Ellen Gray: Lifetime's 'Sherri' hits home
SHERRI. 7 tonight, Lifetime. 10 p.m. Tuesdays, starting tomorrow. IF I'M STILL a little embarrassed to admit how often I'm watching Lifetime lately, it's because I still tend to think of "television for women" as "television about women as victims."
SHERRI. 7 tonight, Lifetime. 10 p.m. Tuesdays, starting tomorrow.
IF I'M STILL a little embarrassed to admit how often I'm watching Lifetime lately, it's because I still tend to think of "television for women" as "television about women as victims."
Can't really say that, though, about "Army Wives," or "Drop Dead Diva," or even "Project Runway" (though the last one does produce its share of fashion victims). I've yet to encounter a woman on any of those shows who's unwittingly married a serial killer, and in fact, lots of the men are pretty decent specimens. As for infidelity, on "Army Wives," it's as likely to involve a cheating wife as a cheating husband.
This, I've been thinking, is the new Lifetime, where men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but the two planets aren't actually at war 24/7.
So I was a little taken aback when I realized that "Sherri," a new Lifetime sitcom that gets a sneak preview tonight before moving to Tuesdays, wasn't just a star vehicle for comedian and "The View" co-host Sherri Shepherd, but an apparently barely disguised account (from Shepherd's point of view) of the end of the actress' marriage to the father of her young son.
Let's just say Shepherd has a few issues. Or maybe just the one.
We find her first in the lunchroom of the law firm where her character, Sherri Robinson, works as a paralegal. (Shepherd reportedly was a legal secretary earlier in her career.) You can almost see her sitting there with Sara Rue and Andy Dick of "Less Than Perfect," but, no, these are two other co-workers, and Sherri's holding forth about fidelity. Or the lack thereof.
"Trust me. A man who cheats can never be trusted again. Dump him," she tells a new colleague, who then has the temerity to ask if she never even considered taking her husband back after he cheated on her with a much younger woman he met at a Quizno's.
Apparently not. "Screw me once, shame on you. Screw a white girl, we're done," she replies.
No telling how this attitude's going to go over with most Lifetime viewers – I get what she's saying, but close your eyes and imagine reversing the races in that scenario - but it's apparently a winning one with everyone Sherri encounters on "Sherri," each of whom gets to hear the story at least once.
"Once that bat signal goes up in the sky that your man's been caught cheating, women unite," she explains.
Even if that's true, it's not necessarily good news for "Sherri," which after tonight moves to 10 p.m. Tuesdays, the same time slot in which CBS' "The Good Wife" is currently drawing a crowd for a story of a much higher-profile bit of cheating involving a public official (Chris Noth) and his beautiful, smart and resourceful wife (Julianna Margulies), who doesn't have to tell everyone she meets what happened to her, because, sadly, they already know.
What's sad about "Sherri" – other than the fact that her ex, Kevin, is played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who was brought up better than this by Cliff and Clair Huxtable – is that while it's supposedly a show about a woman moving on after a divorce, it's being made by a woman who so clearly hasn't.
Sure, we can laugh at CBS' "The New Adventures of Old Christine," which has more than a few parallels with "Sherri," but how would it feel if we knew that Julia Louis-Dreyfus' husband had found a "new Julia"?
Maybe not so funny, I'm thinking.
If comedy really is, as Carol Burnett said, "tragedy plus time," Shepherd just might need a bit more.
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