I recently found myself victim to a series of sleepless nights. In my despair, I did what any normal person would do, made snacks and consulted my stress-guru, my Tivo, to distract me from financial and relationship worries. Quite naturally, I found myself selecting the premiere episodes of two new comedies whose star casts had my ready-bake-oven set for elation. However, being Up All Night watching 2 Broke Girls somehow managed to well… put me to sleep.
Up All Night, starring Christina Applegate (whose recently cancelled Samantha Who broke my heart) the funny Maya Rudolph (whose recent turn in Bridesmaids won my heart), and Will Arnett (who well just plain makes my heart skip a beat)… somehow failed to impress. While I did enjoy the opening and closing bleeps of cursing in front of baby, the show fell short somewhere between F*$K and S#%T.
The basic premise is that newlywed couple Reagan (Applegate) and Chris (Arnett) struggle to find their footing as new parents. Applegate plays a working mother who must deal with the trials of separation when she leaves baby at home with her hubby to play Mr. Mom. Applegate works at a talk show (a la Oprah) where Rudolph’s character, Ava is TV’s queen talk show bee. Rudolph and Applegate’s characters are of course best friends, but Ava’s ratings have tanked while Reagan was on maternity leave and Ava is quick to mentally pinky swear that Reagan will be back for good to save the day. Of course Reagan must balance the challenges of being at her best friend’s beck and call, making it home in time to put baby to sleep, and keep the flame alive in her ready made romance. The opening episode features the duo’s wedding anniversary and an entertaining scene in which they decide to throw caution to the wind for an all night karaoke fest to prove their love and eternal youth. Needless to say, but I will, this culminates in the hangover of a lifetime complete with screaming baby sounds as an alarm clock.
While I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing, I’d describe the show as being too pat, too tidy, wrapped up in a baby’s diaper and delivered by the stork. While I got the gist of the show and had a few laughs, I wasn’t surprised in the way I expected to be. I felt like I could see every scene coming, every laugh choreographed, and character (including Rudolph’s overly nervous and neurotic assistant Missy, played by Jennifer Hall) well…all before. Maybe it was the late night PB & J, but I definitely felt as if I’d food coma’d right into the mundane. Still, my respect for the cast and love of quirky comedy is willing to acknowledge the daunting task the pilot episode has- knocking home the premise and hooking the audience. So I am willing to give the show another shot, it just might be in the middle of the night again rather than my prime time viewing hours.
Now perhaps as I got more tired, I became irritable. But I am pretty sure 2 Broke Girls was just flat out worse. Once again, I was enticed to set my Tivo by the dangling carrot of Kat Dennings. As a fan of her work and a waitress of many years myself, I couldn’t imagine a reason I would not like this show. Then I watched it. The premise is fine. Dennings plays jaded waitress Max who works in a dump of a restaurant with a creepy back of the house staff, foreign boss trying too hard to be all-American, and lives in an even shittier apartment with a less than worthy boyfriend with abs of steel (Noah Mills). All plausible. Her only waitering co-worker (it’s a VERY small restaurant) is fired for having sex in the stock room…still plausible, sadly…and in walks Caroline (Beth Behrs). She is a socialite modeled after the recent Ponzi scheme stories that headlined the real-life news. Her Daddy embezzled tons of money and she is broke and shunned by her upper-crust Manhattan community. She looks for a job where no one will find her…aka…Brooklyn and of course has a padded resume as she has never waited tables a day in her life (see the scene where she literally marries bottles of Ketchup, as in ‘I now pronounce you man & wife’). So…what’s the problem?
While there are a few laugh out loud jokes, the rest of the show is overshadowed by a banter of try-to-hard zingers by the writing team and a terrible laugh track to try to trick the audience into thinking they missed something that was actually funny. As the plot conveniently unfolds, Max discovers Caroline’s true identity and is about to oust her but not before Caroline helps her see what a sleezeball her boyfriend Robbie really is and the two find themselves in need of roommates. In an added bonus, Caroline , following in the footsteps of her afore-mentioned father, has been selling Max’s red velvet cupcakes at the restaurant for more money than the current going rate (feeling they were under-priced and has been pocketing the extra money). After fessing up the two bake a plan to save the cupcake cash over the next year and open their own sweets shop by year’s end. They also drive to Caroline’s former home to claim her only possession that is not tied up in the bank freezing her assets, her horse, which now lives in the backyard of the apartment complex (a la Mr. Ed).
I don’t know where to begin. While I liked the premise enough… like when you are starving and whatever you order tastes awesome because you are starving… I certainly didn’t want to leave a big tip. The show felt contrived and the jokes were anything but natural. The ‘cum-stained uniform’ storyline (Yes! You read that right) that dragged out for several jokes of poor taste almost had me sending my entre back to the kitchen. While I do like the idea of two girls from opposite upbringings finding themselves unconventional friends, I just couldn’t find believability in these characters. Dennings was characteristically dry but matched with Behr’s bubbly naivety it just didn’t mesh… Like ordering a hamburger with a side of tuna tartare. Okay, enough food metaphors, but you catch my drift. Would I give it a second chance…maybe if there is a coupon on Groupon. Sorry I couldn’t resist!