On Monday night, 2 Broke Girls premiered on CBS and, I must say, that it is one of my favorite shows of the fall TV season so far — mainly because it’s a comedic jab on rich and overprivileged people.
The show merges retro gal pal comedies like Laverne and Shirley and combines it with Odd Couple sensibility and throws it into the hyper-urban borough of 21st century Brooklyn (Williamsburg to be exact). Kat Dennings’s Max is a snarky, no-nonsense independent woman who ends up befriending Beth Behrs’ billionaire heiress who recently lost everything. The two work at a greasy spoon diner in the thick of hipsterville and they have a Korean boss (played by Matthew Moy) with what seems to be a stereotypical portrayal of an Asian: broken English, dorky Osh Kosh B’Gosh for adults wardrobe, and a wide-eyed naive view of America. In other words, a FOB. Way harsh, right?
My love for the show aside, there have been rumblings of Asian Americans getting ready to attack the show for its Long Duk Dong tendencies, but after watching the show, I would like to politely ask Asian Americans to retract their fists of fury.
Sure, there are details of Moy’s character that would immediately make all of us go into militant mode. For instance, Moy’s character’s name is Han Lee, but he opts to Americanize his name by calling himself “Bryce Lee.” You can look at these two ways: 1.) Offensive because it degrades an iconic name in Asian culture or 2.) Funny because it is a social commentary on how immigrants change their names at a moment’s notice. I opt for the latter because there is no need to waste energy on yet another Bruce Lee joke. Yes, Bruce Lee is an icon and the very fact that they are parodying his name is testimony to that. And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no? Plus, the use “Bruce Lee as a gag” is the same ol’ rhetoric that we have been beating like a dead water buffalo for years. In the right context, it isn’t offensive. Half the time, we make a point for it to be offensive.
Other than the name and the exaggerated look of Moy’s character, there really isn’t any other reason to waste energy over complaining about Bryce Lee. With the screen time he has, Moy owns the role. He doesn’t degrade it. It would be a totally different story if they had him using an abacus in each scene or constantly eating kimchi or worse — driving a Honda with a ridiculous body kit and/or building the foundation for K-Town 2.0.
Plus, the show is a sitcom — a “situation comedy.” It’s supposed to be funny. But if you insist on getting frowning upon Moy’s character, then you might as well throw in their stereotypical portrayal of Earl (Garrett Morris), a cool-as-hell black man with a “jive” accent, the dirty and misogynistic Russian cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite), the jabs taken at Russian mobsters, the preconceived notions about high society, and finally the horrible attacks made upon hipsters wearing knit beanies.
Like it or not, it doesn’t change the fact that I want to be Kat Dennings’s BFF.