Tonight NBC debuts a new half-hour comedy that many UnderScoopFire readers might not be interested in. “Are You There, Chelsea?” premieres in the 8:30PM EST time slot, sidled up to “Whitney” as part of what NBC is now calling “Happy Hour Wednesday”.
The Twitter circle that we run in has been definitively unkind to comedian Whitney Cummings’ self-titled sitcom, myself included. That being said, I did always like Whitney Cummings before she was “Whitney”, and I feel the same about Chelsea Handler.
The difference here is that Chelsea isn’t playing “Chelsea”, that job has been given to Laura Prepon. I like Chelsea Handler, but I LOVE Laura Prepon.
Prepon stole our hearts as red-headed tomboy next door Donna Pinciotti on “That 70′s Show” from 1998 – 2006. 70′s is currently my syndication rerun of choice on most free-of-new-programming evenings. This was a show that I have come to realize I did not properly appreciate in its time. I remember FOX juggling its time slot for a while, and being in my early 20s I was migrating away from being able to relate to high school kids as much I had before. We think we know it all in our early 20s, don’t we?
I digress. The point here is: Laura Prepon is the real deal. In the later seasons of “That 70s Show”, when Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher no longer inhabited the Forman’s basement, Donna carried the show. She of course had help from Jackie, Hyde and Fez; but to me she was the relatable protagonist, the only one we were supposed to care emotionally about.
When “That 70s Show” came to an end, Laura popped back on the scene and received praise for her role as Hannah Daniels on ABC’s “October Road”. Since then, she has appeared here and there on such shows as “House” and “Medium”, but the one that sticks out is her turn as snarky Ted Mosby-ex Karen on “How I Met Your Mother”. As Donna, she was kind, vulnerable, lovable. Her HIMYM character is at the other end of the spectrum, proving she has range as a comedic actress.
When “The New Girl” debuted on Fox this past fall, I tuned in for Zooey Deschanel, and have since stayed for the whole cast. Tonight, I will be tuning in to the premiere of “Are You There, Chelsea?” for Laura Prepon, hoping for a bit of the same magic.
If Laura Prepon can win some more hearts (which I’m betting she will), I expect some support in nominating her for the UnderScoopFire Wife Pretty Hall of Fame! She would be joining fellow “That 70s Show” cast mate and August 2011 inductee Mila Kunis.