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Monday, September 19, 2011

2 Broke Girls: "Pilot"

Every time I've ever seen Kat Dennings in a small part I've wondered when she'd get a starring role to really showcase her obvious talents. (I swear that's not a boob joke.) Lead roles in movies didn't seem to pour in after "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" but 2 Broke Girls is going to make her a star.

Dennings is wonderful as Max, a jaded, sarcastic, modern young woman living in a run-down apartment in an apparently as-yet ungentrified Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Max can knock down presumptuous customers at the diner with a single line, and she can deflect creepy come-ons from the Russian cook with ease. She's a wonderful blend of confidence and uncertainty, and a really fully developed character right from the beginning.

Beth Behrs plays Max's foil, Caroline Channing, a trust-fund baby with no trust-fund any more. Behrs irritated me in the promotional ads for the show, but in the pilot she was actually funny and disarming. She's not quite the ditzy blonde portrayed in the ads, just a fish out of water. Her character isn't quite as realized as Max's, but there's only so much you can do in one episode.

There are some rough edges on display. A lot of people are bound to complain about the reliance on ethnic stereotypes. Garrett Morris plays a sort-of jive-talking old black man who traffics in belabored similes. "She's working harder than Stephen Hawking putting on cufflinks" is one example. Oleg the cook is a swaggering, leering jerk with a thick accent, and the diner is owned by an Asian-American only a few shades evolved from Mickey Rooney's Breakfast at Tiffany's character.

Still, the promise of the pilot is enough to keep me watching. By the end of the episode Max and Caroline have struck up a surprisingly poignant and compelling friendship, one that I am interested in following.

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