Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' '2 Broke Girls'
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "2 Broke Girls," CBS
The Pitch: A Manhattan-based "Laverne & Shirley" for the 21st Century?
Quick Response: I went through a weird roller-coaster on "2 Broke Girls," all within 22 minutes. I hated the way all of the main characters were introduced, so the first five or 10 minutes were excruciating. Kat Dennings' Max is too stereotypically brassy and sassy and every joke seems to involve her breasts. Beth Behrs' Caroline is too stereotypically blonde and bubble-brained. I could find no way to work with the fairly racist portrayal of the owner of the diner where they work and the sleazy Russian chef and wise old black doorman were really more than I could handle. I found myself getting increasingly pissed off about CBS' claims that this was the highest testing comedy pilot in network history and what that meant about both the development and testing process. Then? "2 Broke Girls" got better. Past the "Let's introduce our characters in the broadest way possible" cliches of the opening, Caroline and Max both became much more appealing. I'm strongly predisposed to liking Kat Dennings and her expertly deadpan sensibilities are put to far better use as the pilot goes along. There's absolutely no reason why this show shouldn't be a huge launching pad for her. I didn't know Beth Behrs before and none of her initial choices were all that interesting, but Whitney Cummings' script eventually decides that it wants to disprove all of our expectations about the character. Granted that this desire undermines the performance decisions in those opening scenes, but it works to Behrs' favor to have Caroline as more than just a stupid Paris Hilton clone. By the end, when the show's ongoing conceit is finally introduced -- these two very different women set a business goal together and episodes will build towards that goal -- what "2 Broke Girls" was doing was finally rather charming. For this reason, I'm really hoping to get a second "2 Broke Girls" episode to watch before reviewing. If the second half is a reflection of the show's sensibility, this could be a decent little show, but I still need assurances that the first half was just clumsy foundation-laying. A side concern, and one you'd think would be bigger, is that I didn't laugh out loud a single time at "2 Broke Girls." When I was enjoying the show, I was smiling and even taking pleasure in some of the writing, but I wasn't laughing. [This is similar to the problem I had with the vaguely similar "Apartment 23," though I liked the totality of the ABC comedy somewhat more.] I wonder how much of my not-laughing came from the icky taste left in my mouth by the beginning, where the punchlines rely far too heavily on tone-deaf raunch, rather than writing quality and the appeal of its leading ladies. We'll see. We'll also see if the ethnic/racial caricatures in their primary place of employment either become more nuanced or get pushed away entirely. I'd hope for the former, but root for the latter.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll definitely watch a few more episodes, but the fate -- for me at least -- of "2 Broke Girls" may hinge on what happens with "How I Met Your Mother" this season. If "HIMYM" can't pull out of its tailspin and I can convince myself to drop a show I haven't really enjoyed for years, "2 Broke Girls" may be an unintended victim. Or maybe "2 Broke Girls" will become awesome and I'll stick with "HIMYM" just to complete the hour? Anything could happen.
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Up All Night'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Revenge'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Once Upon a Time'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Awake'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'I Hate My Teenage Daughter'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'Unforgettable'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'The Playboy Club'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Charlie's Angels'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: NBC's 'Grimm'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: FOX's 'New Girl'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'
Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.