Honestly, it’s been so long since the show has referenced the fact that Caroline Channing is a formerly wealthy heiress that it’s weird to think about how classism was once the foundation the show was built on. Now obviously the premise of the show is found in its title, a pair of young women struggling through near-poverty, but the first season really capitalized on one of the two leads having been filthy rich.
That also means that it’s been a very, very, very long time since 2 Broke Girls has decided to retread the plotline of Caroline ending an episode with a realization about her new life being, in some ways, far superior to her old one. Until this week, that is.
Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t offer up anything new and potentially exciting. See, it’s Caroline’s grandmother Astrid [played by Judith Roberts, who you may remember as one of the elderly cons on Orange is the New Black] who has just come out of a coma, and consequently going to have a coming out party to celebrate. Sorry, anyone hoping for an LGBT-centred storyline, it’s a deceptively-titled episode. Could I maybe direct you to last year’s “And the Inside Out Situation”?
The twist, because there has to be one, is that Grammy Channing doesn’t actually know about her son’s misdeeds and consequent incarceration and loss of wealth [her nearly finding out is what resulted in her coma to begin with]. Caroline is instructed to orchestrate the luncheon without her grandmother finding out about this horrific event.
Now before we get into the Big Character Moment™ that I promised she would experience at the climax of this episode, I want to discuss how the show’s approach to Astrid Channing can be telegraphed by its direction lately. No one who’s been watching Season 5 of 2 Broke Girls can honestly say that it’s preoccupied with the titular characters making money, and in fact the “New Total” shown at the end of each episode means little to nothing at all. It’s for this reason that we never really see Caroline’s grandmother as a possible solution to their poverty, or expect Max to be met with anything but the mildest disappointment [she barely reacts] when finding out that the old lady is likewise broke.
I also want to ask, since I honestly don’t know the answer, why Caroline’s Grammy has no money. I don’t see how her son’s actions could’ve affected her fortune at all. It also doesn’t explain why Bernard, her butler, stuck around since he can’t possibly be paid nothing. I’m sure he wasn’t viewing exclusive access to her very expensive creams as adequate payment for his services. Why is he around at all? Later in the episode he bemoans looking for a new job at Chipotle, but hasn’t he been unemployed this entire time?
There are so many questions I want to pose to the writers’ room, you guys.
Back to where we left off, Caroline’s moment is so big that she actually delivers an entire speech to her grandmother after being told to stop picking up bits of crystal off the floor since she is “not help”:
“Grammy, you may have been a coma but I feel like it’s me that just woke up. For the past five years I have really been missing all of this. But it’s not good crystal that makes a life, it’s good people. People like them. And they are not ‘the help’, but they did come here to help me. ‘Cause you and I may be related but these people are my family now. And also I should tell you: I don’t work on Wall Street. I work in Brooklyn, in a diner. See, I’m a waitress.”
It’s a lot. It’s a lot and it feels mostly unfounded since Astrid Channing is not terrible to the staff [the diner gang having been coerced into helping out]. She’s not even terribly racist, having nothing to say about Earl as the sommelier and only accusing Han of being Chinese instead of Korean. When she says earlier that Caroline being friends with the help it doesn’t feel nasty or even condescending, more like stating a fact.
But Caroline drops this bomb on her grandmother regardless, shattering the old woman’s dreams that her granddaughter has actually leveraged her Wharton business degree into a successful career in business. Then Gertrude [the only friend still alive to attend the coming out party] further explains that Astrid has no money and the shock kills her. It’s the first fatality we’ve seen with our own eyes on 2 Broke Girls, as far as I can remember.
As with most episodes this season, and the one that came before it as well, this episode is peppered with some legitimately funny moments. The issue is, as with this show’s entire running existence, they exist around a shaky narrative framework. Seven episodes in and we’re still not sure exactly what Max and Caroline are working towards, and at this point the only continuing storyline to latch onto is Sophie and Oleg’s attempts to have a baby. When your secondary characters are the ones whose hopes and problems continue from one episode to the next you have a problem.
HEAR YE, HEAR YE: The 2 Broke Girls writers’ room cares so little about the “Current Total” and “New Total” at the end of this show that they literally aired the exact same numbers as the last episode. The former was $174.35 and the latter $140.00. I’m honestly shocked at the carelessness, because it’s like they’re barely even trying to justify the feature anymore.
The Title Refers To: Please see the third paragraph far up above.
- Max hacked into Han’s Amazon account. The password: “Han Solo”
- The passwords he comes up with afterwards: “Han Golden Pond”, “Han-ah Montana”, “Straight Outta Compt-Han”
- Caroline’s grandmother didn’t shun her, “she was just practically dead!”
- “You know I exclusively shop at TJ Max. They’ve been helping me spring into summer for years!”
- “Crack a window it smells like ASS-trid in here.”
- SO many old people jokes.
- “Maria, was it? I’ll take a tall glass of agua, por favor!”
- Max and Caroline are so poor they drink “Milk Drink™”.
- There’s a fun gag about how Han and Sophie are lending out their gross roleplaying sex outfits to their friends to dress up as staff, but it’s not his as hard as it could’ve been.
- There’s a moment where Grammy says: “On top, I like it up on top” [in reference to her hair] and Max responds with “Whoa”-
- -and Dennings actually has to pause to make time for all the raucous laughter that erupt before finishing her line, “Whoa, grammy, keep it PG”
- Sophie puts on accents this episode and it’s the most fun she’s been in a really, really long time. I actually wanted more of it. The line that slayed me: “Pardon me, could you direct me to your . . . Jonathan?”
- The episode ends with Han giving everyone a raise after seeing what staff have to put up with, which is nonsensical because if anything he endures more than absolutely anyone else in the diner on a daily basis.