If nothing else, TLC deserves a “chutzpah” award for promoting “Leave It to Niecy” as the first “docu-sitcom,” having apparently missed “The Simple Life” and innumerable other celebrity-oriented examples in the decade since. A comic and actress, Niecy Nash (“Reno 911”) has morphed into a reality-TV staple, from “Dancing With the Stars” to her made-for-TLC wedding to Jay Tucker last June. If it works, this latest iteration of her newfound career — blending their families in carefully plotted, semi-scripted, always-public fashion — ought to have comedy writers drinking Maalox from the bottle.
About all that’s missing from “Leave It to Niecy” (aside from jokes about replacing “The Beaver”) is “Wah wah” sounds to punctuate the direct-to-camera interviews with Nash, Tucker, their kids (three hers, one his), and her mother.
Structured like a sitcom, the opening back-to-back episodes feature Niecy trying to come up with bonding exercises for the family, which the children resist; and Niecy scheduling a mammogram in order to coerce Jay to get a knot on his back checked out.
As a comic, Nash has a certain flair for delivering dialogue no doubt discussed at length with producers, even if there are no official writers credited on the show. But the banality of the situations and the cheekiness of the teenage kids only proves that modeling actual family life after TV comedies from the 1990s has serious limitations.
“We gonna have fun, if it kills every last person in this car,” Niecy proclaims as she seeks to prod her kids into a roller-skating excursion.
A “B” plot, such as it is, involves Niecy urging her mother to begin dating. Like the kids, their grandma dutifully hits her mark, though everyone would probably benefit from dialing back the eye-rolling.
TLC hasn’t broken any ground with “Niecy,” but it has found a way to get into comedy on the cheap. And while one can see a modest audience tuning in for Nash’s larger-than-life antics, it’s difficult to imagine what the “story producers” do for an encore beyond eight episodes.
“A family without a hobby sucks!” Niecy declares, as the kids reject her efforts to find a collective activity. Turns out a family without a formal writing staff does, too.