I have been a fan of Kat Dennings since The 40-Year-Old Virgin and have been pleasantly surprised by Beth Behrs, but when it comes to the stories on 2 Broke Girls one might as well apply Gertrude Stein’s old aphorism about her native Oakland, “there is no there there.”
“And Strokes of Goodwill” is, except for a drastic difference in tone, almost like one of those art-house slice of life films where events are shown without consideration of chronology or consequence. Perhaps an even more apt comparison would be to a story told by a five-year-old. Like the five-year-old, the writers of 2 Broke Girls want your attention, and seem to have some basic idea of how a story is supposed to work, but haven’t made it past the stage where one event simply follows another, with the end arriving only when they’ve run out of ideas.
At least the people behind 2 Broke Girls get to change the scenery every once in a while to stave off boredom, even if their reasons for doing so seem similarly capricious. The trips to the Goodwill store, the bar, and outside the nail salon served little to no purpose, and the show didn’t use any of them for specific laughs.
But who needs specificity and insight to get laughs when the studio audience is so perfectly willing to cackle at one-dimensional ethnic stereotypes and retrograde sexism? This show has to either round out the diner’s staff or ditch them entirely. The aggressively creepy Russian cook is a black hole of humor and even Mickey Rooney finds the diner’s “ah-so-sorry” Asian owner deeply offensive. Tonight the show even steered into the skid by making the main antagonist a sassy, tough Puerto Rican woman.
Like the stand-up of its co-creator Whitney Cummings, 2 Broke Girls expects credit for simply making reference to off-color or taboo subjects, without realizing that these things are not inherently funny. At this rate, next week’s episode will probably be about one of the main characters farting. No amount of chemistry between Dennings and Behrs could save the show then.