When “2 Broke Girls” co-creator Michael Patrick King took the stage to talk to critics during the TCA press tour this morning, little did he know that he would face a ton of questions about the stereotypes and broad comedy he uses on the show.
Critics have been vocal in saying that while the relationship between the two main characters, Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) is working, but the side characters — namely Oleg (Jonathan Kite) and Han (Matthew Moy) — are writen as borderline offensive stereotypes. Also, the reliance on broad jokes — they seem to utter “vagina” once per episode — has also been criticized.
King was ready for those questions. But as the questions about them kept coming, largely bypassing his stars, who were on stage with him, King got increasingly defensive.
“Our show is a big ballsy comedy but it has a bigger heart than it has balls,” he told the critics. “It’s broad and brash and very current.” When asked about whether the language on the show is in appropriate for 8:30 pm on CBS, his reply was that times have changed: “This is CBS Monday at 8:30 in 2012, not CBS Monday at 8:30 in 1994. “The show is classy-dirty. I think our jokes are high-lowbrow. They’re fun and sophisticated and naughty. I don’t want to get away from the brand of ’2 Broke Girls’.”
As to why he thinks he can put those stereotypes in the show, he said, “I’m gay! I’m putting in gay stereotypes every week. I don’t find it offensive, any of this. I find it comic to take everybody down. That’s what we’re doing.” When asked if he thinks saying he’s from one minority group gives him an excuse to make fun of others, he said, “I would say that you could rephrase that being a comedy writer gives you permission to be an outsider and poke fun at what people think about other people.”
During CBS entertainment honcho Nina Tassler‘s executive session, she mentioned to the critics that she’s asked King to “dimentionalize” the side characters a bit, and when a critic posed that question to King, the showrunner tried claimed that she didn’t.
“The characters are dimensional they are seen in segments of 21 minutes which limits the dimensions you want to see. I’ll call you in five years to see the characters fully fleshed out,” he snapped back. When the critic came back at King to clarify, the annoyed producer made a remark about the critic’s lineage, implying the critic was sexually repressed. But he finally relented and said that Tassler has told him to do it, but not to step back from how the characters began on the show.
“Every conversation we’ve had in this room today is based on extreme wit, sharp wit, words,” he said later, when he was somewhat less irritated. “We don’t need nudity. The edge on CBS is much different than the edge is on HBO,” referring to the network where his previous show, “Sex and the City” aired.
King may have not been seeing what we were getting at in the room. Sure, the critics were harping on the fact that Oleg is slimy, and Han has a thick Asian accent — King took pains to point out that the last three episodes had no Asian jokes, just short jokes — but the reason why they were harping on it is that they see the relationship between Behrs and Dennings’ characters as the heart of a good show.
In fact, during the post-panel period when reporters came on stage to talk to King and the stars, one critic came up to King and told him just that. King simply turned around and left the stage, without saying a word. Ouch. Guess having a top-rated new show allows a person to do that, huh?
Watch a clip from “2 Broke Girls”: