Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Returning Shows: 2 Broke Girls (Turns Out, You Can Polish This)

I almost wasn’t going to write this one. You see, last year I watched the pilot for 2 Broke Girls and freaked out because the title gave a false impression of what broke meant. And given that at the time of writing I was, in fact, super broke (as in, living off of rice and apples and literally nothing else for three weeks broke), it pissed me off a little.

But, I watched the beginning of this season anyways. It was okay. Still a little racist, still relying way too heavily on the Max-is-incredibly-horny jokes, and still not quite as funny as I want it to be, but I suddenly have hope. I think this show is getting better.

I don’t think it’s getting better immediately or on a scale visible to the human eye, but it is improving. Consider this: last season, the jokes regarding various characters were mean spirited gags involving either their race or their sexual habits. It was pretty depressing. 

Now, the jokes still usually involve race or sexual habits, but they don’t feel as mean. Everything’s toned down a lot. You get the impression that the people on this show actually kind of like each other. They may take the piss, but it’s in a loving way. The I-can-beat-you-up-but-no-one-else-is-allowed way. And can I just say that it's wonderful to watch a show where the women are arguing about money, not men?

I think it’s sweet.

Once you get through the first season, a lot of things start to gel into place. Finally, you get to a point where the cast starts to click with each other. There are inside jokes. Or, alternately and in the case of The X Files there is outright hatred. But either way they get to know each other. Their acting gets solid. The chemistry is down.

The writers get used to the way the actors say their lines and the jokes get a lot better as a result. Storylines get tighter. They’ve used up the obvious ones, and now they’re just starting to scratch the surface of how cool this premise can get.

In a way, though it definitely wasn’t quite there, this episode was what it looks like when 2 Broke Girls hits its stride. You had a basic central conflict: Caroline and Max had to go to Caroline’s estate sale (which would be humiliating) in order to bid on a trophy of Caroline’s that had money hidden in the bottom. 

It has conflict on a couple of levels. There’s Caroline’s reluctance to go back and see her old life broken up and sold. There’s Max’s difficulty with the idea of spending money to get money. And there’s the girls’ disappointment when they discover that they were wrong, and there isn’t anything in the trophy. It’s just a trophy.

There’s also a really interesting subplot involving Max coming to understand why Caroline’s dad (a riff on Bernie Madoff) did what he did. The girls go visit him in prison, and it’s clear that he still cares for his daughter. It’s also clear that Max would totally jump his bones, which is funny until it’s not. His reasons for having them get the trophy are actually pretty good, and it was nice to see the show take a quick detour through heartfelt before rounding back to snark station.

I do wonder a bit if the new found maturity on the show is a result of less meddling from the two producers, Whitney Cummings (of the much maligned Whitney) and Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City, much maligned by me). But I have absolutely no proof for this, and my friend in production at CBS has signed all these pesky NDAs, so really I have no idea.

But it’s something to think about.

2 Broke Girls airs on Mondays at 9pm on CBS.

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