May 13, 2013



Even with the nonstop double (sometimes barely single) entendres, 2 BROKE GIRLS is as basic and old-fashioned as a sitcom can be–it’s sort of a starter kit for CBS comedy.  Take 2 mismatched diner co-workers/roommates/business partners (Kat Dennings as streetsmart Max and Beth Behrs as once-wealthy Caroline), mix with a wacky boss and fellow employees (Matthew Moy as Han, the former; Jonathan Kite as Oleg and Garrett Morris as Earl, the latter) and one breakout character neighbor (Jennifer Coolidge as Sophie), then stir.

Unlike the more ambitious comedies on other networks (and even those, like How I Met Your Mother, on CBS itself), 2 Broke Girls barely troubles itself with plot.  Most episodes are genuinely situation comedy–Max and Caroline hire an intern, try to help an aspiring stand-up comic, visit a psychic, interfere with a TV show shooting in the diner–that arise from the contrivance of the week.  There were only two story developments in Season 2:  the opening (and then the closing) of the pair’s cupcake shop, and more or less simultaneous with that, Caroline’s brief romance with a candy store owner who had a neighboring shop.  Apart from those, the show was strictly concerned with the duo’s adventure of the week.

2 Broke Girls doesn’t have any real structure to prop it up, so it’s dependent on the charm of the performers, who have to deliver lines like “She feels smothered?  Have you ever tried motorboating those cans of hers?” and “It’s so humid and damp in here–now I know how balls feel.”  This they do in a goodnatured, accomplished way, led by Dennings, who can make obnoxiousness winning–even her many Asian barbs aimed at Han seem amiable.  The enormously likable Dennings really deserves better than this and playing the 4th sidekick from the left in the next Thor movie, and one hopes that before the show leaves the air, she’ll find it.  2 Broke Girls has even found an appropriate place for Coolidge’s particular brand of super-extravagant comedy (she’s like a drag queen playing a drag queen–with a Polish accent).

Since this was the season finale, something actually happened in tonight’s episode (written by series co-creator Michael Patrick King and directed by Phill Lewis), namely a set-up for next season, as the girls found an empty space next to the diner that can serve as version 2.0 of their cupcake store.  Strictly from a series logistical point of view, this makes sense–having their store in a separate location meant separating those scenes from the diner, but now all the characters will be able to roam from one location to the other–and it will provide some variation to the workplace scenes.

2 Broke Girls does its sort of thing with enough verve and snappy timing that it more or less works, but there are limits to its appeal, and this season the show hit them.  Moved by CBS to the 9PM Monday anchor slot vacated by 2 1/2 Men, it was supposed to grow into that show’s 3+ rating level of success.  Instead, it’s gone backwards, in recent weeks not even the most successful CBS show of the night as it fell behind How I Met Your Mother into the mid-2s.  The show is what it is, and it’s not likely to change or get much bigger than its current level, unless it’s moved behind a more established hit (we’ll find out in a few days if CBS keeps it in place or not).  Still, a mid-2 level comedy is something FOX would love to have and NBC would kill for, so the Broke Girls earn their pay.  It may be TV furniture made in a shop class, but it’s sturdy enough.


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."