TV Review: 2 BROKE GIRLS 1.1, "Pilot"

This show comes from CBS's new producing 'star', Whitney Cummings, advertisers and execs were clamouring over this three camera, laughter track sitcom after the pilot, heralding it the season's 'breakout' hit. So, no pressure.

This show comes from CBS's new producing 'star', Whitney Cummings, advertisers and execs were clamouring over this three camera, laughter track sitcom after the pilot, heralding it the season's 'breakout' hit. So, no pressure. Of course, this first episode has to get all the scene-setting out of the way, which is a necessity for this kind of mis-matched buddy concept. Thinking about the 'great sitcoms' recently it did seem to me that most of them drop you in with the situation already firmly established, look at; Fawlty Towers, Seinfeld, The Office, the relationships are all established before we meet the characters, and it is the situations we find them in that provide the comedy, hey, let's shorten that and call it a sit-com. Ahem. The most major flaw of this first episode of 2 Broke Girls is that it is a first episode, it has to set things up, and sometimes the set-up is the least interesting part of a story. So, what is the 'hook'? Max (Kat Dennings) is a waitress at a flea-pit diner, that in a bizarre side note used to be owned by the Russian mob, run by Han Lee (Matthew Moy) - looking to 'Americanize' himself prior to a citizenship test he's changed his first name to 'Bryce' in one of the better earlier gags - and with a lecherous Russian cook called Oleg (Jonathan Kite) and Earl the cashier (Garrett Morris). After Max's co-waitress is fired Han hires the ex-socialite Caroline (Beth Behrs), who is the daughter of a disgraced billionaire and has had all her assets frozen. Max instantly takes a dislike to this stylishly dressed, prissy, immaculately groomed colleague-to-be, but through a series of circumstances winds up with her as a begrudging friend, co-worker, house-mate and business partner in the show's coda that - along with an end titlecard tally of how much money the girl's have - forms the basis of the running goal, that will undoubtedly go up and down depending on the series' success. It's hard to tell from this episode whether the show has the ability to really run, the key factor though is the relationship between Max and Caroline and this is the show's one saving grace, despite playing crudely drawn archetypes of streetwise and spoilt the two actresses both manage to bring something to their roles. Dennings has a quirky way with line delivery that is at turns self-deprecating and throwaway, offering a derisive giggle after a slightly ropey gag that somehow manages to raise the gag's enjoyability as Dennings is pretty much saying 'Yeah, that was a bit lame, but I know it' and oddly that's respectable and, well, as far as my humour goes, pretty relatable. Behrs meanwhile manages to make her character utterly sympathetic, not pushing the 'Eew, poor people!' angle as much as others might, most of her sneering is done with a similarly knowing wink, and when the two girls are on screen together they have a relaxed, genuine banter that manages to smooth the edges off of a somewhat cliched situation. Some of the jokes and characters, at least within the crammed confines of this light, breezy 20 minute debut fall by the wayside or just come off as out-of-place. Earl just pipes up with contemporary pop-culture one-liners that generally fall flat, Oleg is very two-dimensional but will probably emerge as the character that develops 'a heart' and Robbie (Noah Mills) is a jerk boyfriend of Max's who hopefully won't be returning in future episodes. By far the most successful supporting character is Brooke Lyons as Peach, a high society girl who has two babies (Brad and Angelina) that Max babysits, her gaze is constantly focused on her touch-screen phone and she's delightfully out of touch with reality, when overcome by a 'mothering' vibe she asks Max to pass her one of her babies and then responds; 'No, not that one, the good one.' The baby then delivers the best deadpan look of the show! Less successful and more gimmicky - and hopefully just a closing gag - is the presence of a horse in Max's garden, it even gives the camera a withering look too. The show is not the runaway success that the (admittedly studio level) hype seemed to suggest but it does, at the very least, have some potential with regards to the two leads who make the most of slightly stale material.

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