Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pilot Season: 2 Broke Girls (Or, NO. YOU'RE NOT. STOP LYING.)

Women who wait tables, cook and scheme. Viva la revolucion!
Oh right.  Pilots.  I wasn’t done reviewing those.  Back into the breach, then.  Though I am starting to suspect that we’ve reached the end of the road here.  While there are some more shows that I missed, and a few of them are even decent, none of them seem to have anything new to say.  They’re not revolutionizing television for women, except that women are the leads.  And in most of these cases, that's not shocking.  Women as the leads in fantasy soaps?  Shut the front door.  A dramedy about romance and life in the fictional South?  Edgy.  Women cops.  Moms with ungrateful daughters.  Girls who need money.*

Which brings us to today.

2 BROKE GIRLS (Mondays at 8:30 EST)

It’s a decent enough show, I guess.


Max (Kat Dennings), who plays to every single bad girl with daddy issues/trailer trash stereotype you like to pretend you don’t have, is one of the titular broke girls.  She’s sarcastic and funny, and not too hard to relate to as a character, even if she is a little one note in her hatred of everything.  The other broke girl is Carolyn (played by some blonde chick who isn’t Kat Dennings).  She’s not!Bernie Madoff’s daughter, forced to actually work for a living when not!Bernie Madoff is sent to jail for ripping off all of New York.  Gasp.

Nope. Not contrived at all.
So, yeah, the plot is super contrived.  In the first episode alone, Carolyn manages to get a job at the diner where Max works, weasel her way into staying at Max’s apartment, break up Max’s relationship with her boyfriend, and convince Max to invest so that they can start a cupcake business someday.  Oh, yeah, Max makes cupcakes that we are informed repeatedly are super good.  Wheeee.

But this is not my problem with the show.  It’s a sitcom, I will allow it its quirks and silliness.  No, what I freaking hate is that this show is based on a faulty premise.

These girls aren’t broke.

1. They both have a job.  Max has two jobs.  Both of them pretty freaking decent.  She’s a waitress, sure, but she seems to make really good tips, and during the day she works as a nanny for a rich upper-east side lady.  It may be demeaning, but nannying pays really well.  She even sells cupcakes on the side.  So, no, not broke.  Not rich, by any means, but she’s doing okay.

2. Max’s apartment is not a broke person’s apartment.  No, this isn’t Friends where the unreality was grating and obnoxious, but it’s still not the apartment of a person who must go on and on about how broke they are all the time.  It has a large living room, nice kitchen, bedroom, decent bath, and a yard.

3. MAX’S APARTMENT HAS A YARD.  I’m not sure where in New York the writers for this series smoked crack, but that’s not how the apartments of the broke work.  Let me explain.  In cities (most cities, LA is a bad example), the broker you are, the further you are from nature.  Reach a certain level of broke, and you do not see nature for months.  Of course, if you go past that, you get into redneck/hobo territory, and then it’s all nature all the time, but that’s another thing.  The point is, NO BROKE PERSON HAS A YARD.  A HOVEL YES, A YARD NO.

4. Broke people do not go out to bars, restaurants or for coffee all the time.  They just don’t.

5. Broke people do not save money.  Not because they won’t or they’re terrible at it, or that’s why they’re broke in the first place.  BROKE PEOPLE DON’T SAVE MONEY BECAUSE IF THEY DID, THEY WOULDN’T BE BROKE ANYMORE.  If you’re broke, you’re living paycheck to paycheck, if that, barely managing to scrape up enough for your bills.  Or you’re not, and you’re going into debt.  You are not saving hundreds of dollars every week towards your future dream of owning a cupcake business.  Because if you’re truly broke, you’re using that money to pay your rent.

And I think that’s where the show got me.  Fine.  Max is a waitress in the worst, most racially insensitive restaurant in the world.  Whatever, her apartment has a yard.  Okay, she is apparently a cupcake wizard.  But broke?  Oh honey.  No.

And then there’s Carolyn.  She of the “I went to Wharton Business School” can’t find a better job than bussing tables in the Racial Insensitivity Diner, or a better economic investment than Max’s wizard cupcakes?  Hell no.  Get a real job, honey.  You know you’re qualified.  If you still feel like you owe Max after you’ve gotten a position as business manager of some shoe retailer, or at a giant faceless corporation, invest in her then, but stop pretending that waitressing and cupcakes is all you’ve got, because it isn’t.  And it’s pretty insulting.

When it gets down to it, 2 Broke Girls did nothing for me.  There’s a little rage, but mostly, I’m just numb.  These aren’t new characters, it’s not a new premise, the setting’s older than dirt, and even a generous sprinkling of vagina jokes can’t save this show from feeling like what it is: a modern retread of the same old story, with a few punched up lines along the way. 

I should relate to these girls.  I know I’m their target audience.  I’m young, broke, subletting a room in a little apartment in the big city, scrimping and saving to do what I love.  I’m broke.  I should look at them and go, “Yes.  That’s me.”

But I really, really don’t.

Maybe if there were something to them besides their (misleading) financial situation.  Some glimmer of heart or depth or actual proof that someone involved in making this show cared about more than their paycheck (except for Kat Dennings, who hits every line like it owes her money, but can’t carry it all herself).  It’s doesn’t offend me so much as it just doesn’t do anything for me.  It’s numb, like Liz Lemon slipping into a Dennis-coma, I can’t feel anything below my neck.

And seriously, that is not something you want people to say about your tv show.


*The shows just mentioned are as follows: The Secret Circle and Once Upon a Time, Hart of Dixie, Unforgettable, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, and, of course, 2 Broke Girls.

[Note: Still to come out are two shows that I actually have some hope for.  Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 and Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea both have potential to be scathing, funny, and incisive looks at modern womanhood.  But, like I said, neither is out yet.  Booooo.]


  1. The racism on this show is so offensive that it doubles back and isn't offensive anymore. It's just really bad.

    I'm definitely a real broke girl. I'm on food stamps. All I have is a part-time job. I rent a room in the house my parents (they are both on social security) can barely pay the rent on. I take extra napkins from fast food joints in case we run out of toilet paper. I can't pass up free stuff on curbs. I eye dumpsters with longing because I really want to dumpster dive (believe in that whole "one person's trash is another's treasure", you wouldn't believe the amount of stuff people throw away) but it's illegal. I constantly search the free section on Craigslist. The thrift store and the pawn shop are my favorite stores. I never paid more than $5 for an article of clothing with $1 being the average except when I'm yard sale shopping, then 50 cents is the average. I often take a lunch bag (it looks a little like a purse and has tons of storage) to work because co-workers often bring in food and there's no way I'm not taking that home. If I was injured I'd have someone drive me to the hospital instead of calling 911 because ambulance bills are really expensive (haven't paid the $2,000 I accrued in medical bills at 18 since if I had 2 grand I'm not giving it away). I buy my hygiene products from the dollar store. My two splurges are collecting books and tv shows on DVD but I get the books secondhand (about 25-50 cents each) and only buy the tv shows when they are on sale (I have over 200 seasons, bought them for around $2-$20 each with the average price being $10). I pick up every single coin I find on the ground. I used my tax return money to buy my laptop and cellphone. I don't have cable or Netflix (waiting until I get a flatscreen which won't be until I can find a way to save enough to buy one on Black Friday or wait until next year's tax return). Constantly have yard sales to make enough for whatever emergency happened that week.

    Yeah, I don't believe most shows that claim to have broke characters. Shameless did a pretty good job actually. The whole family chipped in, they went from paycheck to paycheck, had help from the government, did sidejobs, had the electricity/water shut off constantly, weren't able to put anything aside, etc.

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