2 Broke Girls, “And The Upstairs Neighbor”: A Wacky Misunderstanding

by suzyhooker on February 6, 2012 · 6 comments

in Television, You're Not Funny

2 Broke Girls is, in its first season, a breakout hit for the bawdy CBS network. The traditional, filmed-before-a-live-studio-audience sitcom follows the adventures of a mismatched pair of young women waitressing at a diner while they save up to launch a cupcake business. Occasionally there are jokes that use Coldplay and the Arcade Fire as punchlines, and it takes place in Williamsburg, so it’s sometimes called a hipster comedy.

It’s a show that we love to hatewatch. 2 Broke Girls has shocked us (I know!) at times with its throwback racism and heavy use of rape jokes, not to mention its willingness to toss off lines about cumshots, anal, and 85 variations on “that’s what she said.” From the very first episode, we wondered, “Why don’t they just strip?” and patiently waited for the idea of doing sex work to occur to them. Finally, the episode “The Upstairs Neighbor” addressed sex work. Sort of. Bubbles, Charlotte, and Kat gathered on Skype to watch and comment on how 2 Broke Girls handled the idea of hooking.

Right off the bat, Oleg the oversexed Ukranian cook starts in: “Pickup. Chicken breast, the way I know you want it: With the bone in.”

Charlotte: Bone in!
Kat: Bone out.
Bubbles: Right out of the gate with the double entendres. Kat Dennings can barely keep a straight face in this show.
Kat: She doesnt look like she’s holding back laughter though, just like she doesn’t know what to do with her face when she’s not talking.
Charlotte: In spite of myself, I kind of like the blonde [Beth Behrs].
Kat: I love the blonde. She is nice!
Charlotte: Yeah, she’s so positive, and somehow it’s not annoying cheerleader positivity.

In their apartment they start talking about how little progress they’ve made financially.

Bubbles: Five months, they’ve made $700.
Kat: Pfft.
Bubbles: Love that typical Wburg apartment.
Charlotte: The poorer you are, the more self righteous it makes you when you scorn sex workers.
Bubbles: That is so true.
Kat: They have lots of street cred.
Bubbles: Masturbation joke at 2:05!
Kat: I’m waiting for them to use the phrase “Jill off” on one of these episodes.
Charlotte: The laugh track just highlights how unfunny the jokes are.

A detective shows up with the news that their upstairs neighbor has been dead for a couple of weeks.

Bubbles: Max is so edgy with her corpse jokes.
Charlotte: She’s heavy.
Bubbles: Her rack is amazing. Y’all seen her photos?
Kat: Tiddies!
Charlotte: I meant heavy like mentally/emotionally profound, by the way. Lest I seem like I’m bodysnarking. [I knew that. I didn't think you were saying she was fat. Skype crosstalk!—Bubbles]

They go upstairs to introduce themselves to their neighbor. The door is answered by a man on a leash.

Bubbles: Kink!
Kat: Why is the sub wearing three collars?
Charlotte: Why is the sub wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater?
Kat: Yeah, S&M people may be stuck in the 90’s but even they know not to mix argyle with three collars.

It is absolutely never addressed again in the episode. Perhaps sub neighbor will become a recurring character? But now they are distracted by their new upstairs neighbor as the Bee Gees play, very loudly. 

Bubbles: I do understand how Max is more upset by hearing her neighbor’s music than by a guy lying dead upstairs for two weeks.
Kat: Oh, definitely.
Charlotte: The blonde is a great dresser except for those ridiculous fake pearls she wears with her uniform, in case we forgot she used to be rich.
Kat: She looks great in camel like me.
Bubbles: That’s her one thing she grabbed when she got kicked out of her apartment.
Kat: …Camel TOE! *laugh track*

They run upstairs to slip a nasty note under the loud neighbor’s door. She soon comes downstairs to confront them.

I think those are Tony Shoes!

Bubbles: Jennifer Coolidge is so great. She is like a walking real live Miss Piggy. I love her so much. She has no shame.

Sofi enters the apartment. When she starts applying Chanel lipgloss, Caroline flips out with covetousness. Sofi gives Caroline a tube in exchange for a plate of cupcakes.

Kat: Jennifer Coolidge is such a great improv actress the way she pulled a hair out of the lip gloss. Who wouldn’t like to fuck her?
Charlotte: If they’re so poor, can they afford to give out ceramic plates?
Bubbles: See, that’s what girls really need money for: Chanel lip gloss.

Later that night the music resumes. They go upstairs to confront Sofi, who opens the door to reveal nearly a dozen young women in lingerie sets and babydoll nighties, some reclining on a swing, lounging around the apartment.

Bubbles: How Pretty Baby of them.
Charlotte: Honestly, I love the Bee Gees. And I have had a client play it before during our appointment.
Bubbles: That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I am going to fact check this nonsense with my friends in New York who frequent the quasibrothels. “When you show up, are there eight hookers in babydoll nighties? And a swing?”

Caroline says, “Oh my god, she’s a hooker. I’ve been using a hooker’s lip gloss.” 

Charlotte: As if using a hooker’s lip gloss is any less unsanitary than using another random stranger’s lip gloss.
Bubbles: Seriously! Like Max doesn’t have herpes already.
Kat: herpes toilet seat joke > herpes lip gloss joke. One fourth of the population has herpes.
Charlotte: The fact that the apartment had about twelve unoccupied prostitutes is a powerful indictment of how bad our economy is.

Sofi comes to the diner later. Caroline asks Earl if he thinks she looks like a prostitute and he says, “Well, I don’t like to judge a book by its cover, but if she was a book she’d be the kind that other books pay for sex.” 

Bubbles: LMFAO. Earl’s is the first good joke.
Kat: I LOLed.
Charlotte: I have not come even close to laughing once.
Bubbles: Not even at “the kind of book other books pay for sex?”
Charlotte: No, though that was the best so far. And his delivery didn’t make it sound insulting.
Kat: He was just calling it like he saw it.

Sofi says she’ll take them to dinner somewhere nice since the diner is unacceptable. She mentions how all those girls work for her. Cut to the nice restaurant, where Caroline is stuffing her face with caviar.

Bubbles: I can’t believe it took 14 episodes for the idea of sex work to occur to two girls who need money.

The restaurant owner comes over and Sofie asks him how the girl she sent did. He says she was great. “Over, under, on all fours!”

Charlotte: It’s very silly that this restaurant wouldn’t have a dress code that she’s violating. But, sure, the restaurant owner would start yelling about having paid a prostitute for multi positional sex while the businessmen eat away. That’s totally plausible.
Kat: All fours. Sigh.
Bubbles: “Come” double entendre, sheesh

The girls start talking about how they aren’t going to do it, and Max tells Caroline she’d be a terrible hooker. 

Charlotte: Oh WOW: “I have a heart and soul and dreams of a family” so I would make a terrible hooker.
Bubbles: Sell yourself to have nice things? ha. Max is so much more pragmatic.
Charlotte: Why does Max all of a sudden want to be the polite one?
Bubbles: I bet she has an angle. She’s totally going to go back and talk to the madam later. Oooh, what’s the kicker?

The kicker is, as we discover when Max tells Sofi they can’t work for her because “she’s bad in bed and I’m a sourpuss,” that Sofi is not a madam but is running a housecleaning business, and all the girls are cleaning ladies. “We insulted a hardworking woman who was trying to help us attain our goal,” Max says. FU!

Charlotte: Oh so if she were a madam she would NOT be a hard working woman who tried to help them achieve their goal? That’s exactly what she is.
Bubbles: Down on all fours, get it? How is being a housecleaner not so much more demeaning than having sex for money? I mean, my god.
Charlotte: That is exactly the comparison a lot of sex workers make.
Bubbles: Waitressing, too.
Kat: Yeah, at least prostitutes aren’t scrubbing the shit off of toilets that people miss. That’s what my house cleaner friend told me about that scared me out of doing it.
Charlotte: And being accused of stealing jewelry.
Bubbles: I want a swing in my living room.

The girls make up with Sofi and all three sit down on Sofi’s couch to watch her 3-D TV, complete with special glasses.

Charlotte: Uh oh, now they have eye herpes!

At the end of the episode they’re down $60. 

Charlotte: How did they lose money during that episode?
Bubbles: I don’t know!
Charlotte: A trip to the doctors for a herpes test maybe.
Bubbles: I’m so disappointed!
Kat: Disappointed with what? The fact that the plot never showed up?
Bubbles: I feel like they ripped off the premise of this episode from an old Three’s Company.

HEY GUESS WHAT: It was totally the premise of an episode of Three’s Company.

Charlotte: I still think the most insulting part was that whole “I have a heart and soul” speech.
Bubbles: Definitely.
Kat: I think the herpes thing was the worst because it wouldn’t die off. That joke needs Valtrex.
Bubbles: To me it’s the idea that they wouldn’t seriously consider it.
Charlotte: So what does the “take a lot” line mean in the context of house cleaning?
Bubbles: Uh.
Charlotte: That doesn’t pan out.
Bubbles: hm.
Kat: It means he totally misses the toilet when he poops.
Charlotte: Thanks for the great recommendation! So glad I watched it! While it was playing, my boyfriend told me to take the headphones off, listened to the show for about three minutes, then told me to put them back on.
Kat: It’s the greatest thing since 2.5 Men. I can’t wait for the episode where they try selling scrap metal.
Charlotte: We can only pray for a crossover show. That would really be delightful.

Sofi’s going to be a recurring character on the show. In a brave step towards battling allegations of hackneyed ethnic stereotyping, they’ve added “flamboyant, buxom Eastern European woman” to a roster that includes “oversexed undergroomed Ukranian,” “short, high-strung Asian,” and “wisecracking ladies’ man black guy.” Perhaps she will turn out to be a madam in the end! On tonight’s episode they’re “auditioning” for Sofi’s cleaning service, hmm. This definitely won’t be the last time an episode features sex work, not when the whole entire premise of the show is that two attractive young women need money.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Olivia February 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

it also kind of seemed like the way she kept saying “Hooorrible, hooorrible note. WHOOOORE-IBLE, WHOORE-IBLE NOTE” was (really annoying) foreshadowing.

still love j-cool, though.

Reply

Lilly Muse February 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I used to clean houses. I wouldn’t call it inherently demeaning work, but the thought of making $8/hr for that kind of labor–any labor–is utterly absurd. Our employees never had slumber parties either. This scenario would be more plausible if all 30 of those little Gidgets lived together in that apartment; I could then at least see how any of them could afford things like Chanel lip gloss and silk nighties and bread. If that’s not the case, it would be cool if Sofi ran a fantasy house cleaning company where the girls are attractive and work in French maid outfits and lingerie. I doubt that eventuality though, because big media has little to no grasp on differentiating between types of sex work (there is stripping and there is prostitution, and both must be shamed). The “audition” will probably turn out to be some kind of kitschy song-and-dance thing they include with their service. Aspiring actresses and all that. This storyline is just irretrievably stupid and insulting. Also, I have enjoyed Jennifer Coolidge in the past, but her insistence on returning to that “flamboyant, buxom” character is so thoroughly irritating.

My favorite part of all this is that the three of you went all Mystery Science Theater 3000 for it! There should be more of this!

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Irony Butterfly Irony Butterfly February 8, 2012 at 8:25 am

Does anyone else remember a time before the whole herpes/cold sore thing was so widely known and cold sores were just something that people had to deal with and had nothing to do with like sexual shame? I do.

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Rose February 9, 2012 at 12:37 am

I laughed a little at the old hooker’s lip gloss line. But just a little. Even though, yeah, any stranger’s lip gloss.

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Lauren February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Is it bad that I deal with the racism and stale jokes for the love of Kat Dennings boobs?

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Bubbles Bubbles February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Lauren, we would *never* judge you for that. They’re pretty sweet.

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