Last night Queta informed me of her intention to watch the new CBS sitcom “2 Broke Girls,” and I had no objections. I had heard (mildly) positive reviews of the pilot episode, and if you know anything about me, you know I’m alright with Kat Dennings. I didn’t really immerse myself in the show, as I was working on more important things on my computer (i.e. catching up on Twitter feuds, chatting on Facebook). But, as per usual, I was but a stone’s throw from the TV, and got the gist of most of the show and the jokes therein.
Verdict? Hoo boy. Someone send in a Navy SEAL airdrop to extract Kat Dennings from the situation, stat.
I told a friend of mine as the tragedy was occurring that it felt like a bad 80s sitcom, and I’ll break this thought into both parts, second part first. It was “80s” in that it had a traditional (painfully traditional) sitcom format. I’ve seen “Full House” episodes that were more experimental. Every line was either the setup to or punchline of a joke. I know that’s the stated function of a sitcom, but many other, better shows smoothed over the gaps in the setup-punchline schema, often by making the dialogue more conversational, or just having better actors. 2BG’s dialogue consistently had the following form:
Beth Behrs: “Blah blah blah, blah blah blah?”
Kat Dennings: “Blah blah blah… blah.” [laugh track]
It was so structured and forced, it was painful. They live in a small apartment in New York, but OMG! there’s a horse on their balcony for some reason. The horse isn’t even my issue here; if these 2 girls are so broke, how do they have an apartment in New York with a balcony?
And the “bad” part? Simple: none of the jokes were funny. Most every line landed with a thud, especially ones coming from the two (TWO) ethnic stereotypes on the show: the horny Russian cook at the restaurant where the two title women work, and the Asian manager at the same place. Srsly: if you’re offended by Ken Jeong’s Mr Chow from The Hangover II, your brain will explode with the manager on this show. His entire storyline on last night’s episode revolved around his inability to get a nametag properly made for the blonde girl. I think his big line of the night was, “I am THE MAN!” Ha.
Now, one of the running themes of the show seems to be an attack on young hipster culture. Here’s the problem with trying to hit “hipster culture”: you’re never gonna land it correctly, because the “in thing” is always changing, so by the time you put an episode together and air it, you’re already out of touch. But according to 2BG, hipsters appear to only be whiny people in hats. This may be true to some extent, but that sort of approach is picking some low-hanging fruit. And the show can’t even get the references correct. Witness this gem from the pilot episode (which – full disclosure – I didn’t watch):
I wear knit caps because it’s cold out, you wear knit caps because ColdPLAY.
When was Coldplay EVER a hipster band? Maybe the first month after Parachutes was released, maybe they could be considered a hipster band. Y’know, before they started playing STADIUMS, and fucking Gwyneth Paltrow, and dressing like an abandoned army unit from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Quick survey: find some acquaintances that could even vaguely be described as “hipster.” Count how many listen to Coldplay. Is it close to or exactly zero? There you go.
And the sad part is: I like Kat Dennings. Greatest actress ever? Not at all. But I’m OK with her, and she’s done much better work in much better material than this. (And I’m including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.) I don’t know what it is about this year, where last year’s indie darlings are headlining network shows this year (note Fox’s transformation into The Deschanel Network). It seems like a step down for them; this isn’t like taking a recurring role on Breaking Bad or something. But at least New Girl is SLIGHTLY less traditional. 2BG is one of the hackiest things I’ve seen in a while, and I’m counting 2 and a Half Men.
I didn’t even mention the part where the blonde rich girl falls into a pile of horse shit. Horse shit on their apartment balcony. From the horse that seems to live there. Never mind, the point is: we gave the show a shot, and it exceeded my wildest fears about how bad it could be. I laughed exactly never, and for a show based primarily on the idea of trying to make people laugh, such a perfect .000 average is frighteningly remarkable. If you’re bored on Monday nights, and all that’s on is this show, don’t. Find something on Netflix, or reorganize your bookshelves.
I guess Dennings wants a steady check? That’s all I can think of. At least Christina Ricci hasn’t fallen victim to this trend of young movie actresses going to TV…