Diana Vacc sees “Great News”

“Breakdown” is right. GREAT NEWS represents how broken network TV really is. You’ll never see anything this bad on FX.

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT–

At the end of April, GREAT NEWS, a new sitcom produced by Tina Fey and created by Tracey Wigfield, a writer from Ms. Fey’s 30 ROCK, premiered on NBC. Like its predecessor, GREAT NEWS is also an exaggerated behind the scenes look at how TV works. This time around, however, the series centers around a news producer and her relationship with her mother, who unexpectedly begins working with her as an intern.

THE GOOD:

• Being a fan of 30 Rock and The Office, I was immediately hooked by this show’s setting and trailer. I can’t help it. I gravitate towards workplace comedies. They speak to me.

• Unfortunately, the setting is the only good thing about the show. Considering the current political climate and the kind of comedy we’ve come to expect when we hear the word “newsroom,” (I’m thinking of the ancient but hilarious Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as the more recent The Newsroom), I expected much more from Great News than it gives us.

THE BAD:

• Starting with the central relationship (the typical overbearing mother and the daughter who freaks out every time mom gets close) the writing here tries much too hard to be funny.  In the first episode, for example, the scene that sets up the basic premise, in which the mother, Carol (Andrea Martin) decides to intern with her daughter, Katie (Briga Heelan), comes straight out of the My Big Fat Greek Wedding playbook in terms of the comedy beats within the scene as well as the characters’ personalities.

• While watching the first two episodes (in their  entirety, for which I am thinking of awarding myself a medal) instead of laughing I just became more and more frustrated because I wanted so desperately to see Katie (Heelan) become her own person and tell her infuriating mother to STFU!

• The news anchor people portrayed by Nicole Ritchie and John Michael Higgins are the same stereotypes we’ve seen on every newsroom-centric show as well as in every such film – the stupid blonde girl and the entitled mature experienced journalist who expects everyone to cater to him.

THE REST:

Great News could only be called great in a culture where greatness is a notch or two below “mediocre.” It completely fails at serving it setting as well as creating laughs. As much as I want to like it, the show just doesn’t compare to my favorite comedies, The Office and 30 Rock. It hurts me to say this, but I can’t not recommend that anyone watch this show.

EDITED TO ADD: Just as I finished typing this review I learned that Great News, a show I never expected to even make it through this season, has already been renewed for a second one. Tina Fey’s production company must have some sweet deal!

 


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and one of the finest people we know. Find out more about her HERE