Is 2 Broke Girls 2 Crude, 2 Racist? Series Creator Michael Patrick King Responds to Criticisms

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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.

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“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.”

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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?



Comments (115)

  • I was completely surprised by how much I like this show. Yes, it definitely has some racial stereotyping, but, like King said, I think most characters start off as some form of a stereotype. To get an audience to relate or sympathize with a character, they have to understand them, and the quickest way to gain that understanding is to show something the audience is familiar with, i.e. the stereotype. But I’m hopeful that the characters will grow out of these stereotypes as the season progresses. I don’t this they’re necessarily trying to be offensive, but, frankly, it takes place in Brooklyn, and you can’t really write about Brooklyn and not include some characters like this.

    Comment by Cari – January 12, 2012 06:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Uh, yes, maybe the characters start off with a stereotype, but in this case, they never leave where they started off. If you didn’t fall asleep on your Zopiclone five minutes in, you’d be able to see that.

      Uh yes. And you are claiming people SYMPATHISE and UNDERSTAND racist stereotypes?

      I am literally wiping tears of laughter out of my eyes WHILE dry-heaving at reading…what I can only say is…A-grade ignorance.

      Comment by Igy – April 21, 2014 03:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I didn’t notice the “blonde” and “brunette” stereotypes that MPK was referring to, like at all, those two are just 2 broke girls. All I saw from the first half a dozen episodes before i stopped watching this offensive crap is the shockingly senseless stereotype of Asian, Eastern European, and yes, African American. This sentiment is echo by a large amount of viewers, yet MPK’s ego refused to let him acknowledged that his show is offensively racist.

    Comment by DB – January 12, 2012 08:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Personally I like this show. I hope you all that are complaining aren’t watching the reality junk.

    Comment by Boiler – January 12, 2012 09:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I just find the show unfunny personally and no I do not watch the Reality junk as that belongs in the bin instead of on the TV.

      Comment by Chris – April 19, 2012 04:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The show is edgy and very funny. The combination of all the characters make this show work.

    Comment by dac – January 12, 2012 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’m sorry, what’s edgy about it?

      Comment by Igy – April 21, 2014 03:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love this show. The cast has great chemistry, it’s a funny plot and I hope it stays on the air to see them succeed. But I’ve been wondering, wasn’t Jennifer Coolidge supposed to join the cast as a person who lives in their building? Where is she already???

    Comment by Alex – January 12, 2012 12:23 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • There was a joke on the show about rape, and there is nothing funny about rape. This show is not funny, and is not on in my house.

    Comment by Scot Haney – January 12, 2012 03:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • And I’m a person who is answering the question. As well as expressing the opinion that there are other things to watch, and to talk about other than a 20 minute show. I’m trying to figure out why you needed to remind me of the question, and why you needed to tell me that people will be answering it.Thank you Captain Obvious.

    Comment by Tarah – January 12, 2012 05:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • They need to lose BOTH the stereotypical asian AND the laugh track. Then it might actually be more tolerable to watch.

    Comment by Jenny – January 14, 2012 11:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This show is hilarious and a favorite every week at our house. I do think it’s time slot should be switched with Mike and Molly. Yes, they do get a bit “adult,” but not nearly as much as 2BG. Great show that should be on at a later time.

    Comment by Kaley_T – January 20, 2012 09:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I feel so sorry for you.

      But then again, all you lazy shallow thinkers must have great fun laughing together.

      Comment by Igy – April 21, 2014 03:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Raunchy cheap humor. Crass racist dialogues. Its pathetic.

    Comment by Sanjay – February 6, 2012 05:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Raunchy cheap humor – for example’ ….like his manhood is knocking on my lady door…..’ It’s in extremely bad taste. Crass racist dialogues. Its pathetic.

    Comment by Sanjay – February 6, 2012 05:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Rather than the use of stereotypes being “lazy”, I think it is actually pretty clever and I don’t think you can call a show racist if it manages to poke fun at practically every stereotype they can think of; It isn’t like there is any preferential treatment!
    Maybe it is because I am Australian and hear these types of racist, sexist and sexual jokes and crudeness on a daily basis or maybe people just really need to learn how to laugh at themselves. Either way I love this show and its humour.

    Comment by Alyssa B – March 28, 2012 10:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The show is not racist as it pokes fun at lots of races and stereotypes as a lot of people say, if it just poked fun at one then it would be racist. I hear a lot of jokes like you do (Through my mum’s friend) and I do laugh at them. I myself am very hard to offend but my problem is that I just find it very unfunny as I see the jokes coming from a mile away. Though maybe it is because I am from the UK but I do find a lot of UK and US comedies funny.

      Comment by Chris – April 19, 2012 05:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Are the writers on strike again? I like Kat Dennings but this show is bloody awful. The writing on this show makes the writing group at 2 1/2 men look like a Mensa chapter.

    Comment by Ken – September 19, 2012 01:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I liked this show when it started but it has gotten so vulgar I am going to quit watching it.

    Comment by Mickey – November 19, 2012 08:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think most sit-coms these days SUCK! They all seem to have lazy dialogue and too many cliches’…If I want to watch something really funny, smart, and witty I will turn on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report…Even Saturday Night Live is getting hard to tolerate with its poorly written sketch comedy.

    Comment by Alex Baar – January 28, 2013 06:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Okay everyone is guilty of being offensive, inappropriate, or rude at least once in their lives so why the hell is everyone trippin about a tv show? Want to complain about something? Complain about that tasteless crap teen mom advocating child pregnancy. Or how about buckwild advocating drugs, sex, and being a jackass? The kardashians saying its ok to be a slut as long as youre rich and dress good… Talk about being freaking two faced America. Get over yourselves.

    Comment by Psych20 – February 25, 2013 07:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • PS- Im American (from Corpus Christi, Tx) part African American, Spanish and Puerto Rican, a female, and I have been sexually harassed. I still have a sense of humor & Im not easily offended. 2 Broke Girls never fails to crack me up… Those who mind dont matter and those who matter dont mind.

    Comment by Psych20 – February 25, 2013 07:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Just how have you have the ability to construct this type of wonderful group involving commenters to your internet site?

    Comment by how to color – April 8, 2013 08:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I laughed out loud when these writers/producers/whatever talent they don’t actually have, while holding the job – said “oh, there are basically stereotypes about blonde and brunette women”. If we haven’t gotten over a stereotype based on someone’s hair colour, I don’t think they’re going to do at all well portraying an Asian or whatever else.

    I don’t know how ‘edgy’ it is either. I am a 26 year old woman and supposedly should know what’s edgy or what’s not, but I find humour about graphic sex utterly boring. There is only one dimension to it: “and his fingers went in”. How else can you describe it? No other way. There’s only one way to prevent graphic sex in words: graphically and mentioning sex.

    Good humour is multi-dimensional.

    Comment by Igy – April 21, 2014 03:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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