PC World

One Broke Culture

January 17, 2012

Multiple Pages
One Broke Culture

“Ugly.”

That’s how not one, not two, but three professional media-watchers headlined their stories about a recent press panel promoting the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls.

What horrors took place at last week’s Television Critics Association confab, then? Chuck Lorre sucker-punched Anthony Zuiker? Oprah showed up without makeup?

Nope: A gay Irishman mocked a straight Irishman for asking why the former’s show made fun of blacks and Asians.

I haven’t followed an American sitcom since News Radio, so here’s what I’ve pieced together about 2 Broke Girls: It was co-created by Whitney Cummings—she’s vaguely funny and not hideous, so let’s give her two development deals!—and that gay Irishman above, Michael Patrick King (whose credits, you won’t be surprised to learn, include Will & Grace and Sex and the City). The titular gals work in a Brooklyn diner (the “sit” in the “com”) but dream of opening a cupcake boutique. And they own a horse.

“They’re mad about the hipster jokes.”

The critical consensus is that 2 Broke Girls would be funnier (or at least less—cough!—objectionable) if it jettisoned its “offensive” supporting characters:

It’s a little baffling that a network sitcom in 2011 doesn’t bat an eye at rolling out a Chinese manager from the Mickey Rooney School of Oriental Sensitivity, a greasy Eastern European chef who ought to be toting a machine gun behind Alan Rickman in a 1980s action movie, and a wizened African-American man who I guarantee will bust out at least one bona fide Magical Negro moment this season.

So now you’re thinking: Hey, when is this show on again?

(If you’re like me, you have John Derbyshire’s classic “When Foreigners Were Funny” bookmarked. You watch poor-quality uploads of Tough Crowd on YouTube. Your nieces and nephews think you have a form of Tourette’s which forces you to bellow, “That could never get made today” every twenty minutes.)

Well, don’t get your hopes up. I watched clips of 2 Broke Girls for this story. I didn’t laugh. Now if only they could harness the unintentional hilarity at that “ugly” press panel…

After one concern troll too many asked King whether he’d ever tone down the show’s “racist” stereotypes, he snapped, “I’m gay! I’m putting in gay stereotypes every week! I don’t find it offensive, any of this. I find it comic to take everybody down, which is what we are doing.”

One critic “leaped in at this point” and asked King if he really thought that gave him a free pass to insult other minorities.

“Being a comedy writer gives you permission to be an outsider and poke fun at what people think about other people,” King replied. (He went on to observe that water tends to be wet.)

King’s impatience was described as a “bizarre meltdown” and a “spew” of “gibberish” by a man who’d come “unglued” in some of over 70 news stories. (Look how long this one is.)

True, King sounded like a bitchy diva (shocker!) but what’s so “bizarre” about minority “talent” insisting “it’s different when we do it”? I thought our elite betters defined that as dogma around the time The Producers came out. Gangsta rap, anyone?

I know what really made King’s detractors furious enough to turn on a member of a protected species and grant his temper tantrum more column inches than Lee Harvey Oswald’s first press conference. They aren’t angry about the show’s Asian jokes or black jokes or “Eastern European” (?) jokes.

They’re mad about the hipster jokes.

If you’re unclear on the “hipster” concept, visit Stuff White People Like. Next, experience some of 2BG’s hipster jokes for yourself. Here’s one:

Han: Max, why did you kick out the hipsters?
Max: ’Cause I could not be in the background of another Instagram photo.

I don’t get it either, because I’m not a hipster. But if you’re a professional television critic, you’re closer to being one than not. (Like being gay, one of the signs you’re a hipster? Insisting you aren’t one!)

“In life, only three things are inescapable: death, taxes, and the hipster jokes on 2 Broke Girls,” moans one commentator. Jezebel is disillusioned: “[M]ost of the ‘laughs’ come from hipster jokes. How very mid-aughts!”

The Huffington Post is unamused. Like many others, Grantland pretends to be annoyed because these hipster jokes “aren’t funny.” (Sniff.)

And they aren’t. They’re like when The Lucy Show made fun of hippies.

Mere unfunny-ness can’t explain the hostility directed at 2BG, but privileged white urbanites can’t very well scold a sitcom for mocking them. So predictably, they pretend to be concerned on behalf of “minorities.”

One tuts that, “To make matters worse, the black guy is played by Garrett Morris who…really deserves better,” when everyone knows Garrett Morris has been guano since the Carter Administration and is lucky to have a job.

Alan Sepinwall of HitFix.com claims he told the slighted showrunner after the panel:

Mr. King, I’m sorry things got so ugly there, but I wanted to say that it came from a place where a lot of us in the room like the parts of your show involving Kat and Beth and want the rest of the show to live up to that.

While picking the virtual spinach out of my teeth, I noticed that Mr. Sepinwall’s byline photo depicts an adult male. I want that checked out.

It’s refreshing when an actual black woman weighs in on what’s wrong with 2BG, but her big suggestion is for the show to add…a black woman character, who “could reflect life under the Obama administration.”

Next time you complain that television is too politically correct, don’t blame some temperamental old liberal queen behind the scenes. This time, he got bashed by uptight self-appointed cultural gatekeepers who want every TV episode to be “a very special” one, even if nobody normal wants to watch.

 

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