Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Pilot #5: 2 Broke Girls

FALL PILOT #5: 2 Broke Girls

NETWORK: The Abysmal Pit that is CBS.
SUPPOSED SELLING POINT:  People will watch it because if follows that show where Doogie Howser really overacts.  Also, Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings put it together. 
POSSIBLE SELLING POINT FOR ME:  I just kind of like Kat Dennings.

I broke my rule, guys.  I watched CBS tonight.  I know, I know, it's terrible.  I feel a little dirty viewing their backwards laugh track comedies on the same night they happened to air.  Just...as if I've been wronged, somehow.  We've been through this before but I sincerely believe that CBS is the least progressive, blandest network around.  I tend to ignore it, though I've learned to suffer through (on DVD, of course) The Big Bang Theory's antiquated structure to get at those great little morsels of nerddom.  Today, as I watched 2 Broke Girls, hoping for Kat Dennings' snark to pervade through the cheery flat camerawork that mars all CBS sitcoms, I arrived at a new conclusion.  I don't loathe CBS because it's block after block of repetitive police procedurals catering to old ladies, I can't stand it because so many of the shows seem to have been birthed in a previous decade.  For me, television -- and in particular the sitcom -- has evolved beyond certain modes and forms.  The CBS sitcom, with its reliance on the laugh track, its bawdy overacting, and its lack of self-deprecating understanding of its own mechanics, is an outdated machinery best consumed in reruns viewed over leftovers or in college dorms.  It's nothing new.  In fact, it feels quite the opposite.  2 Broke Girls, like Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, and yes, even Big Bang Theory actually feel old.  They're the TGIF shows of my youth resurrected for some sort of audience who never advanced beyond that level.  I mean, seriously?  Outsourced offered something with more of a postmodern, vaguely satirical edge than almost anything on CBS, and that's really saying something.  Of course, something doesn't have to be new to be effectively funny, but...

While I was momentarily entertained by 2 Broke Girls, I didn't laugh.  Kat Dennings gets a handful of smart, cynical lines here and runs with them, but it's almost as if she were CG'd into a pre-existing show in an attempt to make a stale thing a little bit edgier.  Where even The New Girl knows how to place a pause for comedic effect, 2 Broke Girls fills its silences with a barrage of idle prattle, relying on harebrained gags and raunchy innuendos to spice up mediocre content.  There are logical leaps, stilted characters reading stilted dialogue, and an easy breezy ghost of a narrative arc.  We meet sharp-tongued waitress Max, we see the hijinks of Brooklyn diner staff, and then meet Caroline (Beth Behrs): a down and out ex-trust funder whose daddy just got locked  up for defrauding half of New York.  Voila: they're living together, finding ways to bridge their vast differences, and suddenly planning on saving up money to open a cupcake shop.  How many hijinks will ensue as they hunt for that $250,000, folks?  SO MANY HIJINKS.  I get exhausted just thinking about all those hijinks.  It's like Whitney Cummings fell asleep after watching Bridesmaids and The Odd Couple in quick succession but didn't think through how the relationship could be exploited to be actually interesting.  Just as I'm consistently amazed that Jason Segal remains a presence on How I Met Your Mother, I have no idea why Dennings attached herself to this show on this network.  I could see the premise working out if filmed for Showtime or HBO in a Nurse Jackie meets Bored to Death sort of light.  But, with a laugh track, the shoddy camera work, and the whoopsy-daisy whipped cream bit?  Ugh. She's better than this, smarter than the jokes, and darker as a presence.    

SECOND EPISODE?:  Eh...I just can't do the laugh track. That's it.
WILL IT MAKE IT TO A SECOND SEASON?: Does anything shown on The Abysmal Pit that is CBS ever get canceled?  

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