Sherri” is an odd duck — a sitcom “loosely based” on comic/”The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd’s life before she was successful, back when she was a full-time office worker and part-time stand-up and actress. Mostly, the show functions as an opportunity to allow Shepherd to unleash comedic riffs while the rest of the appreciative cast takes in her act, dispensing advice like, “A man who cheats can never be trusted again. Dump him.” A sitcom with dialogue like that should probably be kept on a short leash, too.
Lifetime will launch the series at 7 p.m. (with “Rita Rocks”) before the programs take up residence at 10 p.m. Tuesdays, creating a lighter alternative to the cable dramas that populate that hour. And indeed, nobody will confuse “Sherri” with “Sons of Anarchy.”
Sherri is introduced with her office pals Celia (Tammy Townsend) and the cheerfully dense Angie (Elizabeth Regen), whose self-esteem issues lead her to sleep with guys — married or otherwise –only if they really like her.
As for Sherri, she’s a single mom with a concerned dad (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” James Avery), an awkward suitor (“Spin City’s” Michael Boatman) and an ex-husband (“The Cosby Show’s” Malcolm-Jamal Warner) who cheated on her — with a (gasp) white girl.
The awkward part is that Sherri keeps bumping into people familiar with her comedy appearances and telling her how terrific she is. Then again, one suspects that Sherri’s real and fictional versions share a fondness for those particular moments, which explains a lot about the show, beginning with its title.
Shepherd actually had a pretty decent sitcom resume (recurring on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Less Than Perfect”) before “The View” kicked in, but her higher profile notwithstanding, she’s limited as a performer in terms of carrying this sort of vehicle.
Still, the female banter (courtesy of writer Dave Flebotte, recently of “Desperate Housewives”) comes fast and sassy, the situations — infidelity, single motherhood, dating again — play like a compendium of daytime TV staples, the devout Shepherd and her pals actually pray together at work, and she brings built-in name recognition to the party.
So while “Sherri” doesn’t rock any better than “Rita” does, for Lifetime, that’s probably enough.