The CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls has earned a reputation for racist jokes (also for unfunny jokes). You’d like to think that showrunner Michael Patrick King was working on fixing these problems instead of sticking to—and defending—his racist joke guns. Think again.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour yesterday, King reportedly defended the ethnic and racial stereotypes of 2 Broke Girls, calling them “big, bold jokes.” From ThinkProgress:
Michael Patrick King doubled down his defense of the rampant racial and ethnic stereotypes in the show, suggesting that they would not change even in response to notes from the network that suggested ‘dimensionalizing’ the non-white characters in the supporting cast.
Not only that, King dug his heels in and defended his position at the press tour, and it sounds like things got unbearable awkward and awful (awkful?). You can read the A.V. Club’s full report here but highlights include King uttering the phrases “I think our show is a big, ballsy comedy, but it has a bigger heart than it has balls” (on balls), “I like the fact that in the last three episodes we haven’t made an Asian character, we’ve only made short jokes” (on the character of Han, because short jokes have nothing to do with Asian jokes), and “I’m gay! I’m putting in gay stereotypes every week! I don’t find it offensive, any of this. I find it comic to take everybody down, which is what we are doing” (on how it’s fine to be racist if you’re gay). King also said he is “thrilled with everything [they]’re doing” on the show, called the 2 Broke Girls “classy dirty,” and then, in a bizarre turn, mocked a TV critic for being Irish in order to drive home his points about ethnic stereotypes being comedy gold. The joke didn’t go over well, just like the racist jokes on 2 Broke Girls don’t go over well. Because racist humor is lazy, offensive, and, well, racist.
It’s OK, no one has ever made these edgy jokes about Asians being short before!
It’s not as if people who write broad comedy based on stale stereotypes don’t realize that they’re being racist, but King’s defending himself and refusing to change—even when the network itself is asking for more (and they’re usually the last ones to complain about shitty jokes)—takes it to the next level. It’s one thing to make a few (OK, 13 episodes’ worth of) missteps and correct them when you receive feedback that your work is offensive, but it’s quite another to say that you know your work is offensive but you don’t care because it’s “ballsy.” Anyone can make a mistake, but it takes a special kind of asshole to not only defend his mistakes, but back them up with an Irish joke and a promise more where those came from. (For more on this special kind of asshole, see Ryan Murphy, who refused an invitation to attend a roundtable discussion about depictions of disability in pop culture.)
2 Broke Girls is, inexplicably, this season’s breakaway hit, and as long as that’s the case I doubt we’ll see King changing his equal-opportunity-racism-is-fine-now tune. Here’s hoping that his blatant, stubborn bigotry leads to the lower ratings this show—and any show that bases its humor in stereotypes and jackassery—deserves.
- “Michael Patrick King Defends ‘2 Broke Girls’ Stereotypes: ‘I Don’t Find It Offensive, Any Of This’” by Alyssa Rosenberg (Think Progress)
- “2 Broke Girls co-creator defends show’s racial humor in worst possible terms” by Todd VanDerWerff (A.V. Club)
- “2 Broke Girls Not Particularly Interested In Being Less Racist” by Amos Barshad (Grantland)
- “Michael Patrick King Has a Meltdown at 2 Broke Girls’ Panel” by Josef Adalian (Vulture)