There's a little thing going on right now called The Television Critics Association press tour, in which all the networks host panels about their shows in front of a live audience of some of the industry's professional television critics. The days are filled with Q&A; sessions, and the nights are filled with industry parties as the nets try and wring a good word out of those who critique TV shows for a living. (I've attended one in the past, and to be honest, they're pretty boring.)
But television critics can be jerks sometimes (just look at me!), and when you put a bunch of them in a room at the same time, they can become a downright angry mob. CBS (full disclosure: the network signs my paychecks) took a turn in front of the horde today, and one panel, 2 Broke Girls, got particularly testy this morning.
The critics played the role of the firing squad, and the man wearing the blindfold was 2 Broke Girls co-creator Michael Patrick King, who's best known for writing Sex and the City and directing its movie adaptations. The point of contention was the much written-about topic of ethnic stereotypes and dirty humor. For those who haven't seen the comedy, which debuted in the fall, two ladies work in a diner with a sex-crazed Eastern European line cook, an African-American cashier, and an Asian caricature for a boss. Also, the word "vagina" rolls off tongues a few times an episode.
After lobbing a few softballs, several critics took aim and fired off inqueries regarding the show's race-based humor and potty-mouthed one-liners, a line of questioning to which King took offense. "I think our jokes are classy dirty," King said, according to Vulture. "Highbrow lowbrow." There have been several accounts of King snapping at a reporter who asked whether CBS programming chief Nina Tassler requested "dimensionalizing" supporting characters, responding with: "I will call in you in five years and you will see if these characters are further fleshed out."
The whole thing unspooled on Twitter gloriously, with #awkward becoming a common hashtag as King became more flustered and puffed out. Later, King allegedly turned his back on and walked away from reporters who sought him out to ask additional post-session questions. "I came here thinking it was going to be a blast, about fun, not this skewed viewpoint," he said after the panel.
I'm not about to come to King's defense, as being subject to criticism is part of his job. But the last time I checked, 2 Broke Girls was a CBS comedy and not Charles Dickens. I wasn't in the room so I can't really editorialize on the situation, but it seems we can cut back on the venom a bit, considering 2 Broke Girls certainly isn't the only show with stereotypical supporting characters on TV right now.