September 27, 2011

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “2 Broke Girls”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.

Previously… on 2 BROKE GIRLS:  Max (Kat Dennings) is a street-smart waitress at a greasy spoon in Brooklyn.  Caroline (Beth Behrs) is the now-broke, formerly insanely rich daughter of a Bernie Madoff type, who until recently had been waited on hand and foot her entire life, her every wish indulged.  Now that Caroline has nothing to her name, she applies for a job working alongside Max.  They despise each other on sight, so is there any doubt they’ll be odd couple roommates by the time the pilot is over?  Also, Caroline discovers that Max bakes fantastic cupcakes, and she determines that the pair will make their fortune by selling them, just as soon as they’ve raised $250K in necessary capital.  And Caroline imports her horse to live in Max’s yard (every hovel having one of those).

Episode 2:  There was a significant behind-the-scenes change at 2 Broke Girls after the pilot was produced:  co-creator Whitney Cummings had her own sitcom picked up by NBC, so she had to reduce her involvement with the show (she’s now credited as Executive Consultant), and her creating partner Michael Patrick King (from Sex and the City) has taken over sole control.

Any hope that this would improve the quality of the writing, however, goes unfulfilled.  Here’s a sample line from tonight’s episode, a caution from Max when the Asian owner of the diner misspells Caroline’s name on her name-tag:  “You can’t tell an Asian he made a mistake–he’ll go in the back and fall on a sword.”  Then there’s the bit when Caroline asks Max to open the back door of the apartment and let in some fresh air, leading to this witty response:  “We’ve known each other 2 days and you’re already asking for back door?”  Ha HA.  

Kat Dennings is terrifically funny and has real star quality, so it’d be nice to root for 2 Broke Girls, but when the big sight gag of the episode is Caroline falling hands and chest-first into either horse manure or mud (no doubt CBS Standards made them keep it ambiguous, although you wouldn’t think it really could be), we’re not in very classy or smart territory.  To the extent there’s any attempt at credibility here, one would note that making Caroline act like she’s self-obsessed and brain-dead for virtually every beat of the episode (I doubt any actress could redeem the role of Caroline as written) and yet still asking us to believe that she’s some kind of business genius is really stretching it.  And thus far, none of the supporting cast is popping either, unless the diner cook who’s aroused to hear that Max masturbates strikes you as hilarious.

None of this means 2 Broke Girls is going to flop (although it’ll certainly fall off from last week’s 2 1/2 Men-boosted rating).  The show has the most comfortable spot on the CBS comedy schedule, between How I Met Your Mother and Men, so it’s likely to be around for a while.  The problem is, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Original Verdict:  Change the Channel

Pilot + 1:  Keep Clicking

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."