Sarah Silverman’s return to television sparked a network bidding war yesterday — and today, NBC emerged the winner, snagging her pilot pitch about readjusting to single life.
A sitcom spawned by a caustic comedienne with an unmistakable voice and a loyal following?
If it sounds familiar, that’s because NBC already has two in the works: one from Whitney Cummings and one from Chelsea Handler.
The three have different brands.
Cummings goes for a guy’s-girl vibe, Handler is lethal with a barb, and Silverman is a no-boundaries risk taker.
But in the language of network TV, they’re women aiming to make comedies filled with jokes that women relate to.
And no network is big enough for three of those. So who will win — and who will fail?
Let’s look at how the competition stacks up.
Since Silverman’s project has just been sold, we don’t have much to go on. What we do know is that she’s got the biggest comedy cred of the three — and that she’s the only one with a longrunning scripted show under her belt.
The biggest thing working against Silverman in this situation is network censorship — she’s not going to get away with half the stuff she could on Comedy Central (read: entire episodes built around characters revenge-pooping on birds).
Though we doubt she’d bother shopping networks a down-and-dirty cable project, she’s inevitably going to be toned down in some way — and bleaching her brand too much will defeat her from the get-go.
Then there’s Handler’s project, slated for midseason, based on Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea and starring Laura Prepon.
The preview clip we saw at NBC’s upfront wasn’t incendiary, but it wasn’t horrible, either. It played like a slightly-sassier preview for a Katherine Heigl movie.
But a few months later, news of a shakeup leaked: half the show’s cast was fired, signaling that a total rework was in order.
Finally, there’s “Whitney.”
We’ve been trying to hold our tongue on this one for a while, but here goes. It’s time.
The amount of faith NBC appears to have in Cummings’s show is utterly baffling.
It’s getting the bulk of their promotional energy.
Incredibly, it’s getting the sole open position on NBC’s plum Thursday primetime block.
But from what we’ve seen, it’s awful. It’s the television equivalent of a clueless women’s magazine story.
Have you seen these ads? Giving your man the silent treatment is a reward and all that hilarious jazz? Come on. Stale. Lame.
Speaking of stale and lame: one has to think that if NBC was content with the efforts of Cummings and Handler, it wouldn’t have gone to the mat outbidding its competitors for Silverman.
For that reason — and because she can win female viewers without leaning on her second X chromosome — our money’s on Sarah.
And we’ve never felt better about a bet.