In the new CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, Kat Dennings (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Thor) plays Max, a scrappy Brooklyn diner waitress forced to work two jobs to make ends meet. Newcomer Beth Behrs plays Caroline, a former heiress whose assets are frozen after her Bernie Madoff-like father is imprisoned. Caroline seeks work at Max's diner to save money and face — "no one from the Upper East Side would ever go" there. By the end of the first episode, which aired Monday night, the two become unlikely friends, roommates, and business partners, a conceit that promises to help the show become "a modern day Laverne and Shirley." CBS claims that the show was its highest-testing pilot ever, but some critics groan that the its jokes were thin and strained. Is 2 Broke Girls worth investing in?
Yes. It's a "solid, old-fashioned sitcom": Dennings shines as Max, says Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times, infusing an acerbic deadpan with "as much grace and humor as humanly possible." And Behrs finds nuance in her Paris Hilton-like, smarter-than-she-looks Upper East Side princess. While the show may not boast a revolutionary concept, "amid the parade of bunnies, angels, stewardesses, and princesses" on TV this fall, Dennings' and Behrs' combination of smarts and sass is "as welcome as a cup of hot coffee in a white diner cup."
"Television review: 2 Broke Girls"
But it panders for its laughs: As winning as Dennings and Behrs are, 2 Broke Girls is marred by "trying too hard to be cool," says Judy Berman at Flavorpill. The series mistakes the use of dirty humor for edginess, mining wince-inducing lines like "that's the sound that makes my vagina dry up" for cheap shock-laughs. The jokes are often "so lewd as to seem unrealistic." Thankfully, the two leads rise so far above the material that most audiences should be hooked for at least another episode.
"First impressions: Is 2 Broke Girls trying too hard to be cool?"
Sure, it's problematic — but there's potential: When we meet Max, she's "too stereotypically brassy and sassy," says Daniel Fienberg at HitFix. Similarly, Caroline is "too stereotypically blonde and bubble-brained." The supporting characters populating the diner are etched too broadly and gratingly, and the early jokes are cliched. But somewhere along the way, the script begins disproving our expectations of the characters, adding touches of heart and complexity — not to mention ambition. What's left is a "rather charming" pilot with the potential to be a "Manhattan-based Laverne and Shirley for the 21st century."
"Take me to the pilots '11: CBS' 2 Broke Girls"