2 Broke Girls Season 1-03 ‘And Strokes Of Goodwill’ Recap

The Vulture Blog recently speculated on Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs), the stars of CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, being the kind of will they or won’t they couple that classic sitcoms are built on, like Ross and Rachel or Sam and Diane.

Now, this could be just the wishful thinking of pervy fanboys. However, last week’s 2 Broke Girls found the two in bed together with Max denying any same sex tendencies with one of at least two jokes about lesbianism in the episode.

This week’s episode, “And Strokes of Goodwill,” does nothing to quiet this unusual speculation. The episode finds Caroline desperately trying to further her friendship with Max and develop the kind of friendly intimacy that she expects from her friends.

Max is more than a little reluctant as if she senses a deeper connection but doesn’t want to acknowledge it. I know I’m reading too much into the exchanges between Max and Caroline but the relationship the two are forming does invite this.

Max and Caroline bicker like a couple and with with dialogue about Max not being the kind of girlfriend Caroline is used to, the show invites speculation. Max telling Caroline to think of her as a dude undoubtedly invites further speculation.

Even as the show introduced a cute young bartender friend of Max, the main couple focus remains on Caroline and Max and will they or won’t they? On the surface, that question pertains to whether or not they will be best friends. Underneath it, for those willing to forcefully parse the show’s dialogue, it’s will they or won’t they fall in love.

Plus, what else do people have to do while watching 2 Broke Girls but make up a more interesting narrative. In three episodes 2 Broke Girls has established who the character of Max is, a sassy waitress with a heart of gold, made Caroline look like a bi-polar loon, more on that later, and generally meandered through some very sitcom’y jokes on the way through shallow plots.

The plot of “And Strokes of Goodwill” focuses on a t-shirt that briefly makes Max nostalgic and vulnerable and ends with a very boring trope in which the villain of the piece, a girl who stole Max’s t-shirt, happens to show up at the diner where our broke gals work, just so Caroline can reap some karmic revenge with a bowl of soup.

Yes, the shirt serves as a bonding moment at a time when the girls need to re-establish their struggling friendship but the mechanical plot is lazy and worst of all, not funny. I enjoy Max and Caroline as friends but the writers really need to give them better, more natural jokes and a plot from which those jokes can emerge naturally.

Side Notes:

  • The diner setting is not working. The ethnic jokes with the manager (Matthew Moy), Garrett Morris’s ladies’ man schtick, and the skeevy cook (Jonathan Kite) have yet to be funny once in three episodes.
  • The horse has got to go. Who thinks that Max and Caroline keeping a horse in the backyard of their low-rent Brooklyn apartment is a good idea? The joke played in the opening episode but has become forced and unnatural ever since. 2 Broke Girls and a horse? Why not just sell the damn horse and be less broke? I wouldn’t mind so much if the horse jokes were funny but they aren’t.
  • Kat Dennings is not Whitney Cummings. While Ms. Dennings can play edgy, she’s not Whitney Cummings, who prides herself on her assumed edginess.
  • Caroline is being written as a nutjob. The scenes at the Goodwill have Caroline acting like a stuck up brat one moment, a crying wreck in the next moment and a dancing, giggling fool in the next. She’s not so much a character as multiple characters fulfilling the whims of writers who can’t seem to nail down one specific character.

I’m not ready to give up on 2 Broke Girls. Dennings is too talented and Behrs has too much potential. The show needs to lose the horse, improve the diner scenes and tone down the canned sarcasm but there is still a spark of potential in there.