Once the dust settled, Michael Patrick King, the creator of CBS’ latest sitcom success, admitted he was “very surprised” by the line and tenor of criticisms directed at 2 Broke Girls during its Television Critics Association winter press tour panel, which featured him and series leads Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs.
King had led off the Wednesday morning discussion by hailing Broke Girls as “a big ballsy comedy” that “has a bigger heart than it has balls.” Populated by an array of Williamsburg, Brooklyn types, he called the show “broad and brash and very current.”
Nonetheless, numerous questions that proceeded repeatedly surfaced the fact that characters such as Oleg-the-lecherous-immigrant-chef (played by Jonathan Kite) and Han-the-diminutive-Asian-diner-boss (Matthew Moy) were frequently offensive, at-times racist and, frankly, unfunny stereotypes.
“It’s interesting… because if you talk about stereotypes, every character when it’s born is a stereotype,” King countered. “This show started with two stereotypes — a blonde, and a brunette — and that implies certain stigmas as well, which we’ve try to diffuse and grow [away from].”
Then, asked to confirm that CBS boss Nina Tassler had given him the directive of dimensionalizing the cartoony Han and Oleg, King said, “I don’t think the characters were one-note…. I think the characters are dimensional, but they’re seen in segments of 21 minutes, which limits the amount of dimension you can see.”
King also noted that while Tassler defends Broke Girls as an “equal opportunity offender,” he contends that “the big story about race on our show is that so many are represented, that the cast is not only incredibly multi-ethnic, it’s also incredibly not ageist.”
As for Broke Girls perhaps pushing the early-primetime envelope with jokes about vaginas and rape and barely veiled allusions to anal sex and not-beauty-salon-facials, King stressed that the show is airing “8:30 on Monday on CBS… in 2012,” which, he said, “is a very different world than 8:30 on Monday on CBS in 1994.” He categorized the show’s humor as “classy-dirty,” “high low-brow” and “fun and sophisticated and naughty — and I think everybody likes a good naughty joke.”
And apparently so do many millions of viewers.
“People pull away from something if it’s not in good taste, and people lean into something if it’s OK. And week after week, more and more people are leaning in to 2 Broke Girls,” he said. So despite the grumblings about racist jabs and scatological humor, “there’s something there that they feel OK about.”
What do you think of the Broke Girls? Do the peripheral characters and/or “edgy” humor get in the way of you better enjoying the show?