Considering the problem of 2 Broke Girls

2 Broke Girls is in reruns for a week or two which means we won’t have our usual episode recaps. So let’s take a moment to reflect on the first 10 episodes and think about two things: 1) why is the show’s seemingly anachronistic style of sitcomy, ba-dum-bump joke delivery and ghoulishly tired racial/ethnic/hipster jokes a mega hit across America (pulling in 11 million viewers for last-night’s rerun)?; and 2) why does it burrow under the skin of so many of us living the actual broke in Brooklyn lifestyle like so much laugh-tracked scabies? I mean, it’s just a primetime sitcom on the same station that gave Charlie Sheen all that drug money, and they would never sell ads if it were actually a mumblecore vérité depiction of people living ten-to-a-loft in Bushwick or something, right? So why act so disappointed?

The opinions we’ve heard range from thinking Kat Dennings could do better with her career (she’s so good in 40 Year Old Virgin!) to feeling that it’s a wasted opportunity with a topic that’s funny enough without the Asian jokes; to the idea that the show is just propagating lazy tropes about being young and living in New York City that makes Middle America see us, as Jim Behrle of The Awl put it, as “unicorns in knit hats.”

My one thought: the characters just don’t seem to like Brooklyn very much, as seen in that clip above. Max lives in Williamsburg and slags it off all the time, never once thinking about how Brooklyn is one of the only places you could try to open an artisanal cupcake business and be met with eager supporters. It’s like they got sentenced here in some sort of Bake for America program in the inner city but would rather be living in suburban Maryland. Max seems so caught up in her hatred for fellow ‘burgers, she can’t focus on getting her life together. Which then makes her the worst kind of hipster: the kind that’s so devoid of sincerity she can’t realize all those “posers” around her in the coffee shop are all probably working instead of snarking the day away. (Side note to the writers of that scene: While I do know a girl named Sammar, I don’t know anyone who would still appreciate a Battlefield Earth joke).

While you think about that, catch up with what you’ve missed so far this season with recaps of the first 10 episodes from Ariel Karlin and Meghan Doherty, and take a read on Meghan Lewitt’s story in The Atlantic about what television writers don’t get about Brooklyn.

7 Comment

  • I dunno. I lived in and lovedhated Williamsburg too and think that the jokes and writing are pretty accurate…

  • “Sammar” can’t act her way out of a coffee mug, but the scene was mildly funny, no? Putting aside the total Brooklyn fail, anyway. Good piece, Tim.

  • This show is hysterical only in how many things it gets wrong.  I live in Greenpoint and my unfair stereotypes of my neighborhood are way funnier than theirs.  Are the cupcakes vegan?  Gluten-free?  Made by Ethiopian immigrants out of recycled paper?  I mean come on are we a cesspool of crime or a playground for pretentiousness trust fund pseudo-intellectuals?  Because that girl in dreads shouldn’t have been so hippie-dippy.  She should have had a Masters degree in Business and Economics and been able to tell them about how their marketing was all wrong. 

  • They’re obviously painting the city with a broad brush using primary colors, which they have to do to appeal to The Rest of America. I’m not entirely convinced anyone on the show has ever stepped foot on this side of the East River. 

    Conversely, Bored to Death is so insider to Brooklyn, I can’t believe anyone else in the country can even stand to watch it, but it’s a hit for HBO. Friends in South Carolina tell me they never miss an episode. It gets a tenth of the ratings of 2BG, but HBO doesn’t seem to mind.

  • People who are actually from Brooklyn, not hipsters who are usually not, always have a love/hate relationship with this city and make fun of hipsters.  I think her sarcasm is perfect and typical for a native NYer, as well as her loathing and making fun of hipsters.

  • Another great point coming from the view of a fellow Brooklynite. 

    Don’t let me get started on the aesthetic and casting choices, whether they have any chemistry or use for the two leads or super-narrative. No one actually likes my/our borough on this show. The only “fun” shown or appreciated by both leads is riding a 5-figure horse?!

    While I read the article you linked, please to you all, dear author, readers and commentors, please read Emily Nausbaum’s New Yorker article on 2BG and WHITNEY. A lead-in piece to your companion post: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/television/2011/11/28/111128crte_television_nussbaum?currentPage=all