Up All Night is kind of the forgotten sitcom on NBC (insert joke here that all NBC shows are forgotten). So, on Wednesday’s we had Whitney, one of the worst shows we’ve seen in a while and Are You There, Chelsea?, the worst show since, well, Whitney. While not entirely viewer heavy themselves, they’re nowhere near funny enough for us to ever discuss again. They graciously finished up their seasons in favour of the actually pretty good Bent (R.I.P.) and the “Adam Pally clone” starring Best Friends Forever. NBC promptly took these shows out behind the shed before anyone even realized they had a new pet. Now, NBC’s PRIME UNCONTESTED UNBREAKABLE THURSDAY NIGHT OF COMEDY is, of course, falling in the ratings like everything else on the network, only to be somewhat redeemed critically by two shows. These two shows, Parks & Recreation and Community, although critical darlings are only getting slightly serviceable ratings (for NBC anyways), and remain one of NBC’s (very) few bright spots, so they’re set aside. 30 Rock seems content to churn out the same episodes until the dwindling ratings cause it to be cancelled, or Tina Fey wants to go focus on being a mother, or something equally ridiculous. The Office is falling in ratings, laughs, proper story lines, showrunners and cast members, looks like it has a bright future.
This is where Up All Night comes in. Yes, its ratings are falling as well, BUT SO IS EVERYTHING ELSE ON NBC, so lets just throw ratings out the window and never talk about them again (well, in this article) and focus on the content of the show(s). Nobody really seems to be paying attention to Up All Night anymore and I do see why. I’ve read a lot about people saying its not funny or it never delivers laugh out loud jokes, just a serviceable comedy for a couple small laughs. While that can be true in some cases, Up All Night is slotted with comedies that are completely different in tone and make-up. It’s not wacky like Community or 30 Rock, and its not as character driven yet (I’m speaking broadly here) as Parks & Recreation or The Office. Up All Night is grounded more in reality than its preceding shows and it seems like this exterior might be making some viewers wary since it isn’t a joke-a-minute sitcom like Community. It can be equally satisfying but in a more truer to life comedic slant where jokes are played off the trials and tribulations of parenting and the production of a talk show with an eccentric celebrity. Coming off its lead-in shows is quite the change of pace when segueing into Up All Night, and some people have just tuned out by then, literally and figuratively.
Up All Night is very funny though, and I find myself laughing out loud more than I do in latter episodes of The Office or even sometimes at Community (Just kidding! I just wanted to see how you’d react, well, kind of, but seriously, I’m not the biggest Community fan, but I do think it is a better than Up All Night). Will Arnett has great delivery and thus is able to save a lot of jokes and lines due to him being relegated as a “stay at home dad” type. Also, off on a slight tangent, Will Arnett has seemingly made his California-bred character a Toronto Maple Leafs/hockey fan (just like himself in real-life), which if you hadn’t been transported to California from elsewhere, I don’t think this person even exists if they were born and raised in California. A Californian who is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan? Alright, then. Christina Applegate is surprising game for a lot of things and will continue to grow as a character as long as they get some of her shrewdness in order (the character, not Applegate, I’m sure she couldn’t be more wonderful). The biggest change was probably getting Maya Rudolph’s character in order and having Jason Lee as her boyfriend, which helped ground her character and leave her less reliant on always being around Arnett and Applegate. There’s also an underlying sadness in Rudolph’s character which is just tapped enough to be effective and not overdone. Rudolph plays these emotional beats very well, garnering some sympathy for her character, especially against some of her comedic highs. Rudolph still has killer one-liners each episode, which largely contribute to the “laugh-out-loud” section of jokes.
I’m not writing this article to say that Up All Night is the greatest or funniest show ever (which its not), but just to shed some light on how I feel it got buried in the sand a bit and painted with a broad brush in terms of comedy style. It doesn’t even get the kinds of publicity or recognition from NBC that it gives to good shows (Parks & Recreation) and bad shows (Smash). I’m probably not even supposed to like this show, it’s about a married couple with a new baby and a women’s talk show host, I couldn’t possibly think of two worse things. But, of course it’s the actors that make or break it, and they do in deed make it. With its dwindling ratings (less than 3 million) who knows if it will get another season (Will Arnett curse) and if it doesn’t I won’t lose any sleep over it and probably will forget about it quicker than NBC burned off Bent. This is whole thing is basically just to say “Hey, guys! Up All Night is actually a little better and funnier than you originally gave it credit for!”. All I’m saying is that Up All Night may not be Parks & Recreation, but it sure isn’t Whitney, by a loooooooooong stretch.