Hit or Sh**: NBC’s GREAT NEWS
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Watching GREAT NEWS really transported me to a different era, but not because it’s a period piece; this poor show is simply stuck in the past. There’s no doubt that we live in a new age of television where dramatic shows are put on par with cinema. But the newfound sparks of creativity and freedom don’t stop at drama—thanks to streaming platforms, cable, and HBO—comedies and sitcoms like IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY, BROAD CITY, and VEEP constantly push boundaries and reach new levels of funny. With TV advancing at lightning speeds, watching a run-of-the-mill show like GREAT NEWS feels especially slow paced. It’s like if you gave the mouse a cookie, but instead of now getting a glass of milk, the mouse winds up with some stale fruitcake. And perhaps it’s unfair to compare this level of truly groundbreaking television with NBC’s “latest and greatest,” but at the same time, it’s impossible for modern audiences to stomach this predictable and unfunny garbage anymore.
Wow, another formulaic comedy that stars mostly white people and does not have a firm grasp on the concept of a joke!
“Okay, so it’s not the best comedy of all time, or even the best on air right now, but does that really make it a bad show?” That’s exactly the kind of thought you may be having. And the answer to your unspoken question is a resounding YES. GREAT NEWS is a bad show, plain and simple. It’s an especially regrettable fact, considering that the concept alone gets an A+ in my book: as Katie struggles to get the respect she feels that she deserves at the news station where she works, her very close relationship with her mother reaches new tension when she starts work as an intern at the station! Yes, big laughs are sure to ensue! Unfortunately, the realization came nowhere close to its potential.
The characters are lazy stereotypes and tropes, and the semblances of jokes (i.e. some easy pop culture reference does not really count as a joke!) are so cheap and predictable it’s almost insulting. For example, when someone asks the group, “You know who I hate?,” the dumb blonde character responds, “Ivanka Trump? Same. You know she farted in my face at SoulCycle.” Like . . . what? Repeatedly harping on pop culture’s Most Hated Family (looking at you, Kardashians) wasn’t funny in 2010, and it’s still not funny today. Watching the pilot gave me the odd feeling that I was really watching something written by someone’s out-of-touch great aunt. There were uncomfortable fat jokes and an intro sequence featuring the song “Baby Love” by The Supremes (which makes no actual sense in context whatsoever). Littered with weird asides and “jokes” like these, GREAT NEWS relies on a funny-enough concept to make its way through the pilot without strong writing and real comedy for assistance.
This woman is almost as unbearable as Ivanka herself
Another insufferable fact about GREAT NEWS: the lead actress Briga Heelan is unfortunately not likable, funny, or talented enough to carry the show, especially when the supporting actors and characters are on the weak side as well. Sure, she’s kinda pretty, and is a female character with a nice job whose life is still kind of a mess: strong AND relatable! Wow! Yeah, audiences nowadays (especially female) see right through this lazy attempt to be “feminist” or “appealing” that many pieces of media often offer. On the flipside, I actually found Katie’s mom Carol to be extremely likable and funny—to me, she was the only saving grace of the show, and even then, a LOT of her jokes fell flat. She was, however, just immensely difficult to hate or be annoyed by, even though the premise really expects us to do so. Carol rambles on about baby Katie to their coworkers and Katie becomes livid in embarrassment, and while the audience should be cringing and laughing, identifying with Katie in her uncomfortable situation and whatnot, I can only think of how much I weirdly admire Carol, and that Katie is definitely being too hard on my favorite character.
And how unfortunate is it that the great team which brought us 30 ROCK has churned out this garbage? Perhaps GREAT NEWS will settle in and shake itself loose from its awkward restraints down the line, especially considering the same was true for their past hits. But until that happens, and unless it happens before the plug is pulled, don’t bother. If you’re one of those people who actually enjoys watching shows like THE BIG BANG THEORY or FULLER HOUSE (bless your hearts), then perhaps GREAT NEWS is right up your alley. But for those of us with a more refined palette, I recommend you steer clear.
GREAT NEWS airs on Tuesdays on NBC