The fall TV season is underway and, despite the ever-lower numbers of women in the writers’ rooms, it’s being hailed as the year of the women: 17 out of the 25 new scripted shows on the Big Five networks are female-centered and many were created by women. In this series, comedian Leila Cohan-Miccio watches the new female-centered shows and evaluates how realistic their portrayals of women actually are. And now, the first of this week’s two Whitney Cummings-penned pilots, 2 Broke Girls.
Bad news first: 2 Broke Girls offers the most inaccurate portrayal of New York I’ve ever seen on television: there’s graffiti on the subway like it’s 1988, one character tells another that it’s not safe to wear a leather jacket in Williamsburg (it’s hardly safe to wear anything else!), and the city’s cupcake mania is straight out of 2003. Also, one should spell out all numbers below twenty, so it should really be Two Broke Girls. Get with AP style, sitcom! Good news: if you can get past these issues, there’s a lot to like about 2 Broke Girls.
The show follows Max (the always-delightful Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs), two waitresses at a Williamsburg diner. Max is quick to tell off the gross line cook who keeps hitting on her or a table of rude customers, but she’s kind-hearted: she helps the diner owner practice for his immigration exam and bakes cupcakes to sell at the diner. Caroline is the daughter of a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi schemer who’s down on her luck. Equal turns ditzy and sharp (she doesn’t know what “marry the ketchups” means, but she went to Wharton), she and Max initially dislike each other, but by the show’s end, they’re roommates, friends, and plotting how to raise the money to open a cupcake shop together (guys! Go on Kickstarter!).
While the laugh track is totally jarring for the vibe of the show and some jokes are too easy, Behrs and Dennings have fun chemistry and the show’s central conceit (each episode will show them trying to make money and each episode ends with a running tally of how much they’ve made) is one that can sustain multiple seasons. Beyond that, it’s really refreshing to see a show about female friendship. Max and Caroline’s goals aren’t to get the guy (Max’s boyfriend is quickly disposed of and no new love interests pop up) or the perfect body – they’re looking for success. 2 Broke Girls is also about two women who initially regard each other as competition, but learn that they’re more powerful together – a pretty awesome message for a CBS sitcom.