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Featured TV on DVD Review: 2 Broke Girls: Season One

September 20th, 2012

2 Broke Girls: Season One - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Like every fall, this past fall saw the debut of countless new sitcoms on the big four TV networks. Most of these earned weak reviews, many were canceled by the end of the season. 2 Broke Girls had the most watched premiere in a decade. However, it was buoyed by Two and a Half Men, which aired the first post-Charlie Sheen the same night. Overall, it just missed the top 30 for the season and was the winner of The People's Choice Award for Best New TV Sitcom. Did it deserve this praise? Or was it just lucky to air on such a popular night?

The Show

2 Broke Girls is a buddy comedy sitcom focusing on two women, Max, played by Kat Dennings, and Caroline, played by Beth Behrs. At the beginning of the series, Max is working at a diner in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. It's one of three jobs she has. She is also a nanny for a rich socialite, Peaches (Brooke Lyons), while she makes cupcakes at home and sells them at the diner. The diner is run by a recent Korean immigrant, Han Lee (Matthew Moy). The other staff there include the cook, Oleg (Jonathan Kite), a Ukrainian immigrant, and Earl (Garrett Morris), the cashier and former jazz musician.

In the first episode, the second waitress, Pauline, is fired, because she was a prostitute. Max doesn't want him to hire a replacement, because she could use the extra hours, but it is too late. He's already hired Caroline, who has a very impressive resume. It doesn't take Max long to figure out she lied on her resume. (In her defense, I didn't know what marrying the ketchup meant either.) Caroline begs Max not to tell Han and get her fired, because she really needs the money. She used to be rich, till her dad was convicted of a major securities fraud and now all of their assets are frozen. Max relents, she even lets Caroline stay in her apartment when Caroline has nowhere else to go. The initial beginnings of their friendship is a little rough, but by the end of the first episode, Caroline has decided that she and Max should start a cupcake business. (Also, Caroline's decided that her horse, Chestnut, should live with them.) Throughout the first season, Max and Caroline try to get the money they need to start their cupcake business, but for the most part, other things keep getting in the way.

If I were to describe 2 Broke Girls in three words, it would be, "The Odd Couple". However, while some complained that this was a copy of that film, this trope predates film. I don't mean it predates the 1968 film, I mean it predates film as a medium and there is a reason it keeps coming back. It works. Max's tough poor girl and Caroline's rich pampered girl are stereotypes, but we quickly learn more about them. For instance, Caroline is actually a capable businesswoman and a very loyal friend, although when presented with a chance to slip into her old life, she jumps at it. (Wouldn't you?) Max also quickly becomes a lot more emotionally complex when she begins a relationship with Johnny, a rising artist. (This relationship is a very strong emotional core of the show when the show needed it. It did end in a rather bad way.) Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs are the two biggest assets in the show. The pair have great chemistry together and elevate their characters a lot. If it weren't for their chemistry, this show wouldn't be half as funny as it is. If it weren't for Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, this show likely would have been the opposite of funny.

There are also a number of side characters in the show, most of which were not as successful early on. Earl isn't really well developed, but Garrett Morris and Kat Dennings do have good chemistry together. Oleg didn't even become a character until Jennifer Coolidge joins the show as Sophie. Sophie and Oleg begin a weird romance that allows Oleg to have a lot of character development. Before that happened, he was just there to make crude comments. Granted, a lot of those jokes were very funny, but he needed to do more. Even Han gets a bit more character development as the season goes on. I especially like it when he finally blows up over Max and Caroline always being self-absorbed. On the other hand, Peaches never worked out and I wasn't upset when the character was written out of the show. Also, while I enjoyed a number of scenes with Chestnut, especially when Max talked to Chestnut when the two were alone, it just didn't make sense that they had a horse in Brooklyn. I was sad to see it go.

As for the style of humor... calling it crass would be an understatement. If you don't like this type of humor, then this show is not for you. Personally, I love Kat Dennings being snarky, so I loved that part of the show. However, they do tend to hit the same notes a few too many times, which is a bit of an issue. It does expand later in the season and there are more character driven jokes than simple crass one-liners.

The Extras

There are only two extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray. The first is 2 Girls Going For Broke, which is a 14-minute making of featurette that features the main cast and a lot of the crew. There are also six minutes of deleted scenes. For a show that was a really big hit, this is a disappointingly small amount of extras. It should have had audio commentary tracks, especially with how much chemistry the two leads have.

The Blu-ray has no exclusives. The video is very good for a sitcom, but it isn't a visual feast. The level of detail is strong, the colors are good, the blacks are deep. There are no compression issues. The audio is clear, but uncomplicated. It is very much a front and center track with very little coming from the rear speakers. On the other hand, it's a sitcom, and it is what one would expect for this genre.

The Blu-ray costs just $2 more than the DVD. That's a hell of a good price for a TV on DVD release.

The Verdict

2 Broke Girls won the People's Choice Award for Best New TV Sitcom, it picked up a couple The Comedy Awards, and even won one of the three Emmys it was nominated for. However, the style of humor will turn off as many people as it entertains and that is an issue. I do think Season One got better as it went along and even though the DVD and the Blu-ray do not have a lot of extras, it is still worth picking up.

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