CBS Monday: 2 Broke Girls

I’m not quite sure what kind of show 2 Broke Girls thinks it is, but it’s doing a good job of destroying what little it has going for it.

The biggest problem so far is the writing. The first act of last night’s episode was dull. It barely managed to surpass high school play. I can not say enough horrible things about it. The acting was bad. The jokes were worse.

Horsoscope? No. That guy needs to be fired.

Another rape joke? Three of the first four episodes have had a rape joke in them. It’s not edgy. It’s sad. It’s like the writers have no idea what subtlety means. They learned everything about comedy by watching the last five minutes of a Gallagher special. Instead of a sledgehammer and a watermelon, they have rape.

The second act picked up a bit. Max’ jealous respect at Caroline’s opulent living conditions actually added another, much-needed, layer to their relationship. It was a fleeting moment, and one that seemed a little out of place given that Max has seen a bit of wealthy living from her nanny gig.

Most of the problems with show center around Max.

I like Kat Dennings, but the acting hasn’t been great. I don’t really blame her, as the writing hasn’t been very helpful. If New Girl’s Jess is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, then Max is a Bitchy Nightmarish Harpy.

I believe the idea was to create an angry indie girl who “tells it like it is,” but Max crosses that line leaving likability far behind. She craps all over Caroline at every turn. In fact, if there wasn’t a laugh track to tell us the lines were meant to be humorous, it would enter the realm of verbal abuse.

The only people Max seems to get along with are black cashiers. All that does is remind me of a line from season one of Community – not being racist is the new racism.

And while I’m thinking about it, Kat’s teeth bother me. It looks like she’s been eating Oreos before every take. I hate to be nitpicky, but once you notice it, you can’t not notice it.

If the show is to survive, the writers have to quit forcing their desired tone on the show. I know they want edgy indie anger, but that’s not where the characters want to go. Caroline wants to work for something and gain a real friend. Max wants to be a girl and gain real family.

Two things have worked so far. Caroline is not the stereotypical useless rich socialite I expected. She has had little difficulty adapting to her new life. She’s hit the ground running. Sure, it makes no sense that a business school graduate can’t get a nice paying job despite her father’s reputation, but we can overlook the clumsily established premise.

The other thing that works is Max’ femininity. It creeps out in small doses when she isn’t yelling or insulting everything around her. She quickly adopted Chestnut as her own horse. Her desire to bathe in Caroline’s tub was a nice touch, too.

These are organic details that result from layered characters. They are the reasons that an audience will keep watching a show. Forcing bad rape jokes into a mediocre script is not the way to produce a good show.

I’m not sure why, but someone at CBS thinks they’re producing good comedies. I’m sure they do well on Monday nights, but they’re also the only sitcoms on network TV at those times. How long will it be before the other networks realize CBS’ Monday night line-up is beatable?

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