2 Broke Girls: Flush With Smarts

2 Broke Girls S01E17: "And the Kosher Cupcakes"

I tend to have a love-hate relationship with sitcoms. I was a serious child, and humor for the sake of humor didn’t amuse me. I don’t know what my problem was, I was just a really solemn kid. Like, did-a-book-report-on-The-Diary-of-Anne-Frank-in-second-grade-and-fully-understood-the-material solemn. Definitely the weird kid. In retrospect, rather than hail me as some sort of precocious child-scribe, I probably would have benefited from my teachers handing me a nice Dr. Seuss book, but the bright, cartoonish pages stopped holding my interest around the time The Cat in the Hat made its reading circle debut.

If it’s meant to be lighthearted, it can’t possibly be poignant, right? Wrong-o, I say to my snooty, bookish second-grade self.

Sitcoms can be really timely and groundbreaking, like I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H, All in the Family, The Cosby Show. They can also be smarter than a lot of people give them credit for, a la CBS's 2 Broke Girls.

2 Broke Girls gets a lot of flak for the things that it does wrong and not nearly enough love for the things that it does right. Sure, the show can be absolutely crass at times. It astounds me that we’re allowed to say “vagina” at 8:30pm on a Monday night on network television. And I don’t mean that in a prudish way; I think it’s fantastic. Vag, vagina, va-jay-jay: These are not dirty words. Yes, this is the day and age where Janet Jackson flashes the camera during halftime and the Super Bowl is forever ruined. But it was a boob, folks, not a desecrated corpse. Let's not get too worked up about it.

One of the things that 2 Broke Girls consistently does right is illustrate the idea that one does not have to be painted by the same brush as her family. In this sense, humor can also be healing.

My family is future-Lifetime-Movie-of-the-Week screwed up. And that's one of the reasons why 2 Broke Girls absolutely tickles me. Max constantly alludes to her own fabulously messed-up family, often through the use of deadpan one-liners—like last night's “We’re not family until we testify against one another in a manslaughter trial.”

Oh Max, a broke girl after my own heart.

The thing is, Lifetime Movies aren’t meant to be funny. It takes a special breed to find the humor in Sexting in Suburbia. Actually, no, that one is entirely too easy, but the point is, those movies aren’t really meant to be funny. They’re supposed to shock and sadden and make you more aware of the dangerous men that surround you. Moms rarely get to be the villain.

The fact that Max not only discusses the bad blood between herself and her mother so casually, but often for the express intent of hilarity, is empowering for me, the product of a villainous mama. Weekly, I come across complaints that Max’s constant invocation of her dysfunctional past is heavy-handed and sloppy. That surely, there is more to her character than that.

There is. Max is hardworking. She really is. She lets her cynicism hold her back at times, but she holds down a job. Sometimes several. She’s smart. She may not think she is, but that intelligence is there.

The same can be said for Caroline. It would have been so easy for writers to turn Caroline into a single joke: the silly rich girl who has to learn how to function in the mean real world without Daddy’s money. To an extent, that joke has been used, but the same can be said of Max—it's just inverted. This week, Max agreed to bake cupcakes for a Jewish family and assured them the sweets would be kosher. Caroline was appalled when Max revealed that she had no intention of going out of her way to make the cupcakes kosher, that no one would know the difference, and what’s the big deal anyway?

Tradition, Caroline argued. Thousands of years of tradition.

Both of the girls on 2 Broke Girls are strong and intelligent, just in different ways. And both are working hard to rise out of the shadow of their respective upbringings. Do they both get a little caught up in their own drama? Sure. But you know what? When I get together with my own broke, semi-dysfunctional friends, do you know what we do?

We get caught up in our own drama. And then we mock the hell out of it because laughter is a sweet, sweet medicine.

Comments (14)
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Its a show I know I am suppose to hate, its full of tired stereotypes, and stupid jokes, but I can help but love this show.
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I've liked this show since it began. It is a very smart show, and despite it's criticisms, it knows what it is, and it's proud of it.
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I usually give new shows at least 4 episodes to win me over. I literally had to stop watching this show after 5 minutes of the pilot. It's awful.
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Yeah not a fan of the show but I've watched every single episode just because I have a crush on Kat Dennings! She's gorgeous!!!
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I like this show, even if I don't watch it regularly. And one of the things I like about it is what you said about the writers not turning Caroline into a single joke.
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Been liking it since day one. Some episodes were better (anything with the horse in it), some less so (anything with that non-boyfriend in it), but laughs are direct, punchlines work and Max's deadpan style is amazing. Supporting cast is totally stereotyped, but they get into their roles with zest. This is why I loved shows like Perfect Stranger; it's low-brow but it eases the tension and the laughs are good. You go girls!
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This is a very good show!
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The show just delivers consistent laughs, the same way Two and a Half Men does. Every show doesn't have to be 30 Rock or Arrested Development; it's okay to not be high-brow and just guarantee a lot of laughs for 30 minutes, even they are about sex or play on old stereotypes. The only bad thing is that Kat Dennings is a terrible actress, who seems to think every line delivery has to be some 'booyah, in-your-face' yell; Beth Behrs really carries the show (and has possibly the best legs ever).
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ive loved this show from day one, I was a bit wary at first with how the show would go, but they have managed to make it work in an incredible way. All the people I have suggested this too have thanked me again and again cause we all think it is absolutely hilarious. While I love other comedies like New Girl and hot in cleveland I think 2 broke girls is continually proving itself to be noteworthy and a better show than the former two!
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this series is fantastic, maybe not for people that are astounded that you can say vagina at 8.30. you've been putting it down from day one and no you come up with this stupid review... the quality of this site is going down the drain...
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The episode was okay but not great.



I thought that the overall theme of the episode which was family and tradition worked well in this episode. They manage to hit all the right notes last nite.It didn't feel heavy handed or preachy.



I thought that the two boys were over done. Maybe it was just me but I thought that the acting here was not that good. I know they are suppose to be obnoxious

little creeps but i think they needed to tone it down a level



This episode had the same problem that thr other episodes had . While the main character were developed and fleshed out the supporting character were one dimensional and poorly written. Everytime I see or hear a secondary character speak it makes me cringe. I am not a person who read racial commutation into everything but all I see when I watch they secondary characters are racial sterotypes



I would prob give this episode a 3 out 5
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this show definitely shouldn't be on at 8:30/7:30, can be really dirty



BUT I think it's funnier than 3/4ths of the comedies on TV, more so than the two overly praised shows from CBS and one from ABC that I don't like.. which I won't name..



sort of ironic that this show comes from Whitney Cummings, whose own show isn't nearly as good.
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i agree, i was surprised by how much i liked this show. yes you could make a drinking game out of how many times they use the words "vagina" and "rape" in one episode (and im sure somebody somehwere has) but its such a fun show to watch that its easy to look past. they;ve managed to make both max and caroline interesting enough charatcers that we actually care and its not one dimensional, they can both learn things from each other. i hope this show is around for a while!
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those kids were dope.

Playa!
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