June 14, 2011



Disclaimer:  Network pilots now in circulation are not necessarily in the form that will air in the Fall.  Pilots are often reedited and rescored, and in some cases even recast or reshot.  So these critiques shouldn’t be taken as full TV pilot reviews, but rather as a guide to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.
2 BROKE GIRLS –  Monday 8:30PM on CBS:  If Nothing Else Is On…

Kat Dennings deserves a better vehicle than 2 BROKE GIRLS.  Dennings is one of those magnetic performers who can hold a complex of emotions just behind her eyes; she was superb in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the indie Daydream Nation, although wide audiences will probably recognize her mostly from her dozen quippy lines as Natalie Portman’s sidekick in Thor.  Here at least she gets to be the lead, albeit in a creaky sitcom that barely makes it intact to the last commercial break. 

Dennings is of course one of the broke girls, a smart-mouthed big-city lass named Max who waits tables at a greasy spoon diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I ask this as a native of Brooklyn:  a greasy spoon diner across the street from a theatre where Arcade Fire is playing?  No one got the gentrification memo?) and also works days as a nanny.  Into her life, thanks to contrivance level high even by network sitcom standards, comes Caroline (Beth Behrs), the daughter of someone whose name is fictionalized but who’s clearly meant to be Bernie Madoff–she grew up a billionairess, but now that her financier dad is behind bars, she’s penniless and needs to make a living.  Max treats her with disdain at first, but of course by the time the pilot is over, they’re the bestest of friends, not to mention roommates and business partners (Max bakes cupcakes).

OK, fine:  mismatched roomies are a sitcom staple, and once the pilot is done, no one really cares how they had to be pushed together.  But the script is mostly witless, something of a shock since it’s co-written by Whitney Cummings, the season’s “It Girl” with her own simultaneous NBC sitcom, and Michael Patrick King, shepherd of Sex and the City (Cummings will have a minimal amount to do with the series going forward, due to her Whitney duties).  It’s hard to believe the dialogue here was the best that pair could do:  when Max touches the shoulder of a sleeping Caroline, who lashes out with a tazer, Caroline explains “I thought I was being raped!” leading to Max’s retort:  “That’s not what rape feels like!”  Or when Max strands Caroline to serve that crowd of Arcade Fire fans alone, the diner cashier (Garrett Morris) advises her:  “You might as well be a cheerleader waking up drunk in the locker room at Duke University–you’re screwed!”  Or, in order to let us know that the woman Max nannies for (Brooke Lyons), is an airhead, they have her say of Caroline’s situation:  “Can you imagine having no money?  I mean, you wouldn’t even have any money!”  I mean… ouch.

Despite having to deal with the heavy lifting of this kind of material, Dennings is likable and funny.  Behrs is harder to judge; there are suggestions in the pilot that Caroline is shrewder than she looks, but mostly the character is just one-note dumb.  No one else in the cast really registers–there’s a lecherous Russian cook and an Asian-American manager (named Bryce Lee–haw!) at the diner. James Burrows, the living legend of multi-camera sitcoms (his credits include the pilots for Friends, Taxi, Will & Grace, and scores of others), delivers a smoothly professional product, but nothing that elevates the content. 

CBS has given 2 Broke Girls its post-How I Met Your Mother slot, which is their prime real estate for shows that skew relatively young by the network’s standards.  Mitch Metcalf’s Monday projections have it a strong second in the hour, behind Dancing With the Stars but ahead of FOX’s much-touted Terra Nova.  (The risk of such a strong lead-in is that even a decent rating may be problematic if the show squanders too much of Mother‘s numbers.)  I root for the series to get better… or if it can’t manage that, at least stay out of its star’s way.

Read more about TV’s new shows at THE SKED PILOT REPORT.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."