'She TV' proves sketchy on gender comedy


August 16, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

The afterlife of Barbie dolls, David Caruso's bare behind, cross-dressing and what the mothers of Beavis and Butt-head say while they watch TV. These are the kinds of topics tackled on "She TV" -- a limited-run, sketch comedy series that debuts at 10 tonight on WJZ (Channel 13).

The news of "She TV" is that it "explores the female point of view," say the show's executive producers, who are not folks you go out of your way to challenge. They are George Schlatter, of "Laugh-In," and Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey, who brought us sitcoms by Bill Cosby, Brett Butler and Roseanne.

You might have noticed, however, that two of the three producers are men. Two of the seven regular cast members are also men. Furthermore, a man directed the show, and several men were involved in writing it.

Three of the guest stars -- Al Franken, George Hamilton and Wilt PTC Chamberlain -- are men, too. Franken does a quick bit, which opens with him sitting behind a desk, wearing a suit and tie and talking about how "women just aren't funny."

Halfway through the sketch, he stands up to make a point and is seen to be wearing only a suit jacket. From the waist down, he's dressed in a plaid skirt and high heels. The laughtrack -- which sounds old enough that Schlatter might have recycled it from "Laugh-In" -- is cranked up to a roar at the appearance of Franken's hairy legs.

"See, you're laughing," Franken says. "Which proves that a man dressed like a woman is funny, but a woman dressed like a man just looks like a dyke."

I'm not sure what this really has to do with "exploring the female point of view." By the time you see the 50th shot of the "She TV All-Girl TV Band," you wonder if gender is being exploited as a gimmick to get the show noticed during its six-week run in the "NYPD Blue" time slot on ABC.

"She TV" is definitely about gender differences, though.

The opening sketch is a parody of "NYPD Blue," with regular Nick Bakay as Detective Kelly asking each of the women in the precinct house if, "You know, like you're OK about, you know, you and me last night. . . ."

Several say they are OK. But, finally, one woman stands up and says, "No Kelly, I'm not OK. I'm a single mother and I make one-third less the salary of my partner, but I have to be 10 times the cop he is because I'm a woman. Sipowicz wears the same suit every day. If I did that, I'd be laughed right out of the precinct. I have to work overtime so I can pay my baby sitter. I have to get up an hour earlier to paint my face with makeup. . . . So don't even ask me if I'm OK. OK?"

As she storms out of the room, a male cop who has been listening walks over to Kelly and says, "So what's wrong with her."

"That time of the month," Kelly says knowingly.

The show's funniest moments belong to regular cast member Jennifer Coolidge as a self-absorbed, brain-dead supermodel interviewing Al Gore: "So, now let me try to get this straight. You are married to Tipper and Bill is married to Hillary."

"She TV" has its moments. But, in terms of "exploring the female point of view," it's been done better and funnier by Roseanne, Brett Butler, Ellen DeGeneres, Margaret Cho, Paula Poundstone, Elaine Boosler, the late Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and dozens of other women -- even without the help of the "She TV All-Girl TV Band."

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