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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

2 Broke Girls: “And The Pre-Approved Credit Card”

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Much of the excitement I had about returning to cover 2 Broke Girls again after about a month away quickly disappeared when I read the title “And The Pre-Approved Credit Card” and realized that I probably didn’t even have to watch the episode to know exactly what would happen in it. This isn’t to say that predictability is the worst quality a sitcom can have—and it’s definitely not the worst thing about 2 Broke Girls, considering my immediate thought upon learning that Cedric the Entertainer was playing Earl’s son was that I’d have to brace myself for double the racist jokes aimed at them. But for a show like this that has yet to prove it can successfully embrace a predictable sitcom storyline and turn it into something new, funny, or at least somewhat entertaining? That’s when predictability mostly just translates into boredom.

The setup begins in the diner as Max and Caroline’s poorness has resulted in them running out of lipstick and breaking their high heels. These things aren’t as important as, say, paying bills or investing in their cupcake business or even feeding that horse that’s still around, but it’s important enough to prompt Caroline to later sign up for a credit card they’ve been magically pre-approved for. Max doesn’t believe she’s responsible enough for a credit card (and also doesn’t think she’ll get approved because she’s been “fired from eight Dairy Queens”), but she eventually gives in, if only so we can watch the two girls quickly max it out on frivolous items. They agree it’s a good idea for their business, but instead of mentioning any single thing that would actually be useful, Caroline has her sights set on a new pair of Christian Louboutin shoes, while Max is obsessed with buying lizards. I think one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about 2 Broke Girls this season are the strange character traits the writers sneak into Max: A few weeks ago, we learned about her love and knowledge of comic books/films, and this week, her enthusiasm over a box of lizards was odd enough that I found it funny. To the girls’ credit (and to the writers for not making this episode entirely by the numbers), they don’t actually get the new shoes or a bunch of lizards but do manage to, of course, buy other ridiculous things—though, uncharacteristically enough, not for themselves.

This ties in neatly to the B story of the evening that revolves around a visit from Earl’s possible-favorite son Darius (Cedric the Entertainer). Aforementioned apprehension aside, I was looking forward to this storyline with the hope that it would shed some new light on Earl and make him less of a caricature and more of a well-rounded character. While I’ve previously mentioned that the diner scenes and side characters are often my least favorite part of any episode, I do think it’s something that can be easily fixed. If the diner employees (and Sofie) are definitely here to stay, then the writers need to find a way to make them engaging to viewers. By now, Caroline and Max are each developed enough to the point where I can root for them and their success, so I wouldn’t mind if they gave up a little of their screen for the rest of the crew. The second season seems like a good time to focus on everyone else by giving us something—anything—about them to care about. It’d be ideal to have this show transform into a sitcom with a successful and thoroughly enjoyable ensemble cast (which many shows have done in later season) but honestly, I’d even settle for just a little more depth from Earl, Oleg, etc., instead of having them pop in, make a sex or drug joke in an over-exaggerated accent, and then disappear for the rest of the episode. “And The Hold-Up” was an okay start to developing Han into someone more than the butt of height and Asian jokes, so I was hoping for more of that with Earl. Unfortunately, most of the Earl jokes just revolved around him not remembering which child was which or even how many children he’s fathered.

The focus is more on Darius, who quit his job at a car dealership to pursue his dream of becoming a comedian with the increasingly grating tagline “You’ve gotta laugh!” punctuating all of his jokes. In a callback to Caroline’s broken shoe, she spills food all over Darius, and the girls decide to take him shopping for new clothes for his upcoming stand-up act. At first, in the comfort of the diner, Darius’ jokes are of the put-down variety (Oleg is foreign and smelly! Caroline is blonde and dumb!), but they soon learn his real act is awful observational humor. I’m a big fan of the awkward humor in sitcoms featuring stand-ups with purposely bad comedy or actors with purposely bad acting but even I have to draw a line at something like “You know who doesn’t drive a smart car? Smart people.”

At the store, the girls decide to help Darius not bomb on stage by buying him a suit because “all the professional comedians wear suits” as well as a puppet because, well, I guess they’ve never seen every Jeff Dunham special go horrible awry. The puppet they give him is a thugged out beaver named Justin Beaver—and this may have been the loudest I’ve ever groaned during any episode of this show. But Darius refuses to use the puppet, bombs quickly with the smart car jokes, and goes back to the insult humor that wins over most of the crowd. Oh, and the girls’ credit card is soon declined at the bar, but did I even need to mention that?

Stray observations:

  • Actually the “Breaking Bad? We’re more like broke and sad” line during the cold open may have made me groan more than the puppet.
  • The money total at the end of every episode seems increasingly useless as the show goes on.
  • As much as I hated the Justin Beaver puppet, I did actually laugh at Caroline, Max, and Justin all opening their mouths in disbelief in a row.
  • What’s with the ventriloquism trend in sitcoms during these last few weeks? 2 Broke Girls, Modern Family, Happy Endings. Anything else I’m missing?