Is ‘2 Broke Girls’ Racist?

I hate to think this about a show that Kat Dennings is involved with. But after last night’s nigh-inexcusable episode of 2 Broke Girls, it’s hard to escape that the show is relying heavily, and unattractively, on clumsy and unfunny racial humor.

It’s not just the diner manager, though he’s pretty bad. His name appears to be changing from episode to episode, though whose mangling of the English language seems likely to persist until Michael Patrick King doesn’t think they’re funny any more. Nobody thinks that producing a nametag for an employee means “you’re killing it.” And making jokes about said Asian boss like, “You can’t tell an Asian he made a mistake. He’ll go in back and throw himself on a sword,” isn’t funny, it’s just gross and stereotypical and treats Asia as if it’s a single country without distinct national lines and cultures. Then there’s the cashier, Earl, an older African-American gentleman, who sits around saying things like, “That’s the exact same sentence that got me hooked on cocaine,” or making horrible jokes about rape at Duke. There are some relationships where I suppose it might be okay for a younger white woman to say to an older black man that she’s making cupcakes that are made with “Delicious dark chocolate the ladies can’t help but love. I’m calling it the Earl.” But in the context of a show that hasn’t even reached the 30-minute mark between its two episodes, that just reads as kind of gross.

Then, there’s the show’s propensity to treat Brooklyn as if it’s full of alternately charming and distasteful ethnics (and the borough as if it smells bad). Caroline complains that the diner is “Three blocks and fifteen ‘Hola, chica!’s away” from the apartment she’s sharing with Max. When she complains that it’s noisy outside, Max explains that “that’s Puerto Rican noise. You’ll get used to it.” Caroline dramatically overpronounces “Juan” and “Javier,” as if it’s supposed to be hilarious, and she and Max make fun of a countergirl named Nabulungi.

I mean, seriously? A major television network saw this cut and decided, yes, what we desperately need in an already super-white television season is two milk-white chicks making fun of non-white people? It’s not as if ethnic and racial humor is impossible to do well, even if you’re not operating at Louis C.K.’s level, but this is just disgraceful. The show can contrast Caroline and Max’s backgrounds all it wants, but it’s increasingly obvious that King and the other folks working on the show are the ones who need etiquette and basic humanity classes.