2 Broke Girls Has a Mean Streak — and It’s a Problem

2 BROKE GIRLS is a comedy about two young women who are down on their luck waitressing at a greasy spoon diner who strike up an unexpected friendship in the hopes of launching a successful cupcake business – if they can raise the cash. From left to right: Kat Dennings plays the sassy, street-smart Max, and Beth Behrs plays the former uptown trust fund princess, Caroline. 2 BROKE GIRLS will premiere this Fall, Mondays (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ?2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo: RICHARD CARTWRIGHT/?2011 CBS BROADCASTING, INC. All Rights Reserved.

"You're literally a five-dollar whore right now," Max told Caroline on last night's 2 Broke Girls. She'd previously advised her newly impoverished roommate on how to be a "clever bitch" while shopping at Goodwill, and later in the episode laughed as Caroline got her hair pulled in a low-level girl fight at a bar. Last week, Max delighted in Caroline getting covered in horse diarrhea. The economic-odd-couple setup is one thing, but Max seems to zoom past Schadenfreude to sadism, and while there's plenty of room for all the fish-out-of-water jokes at poor-little-rich-girl Caroline's expense, 2 Broke Girls is running into one major problem: Does it have to be so mean?

Broke is a much more traditional show than New Girl, and it's not as if it can suddenly become a Parks-level mutual admiration society. But while Kat Dennings can surl with the surliest of all surlsters, she and Beth Behrs play off each other extremely well — which is why it would be nice to see them work as a team, or at least drop the constant sniping. Maybe Girls can take a page from The Big Bang Theory playbook. Both shows are about character clashes, about people who reluctantly begin to rely on each other; both fit comfortably in CBS's ultratraditional comedy lineup; and both got off to weird, mean-spirited starts. Big Bang turned it around, though, by finding moments of shared passion, of kindness between the characters. Conflict doesn't have to come solely from characters hating or not understanding each other. There's humor in the unexpected, not just in the unfiltered.