Review: ‘Betty White’s Off Their Rockers’ off its mark

Betty White attends the 57th Annual Writers Guild Awards at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, California on February 19, 2005. Lionel Hahn | Abaca Press | MCT

Betty White attends the 57th Annual Writers Guild Awards at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, California on February 19, 2005.

What do you get when you replace Ashton Kutcher in “Punk’d” with Betty White, his band of non-famous actors with even older non-famous actors, and celebrities with young people? You get “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” the new reality show on NBC that attempts to take “Punk’d” to a whole new level.

The reality show, which aired its second episode last Wednesday, April 4 (the pilot aired in January), follows a group of elderly actors (many of whom look familiar, but it’s hard to connect faces to actual older movies) who prank young, unsuspecting strangers. Vignettes of pranking moments run throughout the entire episode, while Betty White hosts the show with her own small skits.

The best moments of the show are when the senior actors are out on the street actually pranking younger individuals: One of the elderly men walks down the street followed by his powered wheelchair, one of the female actors talks loudly on her cell phone about needing the morning-after pill, another of the female actors asks a teenager to text her soon-to-be daughter-in-law that she’s a tramp, and yet another talks to a younger woman about her eventful trip to Las Vegas before putting on a nun’s veil and walking off. Humorous moments like these run throughout the show, but they often fall a bit flat.

White’s part in the show seems obviously integral due to her star power. Even though she recently turned 90, White is still going strong. Yet her hosting scenes in the show are forced and play down the hilarity of many other reality moments with the rest of the senior cast. In the pilot she opens with her funniest line: “Hugh Hefner may propose to 25-year-olds, but here we prank them!” At the end of the second episode, White needlepoints a pillow that says: “George Clooney Slept Here,” which sounds like it could be funny but ultimately fails to impress.

The show claims in its opening: “Warning: The following contains senior citizens pranking real unsuspecting young people. If you find this offensive … too bad.” Although it tries hard to be offensive in order to overturn stereotypes of senior citizens, it comes up short. Some moments are really funny, but unless they step up their game, I’m not so sure about the success of the show. Right now, it seems to be a trying a little bit too hard. Its saving grace is the general popularity of Betty White. Even though her scenes are forced, her continuing fame and incredible staying power will likely help the show to at least finish its first season. “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” airs on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on NBC.

  • Marilyn E.

    Dear Betty I’m 71 and my husband is 75.we watched your show last night and we haven’t laughed so hard in years. Cant wait till the next one comes on. I’ve always been a fan of yours and I’m addicted to the Golden Girls. This show is real humor.
    Not like most of the corn ball humor today. Keep up the good work and keep your sense of humor. Your awesome!

  • kim

    Betty and your friends need to think about a nursing home so you can prank each other. Very disrespective to not only your children but your grand kids. This is not a funny show. Can you and the elders spell NURSING HOME and MEDICATION!

  • Jessica F

    You guys are far too serious, lighten up a bit! We need more laughter in life! I am 38 and I find Betty White hilarious, maybe that’s why she has lived to 90, because she is young at heart and not an uptight cranky old lady! Rock on Betty! Do your thing sweetheart!

  • Lisa kimyoung

    Im 68 and I love this show it gives me the laughter I have longed for and my 33 year old son and his friends come over every Weds to watch this show, we love it.

  • ann

    think it needs to be moved to showtime..its in a time slot that reaches young viewers and i for one..i am 65 think it was disgusting.no wonder this countries morals are so low shame on you Betty

    • lucy

      I agree. I know 7 more people who won’t be watching her show anymore. She crossed the line. Was so excited before. Had so much respect for her and thought her husband would be proud. It doesn’t need to be garbage. The decent shows are the ones that lasts.

      • Mrs. T

        @ lucy….I so agree. Betty used to be respected, now she is up there, or rather “down” there with the garbage sitcoms of trashy tv. You might oughta look into what you are going to tell God about your trashy tv life, Betty White!!!

    • Mrs. T

      @ Ann…I agree. Shame on you betty. How low can you go…????