. He’s working all the time. Point being: No one is forcing you to watch anything.

I think Whitney’s talk show will be hilarious. If her roundtable stints on “Chelsea Lately” are any indication, I think her humor is better suited for a talk show format. But ultimately, I respect anyone who can get a show on the air. It’s quite a feat in the wild world of Hollywood — it involves jumping through multiple hoops with producers, show runners, network execs and advertisers. You have to have some serious grit to conquer the entertainment industry — if not conquer it, to get at least one show, not to mention three.

Seriously, stop with the judgey, snarky digs at Whitney and show some respect to a female comedian who is hitting her stride. We should honor each other’s accomplishments because with the stars in a slightly different alignment, it could be one of us reaping the rewards.

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