(3 of 3)
The Sarah Silverman Program plays off that tension--darkness and childlike naiveté--hilariously, although in a lighter-spirited way. The show has a loose, familiar, indie feel, in part because Silverman's real sister Laura plays her TV sister, the rest of the cast are longtime friends (along with her dog), and the pilot was shot in her apartment, which was re-created on a set for the series after, Silverman says, her landlord kicked the production out.
But filming without permission was a mild liberty to take by the standards of fictional Sarah. "I'm just like you," she chirps over the opening credits. "I don't have a job, and my sister pays my rent." In a typical episode, she has brunch with her friends, sticks them with the bill and gets into bizarre scrapes because of her constant need for attention (especially her sister's); her clueless insensitivity to minorities, the disabled and the elderly; and her penchant for drinking cough syrup while driving.
And yet for all Sarah's narcissism, neediness and sociopathy, she's also sympathetic and genuinely wants to be a good person. She's really an overgrown child--another type that male comics usually favor. In one bouncy musical number, she sings, "I always never cry/ And I've always wondered why/ I always have to watch myself when I go pee." The show lets the confession that she can't cry hang there without elaboration, but it suggests a pathos to the character that goes beyond pee jokes. "In music or poetry or movies, I'm a fan of heartbreak," Silverman says. "I think most of my stand-up is either silly, gratuitous bathroom humor or is heartbreaking, if you break it down by subject matter."
The Sarah Silverman Program may just be the closest that boutique cable comedy comes to a date movie: a little heartbreak for her, a little peepee humor for him. Silverman doesn't like to speculate on the show's gender appeal: "I just like to think of myself as a comic." But she may have ended up unwittingly rebutting Christopher Hitchens the best way possible: by having, and getting, the last laugh.