2 Broke Girls: Season 1, Episode 1
As it stands now, 2 Broke Girls is a sitcom in the worst sense of the word. Created by Michael Patrick King, the mind behind Sex and the City, this is a show that has all of the shallow characterization and puns that sitcom haters ascribe to every show of this genre and then some. Everyone in this episode is a type, and none of them have even the smallest sense of characterization beyond that. The best of the bunch is Max (Kat Dennings), a streetwise cynic who is unabashedly "dead inside." By the end of the episode we know that she has self-confidence issues, and that she is acerbic, which means we know two things about her, neither of which sets her apart as an individual. That beats anyone else the episode offers up.
The premise of the series isn't necessarily a bad one, but this pilot also doesn't give me much confidence that it will use its premise well. Max works in a diner with a bunch of ethnic stereotypes, including an Asian owner now going by Bryce Lee (Matthew Moy), a standard "hep cat" maitre d' (a woefully underused Garrett Morris, who can be funny, but almost assuredly won't be here) and a horny cook who hits on the girls. then in walks Caroline (Beth Behrs), a now broke heiress whose father is a thinly veiled Bernie Madoff joke. I was a little unfair in the last paragraph, because by the end of the episode, we also know two things about Caroline: she is like every other disenfranchised rich girl character ever to appear in a pilot (think Rachel on Friends mixed with a Paris Hilton vibe that Behrs doesn't seem to want to shake), and she also has a heap of business acumen after attending the Wharton School.
The real hook that 2 Broke Girls tries to put in viewers is just how crass it can be. The show clearly wants to "push the envelope" for network sitcoms (especially the usually tame, mostly for retirees crowd at CBS), but there are several problems with this. First off, envelope pushing just doesn't work on network TV anymore. If viewers want to watch an "edgy" show, HBO, Showtime, or any number of cable channels can give them something with a lot more teeth and a lot filthier a sense of humor than 2 Broke Girls will ever be able to get past the censors. Second of all, its ideas about twenty-something culture seem three to five years outdated, which is unsurprising considering King is middle aged and co-creator Whitney Cummings is well settled into her 30's. But most importantly, the show's idea of a dirty joke leaves the joke part wanting. Sure, Max makes a joke about her vagina being dried up, and there's a joke about a semen stain on Caroline's new uniform, but they aren't the kind of jokes that make you laugh; they're more the kind that make you cringe. As an example, in one scene, Max's sleezy boyfriend is hitting on Caroline, and pins her up against an overflowing sink. "You're getting me wet," she says. "That's the point," he replies. And we all wince in the audience.
I won't mince words here: 2 Broke Girls is a bad pilot. But, as I always point out in these things, it is just a pilot, and there is some potential here, however unlikely it is that it will be realized. Kat Dennings is an immensely charming screen presence, and seeing as she's playing exactly into her type, she should be able to ring some laughs out of this show down the line. And her chemistry with Behrs (who comes across as too stereotypical to really register here, but will likely improve with time) is enjoyable enough that I could see it developing. The rest of the characters are just atrocious, but perhaps with time they will become less stereotypical and more realistic (look how that worked out over on Glee...it didn't). Most importantly, though, I have to give the show credit for introducing a masterplot that actually has some legs. In the episode's closing minutes, Caroline hatches a scheme for her and Max to open up a bakery to sell Max's apparently delicious cupcakes, and sets a goal for the two to raise $250,000 to do it. The episode's closing shot gives their current total: $387. This is a pilot that didn't make me laugh once, but that is an idea that belongs on a better sitcom. Let's hope that the pilot of 2 Broke Girls is an anomaly, and that this becomes that better sitcom. After tonight, though, I'm not holding my breath.
-This is the pitter-patter of jokes that the show tries to pass off as comedy: "Are you sure we can't get that meth addict back? She was really good at cleaning." "But her teeth fell out." "You're so judgmental."
-Another example: "Oh my god you've been robbed." "It always looks like this." "Oh my god too cute!"
-This one actually made me crack a smile: "Oh you have a yard...It looks like a nice place to relax and do crack." "It is."
Tags: 2 Broke Girls