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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

2 Broke Girls: “And The Pearl Necklace”

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Sometimes, it seems like 2 Broke Girls loves employing a “one step forward, two steps back” formula. Every time an episode dupes me into thinking that the series is slowly inching its way into becoming an enjoyable sitcom, the producers throw out an episode like “And The Pearl Necklace.” It is the perfect example of what was so wrong with the series last season, and it’s certainly no coincidence that it was written by Michael Patrick King. His touch is obviously on every episode of the series, but it’s easy to pick out the ones he’s had the most involvement with: The sex jokes are crasser, there are more outdated pop culture references than usual, the diner is a main setting, and the horse is lurking around in the background.

Despite being the second episode of the season, “And The Pearl Necklace” largely deals with the cliffhanger of sorts from the first season finale where Max and Caroline managed to get their cupcakes into the hands of an impressed Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart said she would call them but hasn’t, leaving the girls waiting on edge for a call that will surely propel them from waitresses to bakers extraordinaire. Because 2 Broke Girls is not exactly built around twists and turns, it’s clear from the beginning that Max and Caroline will end up in Martha Stewart’s office by the end of the episode to ensure that hijinks ensue.

Fortunately, there were two nice character moments that saved the episode a little. First, there’s the explanation of the pearl necklace that Caroline always wears as a connection to her old life and the person she used to be. The references to Caroline’s privileged life can get repetitive, but it was actually nice here because the necklace represented less her financial status and more her optimism. She considers it to be her lucky necklace; she touches it whenever she introduces herself, and she was wearing it the first time she met Max. Second, there was the scene where Max admits she’s been anxious about receiving the call because Martha Stewart was the first person who ever told Max that she was good at something. Max’s biggest problem is that she’s frequently written as someone who’s so “tough” and “cold” that it gets grating and hard to relate to, but there was a nice universality and honesty in that moment: The feeling you get when someone praises your talent is a feeling you often end up craving. There’s a great contrast between the two girls’ motivations to see Martha Stewart. Caroline wants to believe that she’s lucky; Max wants to believe that she’s talented.

That said, the rest of the episode is a predictable mess. We know that Caroline is going to break her necklace. We know that the two won’t get in to meet Martha Stewart. When Max pulls out a can of spray paint to graffiti a cupcake machine and Caroline stops her, we know it’s just a countdown to when Caroline gets upset and defaces the machine herself.  The B and C plots are barely worth mentioning. Han wants to update the diner to a new computerized and paperless format (prompting lots of totally topical references to The Matrix and Terminator), which worries Earl, who will no longer be able to keep skimming money from the customers. Meanwhile, Oleg is convinced that he and Sophie are an exclusive couple, whereas Sophie doesn’t think so. Of course, Han screws everything up, and Sophie eventually comes around to Oleg. Just about everything in the episode is set up in such a pitch-perfect sitcom format that you really only have to watch the first six minutes to know everything that happens. “And The Pearl Necklace” frustrated me in a way that the show hasn’t since early first season—it’s not just because it was poorly written and devoid of laughs, it’s because it was boring.

Stray Observations:

  • Was anyone else weirded out by having the “Previously On” come after the cold open? Speaking of, I did like the sort of meta cold open where Max laments about how overused the word “vagina” has become, and Caroline pipes up that it’s Max’s favorite word.
  • I can overlook a lot of outdated references, but something about the recurring “Milkshake” ringtone made me irrationally angry.
  • A testament to Kat Dennings’ delivery: Her phoning Martha Stewart and pretending to be Michelle Obama (“My sheets shrunk, and I’m pissed!”) was the only joke I laughed out loud at.
  • I honestly can't believe the show didn't make a pearl necklace joke until the last minute of the episode.