September 25, 2012



2 BROKE GIRLS:  Monday 9PM on CBS

WHERE WE WERE:  At a Brooklyn diner, where Max (Kat Dennings) is a loudmouth waitress from the streets, and Caroline (Beth Behrs) is a former Manhattan socialite, down on her luck since her father was arrested for Madoff-like swindles; in the logic of TV comedy, naturally the two have become roomies and besties.  They associate with an assortment of over-the-top types, including elderly cashier Earl (Garrett Morris), Korean manager Han (Matthew Moy), Russian cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite), and Polish neighbor Sophie (Jennifer Coolidge).  Oh, and Max and Caroline are trying to start up a cupcake business together.

WHERE WE ARE:  Same place.  In last year’s season finale, there was the hint that a fleeting contact with Martha Stewart might get the cupcake business going, but no mention of that tonight.  In the 2d season premiere, written by Co-Executive Producer Michelle Nader and directed by Fred Savage, the main development was that we finally met Caroline’s swindler father (guest star Steven Weber) in a jailhouse visit, causing Max to uncharacteristically swoon and both girls to temporarily think they were getting some of his hidden riches when he told them to bid on a particular item at an auction of the family property. No such luck, as it turned out.

2 BROKE GIRLS is a more risque version–if “risque” adequately describes gags about golden showers–of the classic sitcom trope of madcap women who bicker and get into misadventures while always having each other’s back, a tradition that dates all the way to I Love Lucy and through Laverne & Shirley to Sex & the City.  With the latter show’s Michael Patrick Hall and Whitney‘s Whitney Cummings as the reigning braintrust, it’s the opposite of subtle, and the ethnic and bawdy punchlines can induce some cringing.  Occasionally, though, the writing hits a note of weirdness that has to make you laugh, as when Sophie tonight suddenly delivered a monologue about the dead twin she wouldn’t stop clutching even after birth.  (The show also gets credit for finding a context wherein Jennifer Coolidge’s titanic style of comedy manages to fit right in.)

Mostly, though, Girls has Kat Dennings, whom it’s deservedly made a star.  She punches every suggestive line with the crack timing of early 1980s Bette Midler, and she radiates warmth and likability while she’s doing it.  In the jailhouse scenes with Weber tonight, she shifted from flirtatiousness to silly paranoia to compassion when Caroline’s father broke her heart once again, all without any visible effort.  Girls is only occasionally worthy of Dennings’ talent, and it’s lucky to have her.

This is a huge year for 2 Broke Girls, which has been promoted in just its 2nd season to being the anchor of CBS’s all-important Monday sitcom line-up.  The series is already a solid hit, but if it can have the kind of success 2 1/2 Men enjoyed in that slot, it’ll be a network mainstay for years to come.  That triumph, if it comes, will largely belong to Dennings.


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."