Mini-review: Donny! 1×1 (US: USA)

Curb Your Fake Chat Show Hosts

In the US: Tuesdays, 10.30/9.30c, USA

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”

– Andy Warhol, 1969

“In the future, everyone will have their own TV show for 15 minutes”

– Me, now

Donny Deutsch isn’t someone I’d ever heard of until Donny! I had been quite interested in seeing Donny!, thinking it might be a new sitcom starring Donny Osmond. After all, how many famous Donnys are there, and any self-titled show that ends in an exclamation mark surely has to involve someone famous and be a sitcom, right?

But no, I soon realised my mistake. “That’s not Donny Osmond,” I thought. And I was right – you don’t get much passed me.

A Google search later and I soon discovered that Donny Deutsch is a former advertising executive and a regular guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, a judge on NBC’s version of The Apprentice, and the former host of CNBC’s The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CNN’s (Get to) The Point

There you go – that’s me educated.

Anyway, apparently, having done all this now qualifies him to have his own sitcom. He’s not an actor, but having seen Larry David do Curb Your Enthusiasm and been an adman for years, both he and the USA Network thought he could do something similar. 

Donny! sees Donny Deutsch playing a version of himself who hosts a Dr Phil-esque/Jeremy Kyle-esque talk show called Donny! Something of a narcissistic idiot, this Donny is surrounded by much smarter women who have to pick up the pieces of the disasters he creates by sexting stalkers, offering to sleep with his daughter’s teachers to get her out of trouble or trying to boost his ratings by confessing that he once had a mole that could have become a precancerous growth.

Then, every so often, he turns to camera to try to sell us something. Not an in-show product at that, but a real product that real-world advertisers are paying him to flog to us. And everyone on the show wonders who he’s talking to.

I so hope Campbell’s soup gets in on the act.

I’m not quite sure what USA was thinking. All its recent comedies have been awful (eg Benched, Sirens, Playing House), yet here it is, trying again, with what is pretty lukewarm material at best. I’m assuming it simply thought that given that Starz (Blunt Talk), Showtime (The Comedians), ABC (The Muppets) and Lifetime (UnREAL) have all recently had TV shows about fake TV shows, it needed one, too. Oh, yes – and Deutsch stumped up $175,000 to fund his own trial episode.

Whatever the reason, despite having its heart roughly in the right place and having some traces of imagination, this is six episodes of completely avoidable narcissism that Larry David did better. Hell, Jack Dee and even Ken Finkleman did better. Not Paul Reiser, mind – I’ll give Deutsch that much.

Anyway, all the funny bits are in the trailer below.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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