2 Broke Girls, CBS' new recession-era comedy, might think it's going for broke in an attempt to keep fickle audiences interested. But really it's merely grabbing elements from a slew of other comedies. It's part The Odd Couple: Paris Hilton-style heiress Caroline Channing is forced to move in with tough-talking waitress Max Black after her father's arrested and divested for heading up a Ponzi scheme. It's part Alice: The two work at a greasy diner staffed and frequented by a cast of revolving wackadoos. And, since Caroline's storing her horse on the deck of Max's New York flat, it has a certain Green Acres vibe to it too. Or is it Mr. Ed?
Then, in terms of its salacious sense of humor, 2 Broke Girls borrows heavily from its network mate Two and a Half Men.
While Broke Girls is ostensibly about friendship in economic downtimes, the majority of its jokes are all about sex: The sex characters have had, the sex they've not had, the sex they hope to have, the weird sex other people are having. In the premiere, Max and Caroline launch into a series of jokes revolving around a certain region of the female anatomy, partly inspiring The New York Times to christen the 2011 television season "the season of the vagina."
"I think our tolerance for what is edgy is changing," says comedian Whitney Cummings, who helped create 2 Broke Girls. "We're getting a little desensitized, so sometimes you have to be more and more shocking because now you have YouTube and the Internet and all the rest that's available for us to watch. … If one day passes without me writing any more vagina jokes, my career is blown. Vagina jokes paid for my house."
Indeed, this sitcom's writers pack more sex jokes into a half-hour comedy than some airlines pack in seats on their planes. And just like the aforementioned plane can do a number on your kneecaps, the jokes here can make viewers feel mighty uncomfortable.
Perhaps we can't entirely blame CBS for Broke: Times are tough for them too, and everyone knows sex really does sell. So let's just say it's out of desperation to keep audiences from turning off the telly and updating their Facebook accounts instead that they've taken a tried-and-true sitcom body and injected it with loads of salacious, Botox-like content.
"And Strokes of Goodwill"
Max introduces Caroline to the joys of shopping at Goodwill. Caroline promptly becomes despondent when she finds a pair of her old $900 shoes marked down to $8. And Max cracks, "That's not pain. That's karma."
We hear joking references to homosexuality (including a reference to the "friends" Caroline's father is making in prison), rape, prostitution and the three registered sex offenders living in Max's building. Double entendres and allusions evoke genitalia and animals in heat. Both Max and Caroline wear tight clothing, and Max whips out ketchup and mayo packets from her bra. Caroline sings about being naked.
Caroline suggests that she and Max "get drunk," so they go to a bar and down shots. When Caroline squeals after a shot of tequila, Max says, "God knows what your orgasm sounds like." She also says it's a good idea to check the pockets of Goodwill clothing for pills. (We learn that the last time she took just such an unknown tablet she "fell asleep for eight hours.")
Characters say "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "p‑‑‑ed" and misuse God's name several times. Someone spits out a Spanish swear word that shocks even foul-mouthed Max. References are made to horse droppings. A woman pulls Caroline's hair.