The rape jokes on 2 Broke Girls reveal something about writer Whitney Cummings. She has a fear of being attacked and she’s attempting to deal with that fear by taking the power away from the word rape. Joking about rape gives her control over the word and the way she reacts to it. It’s a strange sort of coping mechanism; not every woman has a network TV show on which to deal with their fears and neuroses.
Does Whitney Cummings have an attack in her own past? It’s difficult to say, but it’s a safe bet that someone in her life was attacked. She has a direct experience that she is dealing with and while you might think the jokes are insensitive, they’re actually a relatively normal reaction.
It’s called gallows humor and it’s something that all of us do in some way to deal with trauma. Cancer patients joke about cancer because at a certain point you simply can’t be sad anymore; the absurdity of life and death becomes darkly humorous. Gallows humor is less common among rape victims. The trauma experienced doesn’t lend itself to humor. But among survivors of rape, carrying the burden of having been attacked can sometimes only be lightened by a wisecrack.
Those of us who have never experienced this trauma cannot relate to this. We can’t understand the dark humor that accompanies surviving a massive trauma. Whitney Cummings or one of her fellow writers or a friend or family member survived something and shared with Whitney the experience and it translated to humor.
The problem is in the translation from jokes among friends to jokes on TV; jokes about personal trauma are the ultimate ‘You had to be there’ joke. Many of us don’t share Whitney’s perspective. We don’t know what she or someone close to her went through. We don’t know how they dealt with it and what it was that they found darkly humorous about it.
I know that this is the long way around to get to the simple point about why the rape jokes on 2 Broke Girls aren’t funny, but I felt it was something that had to be discussed. I don’t think we should condemn Whitney Cummings for these jokes, we don’t know where they come from. On the same note however, Whitney needs to recognize why most people don’t get the joke.
As for “And the Hoarder Culture” it was yet another middling, occasionally funny outing from a show that still could be very good. There were some honestly delightful moments in “And the Hoarder Culture” and those moments stoke the belief that 2 Broke Girls still could become a good show.
The highlight of “And the Hoarder Culture” was Max’s (Kat Dennings) reality TV fueled delight over seeing a real life hoarder home. Setting the scene, Caroline (Beth Behrs) took a job as a professional organizer, a job she found on Craigslist. Sorry Craigslist but your website is for now linked entirely to the skeeviest parts of our society and Craigslist is for now a quick, clever shorthand for a sketchy situation and 2 Broke Girls exploited that fact to good comic effect.
Also amusing was Max’s burgeoning relationship with Johnny (Nick Zano). Max is a rude and often very off-putting character whose only saving grace is being played by Kat Dennnings. Thus, when Max is forced to be genuine and not maintain a constant level of sitcom snark, we get the Kat Dennings that we always wanted on 2 Broke Girls, an off-beat beauty with an edge.
Seeing Max be vulnerable is appealing and has the potential to be very funny when the show figures out how best to take advantage of it. Three scenes standout from “And the Hoarder Culture,” Max going for and failing to get a kiss from Johnny, Max kissing Johnny on the street and then kissing Johnny’s girlfriend (Kelly Beckett) in an attempt to play it off as nothing and the final scene of Max looking wistfully at Johnny’s billboard tribute to her.
It’s moments like these that I wish 2 Broke Girls would expand on. Instead, we have to go to that awful diner and its population of cheap racial stereotypes. Matthew Moy’s Han was back this week and was as stereotypical and unfunny as ever. Jonathan Kite’s Oleg made three references to ‘69’ before the opening credits and not one of them was funny.
I’m a broken record here but I have to say it again, lose the diner, lose most of the race humor and lose the damn horse and 2 Broke Girls could still develop into a very good show.
- I laughed when Caroline said she once had a boat called ‘The Caroliner.’ It’s a tiny, throwaway joke but it demonstrates the best way to take advantage of Caroline’s past.
- The fact that we never saw the hoarder mother and son was a good gag.
- Funniest line of the episode was Max expressing her giddy appreciation of hoarders: “The only thing I love more than hoarders are fat people who can’t get through doors.” It’s mean but it’s so funny.