In the US: Mondays, 9.30pm ET/PT, CBS
What’s the lowest form of wit or comedy? Some say sarcasm, but clearly they haven’t read anything by Charlie Brooker. Maybe it’s any studio-based comedy about ‘friends’ or work colleagues where the dialogue consists solely of people making increasingly unpleasant remarks about each other in an attempt to get a laugh. That’s pretty low down the list, I would have thought.
But, no, the answer is obvious. Farce is the lowest form of comedy. It consists entirely of utterly implausible situations and ridiculous coincidences and elicits laughs purely through embarrassment.
And Brits are to blame for it. It’s our fault. Can I just say sorry to the rest of the world for that?
If we’d kept it to ourselves, maybe we wouldn’t have so much to answer for. But now we’re exporting it to the world. The Worst Week of My Life was a pretty dreadful BBC1 farce starring the normally talented Ben Miller and Sarah Alexander. The Beeb/Hat Trick sold the format to Germany – twice – and now CBS in the US has remade it as Worst Week.
And it’s absolutely dreadful. Should I apologise for that, too?
WORST WEEK is a comedy about Sam Briggs, an entertainment magazine editor who will do anything to please his girlfriend’s parents…but instead becomes a one-man wrecking crew whenever he’s around them. Sam (Kyle Bornheimer, “Jericho”) and his girlfriend, Melanie Clayton (Erinn Hayes, “Kitchen Confidential”), have only one hurdle left to clear as they start their life together: breaking the news to Mel’s conservative parents that they have a wedding in the works and a baby on the way. Dick (Kurtwood Smith, “That ’70s Show”), a stern Judge, and his wife Angela (Nancy Lenehan, “My Name is Earl”), are protective of their daughter, and are really trying to let go of the anger they feel toward Sam…after all, disaster follows whenever he visits their house. But despite his best efforts, every time Sam takes one positive step forward in winning over his future in-laws, he inevitably takes two crushing steps back. But with support and love from Melanie who stands up for him despite his knack for making himself look bad, Sam will hopefully charm his way into her family.
Is it any good?
It’s certainly worrying when you, the viewer, are sitting there thinking, “Oh my God. When is this going to end? Isn’t this illegal under the Geneva Conventions? Please stop it now.” And using my usual criterion of “How many times did I laugh during the show?”, the deeply miserable answer of “three” would certainly disqualify Worst Week from being classed as a comedy.
The problems are legion:
- Being stupid – although that hasn’t stopped either of CBS’s other sitcoms, Rules of Engagement and Two and a Half Men, from doing well.
- Utter implausibility – at no point do you think that any of what happens is what would have happened in real life
- Poor characters – the Seth Rogen-esque hero isn’t too bad, although nothing like any magazine editor I’ve ever encountered. But his girlfriend has had a personality bypass – she’s the standard ‘long-suffering woman’ character with no defining characteristics of her own who permeates the entire genre; and the parents are the standard ‘we hate your boyfriend’ parents that the genre always has as well
- No laughs. It’s just not funny. It’s cringe comedy, but not character-based: it’s purely situation-based, which genuinely is the lowest form of comedy. “Oh no, I’m having to wear a giant plastic diaper to meet my future in-laws”. Ever happened? Ever likely to happen ever? No.
I would have to kill myself if, in all conscience, I’d inadvertently given you some shred of hope this was worth watching. There is literally nothing here that’s good. Even the cast, who are good, have had all their good qualities cancelled out by the sheer awfulness of the show itself, so even if you like them, DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW.
If you really want proof – and I heartily recommend you don’t watch any of this – here’s a YouTube promo vid. It’s pretty much a précis of the first episode, so you won’t have to watch the episode if you can get through these three minutes. I wish I’d had that option.