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Jews Watching TV: When TV’s Best New Comedy Is Also The Worst

There are shows one watches because he or she likes them and there are shows they don’t because they don’t. Also, there are shows, usually of the reality persuasion, that a person might watch because they loathe it and hate-watching is one of our times’ great cultural revelations. 2 Broke Girls is somewhere in the middle of all three. Concurrently, it’s frustratingly good and frustratingly bad. It’s TV’s best new comedy wrapped in TV’s worst new comedy.

2 Broke Girls is the most unlikely entry into the club of the year’s new relevant comedies. The New Girl, Up All Night, and Suburgatory all had the pedigree and sensibility of a good show and subsequently have been deemed as such despite all three’s unevenness. 2 Broke Girls instead comes from the likes of Whitney Cummings of Whitney “fame” and Michael Patrick King, creator of that hilarious, laugh-riot Sex and the City. Unfortunately, these two’s influence smacks the viewer in the mouth with every ham-fisted sexual innuendo or race based joke. This would all be well and good if the show was bad and ignorable. The problem is 2 Broke Girls’ two broke girls are so excellent together that it’s impossible to discount the show.

The generally beloved Kat Dennings and the soon to be Beth Behrs had such an instant chemistry that the other new shows actually appear worse in comparison. We are talking Laverne & Shirley/Felix & Oscar/____ & ____ level stuff here and that is nothing to sneeze at (also, BTW, stop sneezing at things). In comparison, Up All Night still feels like watching some of your favorite famous people pretending to play house. To 2 Broke Girls’ credit, they have been true to whom these characters are—Max (Dennings) has softened and Caroline (Behrs) has grown more savvy but they’re generally the people the show introduced us to originally. Where The New Girl, especially with its new girl (Jess played by Zooey Deschanel) is problematically inconsistent. 2 Broke Girls used a failed attempt at a relationship to soften Max, making her toughness feel a bit more earned­—The New Girl tried to do the same to make Jess seem more real, more potentially dateable but it was so hastily executed that she seemed incongruously erratic and callous.

This is the point where we discuss 2 Broke Girls’ glaring problems. Outside of its gals, the characters are offensively bad. They have been called offensively racist but I feel the problem is in bad racial-joke writing (watch most 30 Rock episodes if you want to see how it should be done). Speaking of bad joke writing, the show has an awful hit to miss ratio. A lot of it is a difference of sensibilities; 2 Broke Girls is currently closer to the show that follows it, Two and a Half Men, than the one that precedes it, How I Met Your Mother. Still, in the face of all of this, 2 Broke Girls arguably has the most potential because of its chemistry (also, it gets the best ratings, so it has the most potential to stay on the air the longest).

Last night the showed attempted to address some of its cast problems by introducing a new one who was too bizarre to seem racist. Jennifer Coolidge (who could become President one day but her Wikipedia page would still read, “best known for playing Stifler’s Mom”) plays the girls’ neighbor, Sophie. She is Polish, which singlehandedly makes their portrayal of Greenpoint 40x more realistic, and in a way a continuation of the in the clouds lush she always plays. She wasn’t funnier or less funny than she normally is but she was a good foil for the two broke girls. Also, she brought a respite from the diner, where most of repulsive attempt at comedy tends to happen.

The episode didn’t split any sides but it was very watchable. I’m aware that isn’t a ringing endorsement but for a show this maligned, it’s a start. Hopefully, it’s the start of what will become our favorite not-so-guilty, guilty-pleasure.

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