2 Broke Girls cooks up its latest “And the Secret Ingredient” from its freshman season, which sees Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs) losing themselves in extreme couponing during an attempt to visit their adopted horse Chestnut. “And the Secret Ingredient” doesn’t work any wonders for the troubled series, but might provide a chuckle or two depending on your pop culture awareness.
So apparently, extreme couponing is a thing. Once again 2 Broke Girls seems to venture into parody territory for that which I’m unfamiliar, leaving me to question both my sanity and awareness of the outside world, but I digress. I’m the kind of person who glosses over coupons, even sets aside seemingly valuable ones, only to promptly forget they ever existed, or at best, actively decide not to use them when talking to the cashier an extra second doesn’t seem worth 35 cents. I’ve never seen anyone take to coupon use so strategically and obsessively, but apparently this is a well-documented subculture.
Looking back on my last few 2 Broke Girls reviews, this appeared to be something of a trend, parodying trashier elements of reality TV series and common shopping practices; both topics ripe with humor but escaping the demographic of my understanding and appreciation. Before I go talking myself out of a job however, I recall a recent conversation with friends that justified looking for deeper humanity within such exaggerated parody, and that for all its flaws 2 Broke Girls still requires an honest evaluation.
To that end, 2 Broke Girls’ biggest strength lies in its ability to develop characters beyond their stereotype impressions, something ‘And the Secret Ingredient’scores with hits on both sides. We want more to Kat Dennings’Max than the snarker with a quip for every occasion, much as we want to see Beth Behrs’Caroline as more than a rich airhead easily sucked into mania. On rare occasions we see the deeper development to these personas, something ‘And the Secret Ingredient’manages to approach…before sharply veering into the bizarre.
For all her cynicism and sarcasm, we’re meant to root for Max and sympathize with the notion that her cool exterior comes from a deep history of neglect, something best revealed when the show draws parallels between her faithful visit to Chestnut against Caroline’s distraction with couponing. That’s all very well and good, but ‘And the Secret Ingredient’manages to take away one of the fundamentally likeable traits about Max, her baking expertise. By revealing her cupcakes’secret ingredient as nothing more than ordinary baking mix, Max loses credibility as the plucky protagonist of her own series. It’d be the How I Met Your Mother equivalent of diagnosing Ted with marriage addiction.
By the same token, we’re treated to a brief flash of Caroline’s underlying distress in her reaction to being seen with coupons, and even briefly in the teaser with a descent toward Max’s bitter waitressing. That might have made for an interesting story, before it devolved into exaggerated coupon mania and stock sitcom rivalry, uncharacteristically ignoring the horse she once loved, the last remnant of her past lifestyle. ‘And the Secret Ingredient’even manages to alienate the stereotypical Han with his rather bizarre stubborn attempt to keep the diner’s tampon price at 75 cents. All the tampon humor makes for a few uncomfortable laughs, but feels more like shock humor for shock humor’s sake rather than anything truly clever.
In the end, nothing about 2 Broke Girls’ reinvents the wheel, or accomplishes anything substantial toward improving the show’s weak base, and all the clever puns in the world aren’t going to change your mind about the series if you weren’t already a fan before we entered the year of the apocalypse.
We’ll leave that to Rob and Work It!
And Another Thing…
- Tampons might be a little extreme, but even I admit to carrying around matches in spite of an aversion to smoking, and by association girls who smoke.
- Perhaps something of a telling moment, but I did have to chuckle at the unspoken comedy of Max retracting her free tampon from the elderly diner patron.
- Just when you think the show can’t get more racist, it decides to exaggerate a Jamaican accent by 900%. Somehow, this seems far less racist.
- I wanted to throw my remote when Caroline started consoling Max about her secret ingredient being her individuality. NO. Your secret ingredient is RIPPING OFF CONSUMER PRODUCTS.
What did YOU think?