The most frustrating thing about 2 Broke Girls has always been that it could actually be a good show if it really tried. It's at its best when it focuses on representing the current economic climate and how these two girls are trying to simultaneously pay rent while not giving up on their dreams (even if their dreams happen to be a cupcake business). It's at its best when it decides to actually deepen the relationship between Max and Caroline—who will never be a Laverne and Shirley or a Lucy and Ethel, but who have fallen into a comfortable dynamic (thanks to Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, who make the best of what they're given) that is often to fun to watch, even when the episodes themselves aren't.
At its worst, 2 Broke Girls seems content to continually repeat its most problematic aspects—the racist caricatures, the reliance on shocking sex jokes that are neither shocking nor funny, the writers' strange obsession with the boring joke format of "You put the [short word] into [longer word]," and the constant harping on the show's original premise—which are all problems that could be easily fixed, if the writers ever cared to. For much of the first season, it was like watching a car wreck, but not like slowing down on the highway to catch a glimpse of one. Instead, it was like parking your car on the side of a notoriously busy intersection to see the whole thing go down from start to finish.
However, I did find myself enjoying a lot of "And The Hidden Stash," the show's second season premiere. Perhaps it's because of my optimism. Perhaps it's because the horse was only mentioned by name instead of showing up. Or perhaps it's some sort of television Stockholm Syndrome. The cold open did predictably feature the show's go-to jokes: Han's broken English, Oleg's perverted self, a pop culture reference (Game of Thrones!), and, of course, a mention of Max's breasts. But from there, the show actually breaks into new territory when it's revealed that the Channing family is having an estate sale which prompts usually chipper Caroline to begin setting newspapers on fire and justifiably insulting Sophie's outfit.
Later on in the episode, we finally get to meet Caroline's father Martin, oddly played by Steven Weber, which gives the girls a good reason to get out of the diner. The diner is one of the weaker sets of the show, a place where almost all of the jokes fall flat, and it's always much more enjoyable when the girls leave it, although I do wish they would leave the supporting characters behind as well. There are a few moments of comedy in the swanky jail scene, notably in Max's immediate and predictable crush on Martin Channing that causes her to offer to sneak anything in, or out, of jail for him. Much to Caroline's chagrin, Martin suggests that both girls go to the estate sale and bid on Caroline's loving cup from a horse-jumping competition. He insists to Caroline that it's "important to your future" prompting every viewer in the world to immediately mutter "There's always money in the banana stand!" to themselves. Max quickly catches on and convinces Caroline that there must be $60,000 ("like a million dollars!") in the cup, and the two are off to the auction.
For the most part, the auction is exactly what you'd expect, though there were a few chuckles out of Caroline's brunette wig, which apparently made her look like everyone from Zooey Deschanel (but "everybody does!"), Jennifer Love Hewitt (appropriately described as a Lifetime Movie star), and even Katie Holmes. Sophie made an eye-rolling golden shower joke, Oleg inexplicably wore a Fila tracksuit, and once again, I wondered why the show bothered to keep any of the supporting characters. The girls win the cup in the auction only to find out that it was empty, of course, because the show can't b callede 2 Broke Girls if they suddenly have thousands of dollars!
The show's ending features a surprisingly almost-sweet scene between Caroline and Martin, who explains that he just wanted her to have something important to her. With more developed characters and better writing, it would have almost been a good, emotional scene between a father who wronged his daughter and the girl who has been unfairly forced to deal with the consequences. But on 2 Broke Girls, it falls short of an emotional resonance, though it does give us a quick glimpse of what the show can be.
That said, 2 Broke Girls is a show that I've found hard to give up on. There's a lack of sitcoms dealing with the underpaid and overworked broke twenty-somethings (though, admittedly, there are a few more than when 2 Broke Girls premiered) because most shows prefer to skip from high school/college to focusing on settled down friends in their 30s. The truth is, I like Max and I like Caroline, so here's hoping the second season actually gives us more reasons to really root for them.
- I was tempted to bump this up to a B solely because we didn't see the horse nor did we have to watch the characters ride in a subway car that proves the writers haven't seen a NYC subway since Giuliani cleaned them up. Also I'm pretty sure this is the one episode where the show didn't use the word "hipster."
- Admittedly, I was pretty happy to see Steven Weber because I have a soft spot in my heart for Wings.
- The sound on my television kept cutting out while watching this episode, so I heavily relied on closed captioning to follow along, but man, this show is something entirely different when the laugh track occasionally disappears.