Michael Patrick King Has a Meltdown at 2 Broke Girls’ Panel

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 03: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King speaks during the '2 Broke Girls' panel during the CBS portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 3, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Photo: Frederick M. Brown/2011 Getty Images

While 2 Broke Girls is this season’s biggest comedy hit, it’s taken some heat from certain critics for its frequent use of ethnic stereotypes, sociological stereotypes … and the word vagina. Today, creator Michael Patrick King met said critics in Pasadena, and, well, pretty much all hell broke loose. During his roughly 30-minute session with scribes, King was barraged with a slew of questions focusing on the show’s use of caricatures and suggestive language. At first, he took things in stride: “Our show is a big, ballsy comedy, but it has a bigger heart than it has balls,” King said. So far, so good. But the questions kept coming: Why are there so many Asian jokes? What are the standards for jokes about “facials”? Has CBS asked you to make changes to the supporting characters? Pretty soon, King was all but throwing up his hands in frustration, at one point exclaiming, “I’m gay!” to justify the intent behind some of the show’s jokes. After the session, King told Vulture he was taken aback by the questions. But when HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall tried to explain to King that there were some in the room, including him, who felt the great parts of 2 Broke (the relationship between Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs) were being weakened by the not-so-great parts (the Sexist Chef), King simply turned his back to Sepinwall (and a handful of other reporters) and walked away. #Awkward!

As noted, the session started out only semi-awkwardly. King, echoing comments he made before the show launched, talked about how the broad portrayals on the show are okay since “so many [groups] are represented.” Someone asked about Matthew Moy’s character, Han Lee; most of the jokes about him stem from his speaking in broken English and being short. But King made no apologies: “I like the fact that he’s an immigrant. I like the fact that he’s trying to fit into America. I like the fact that in the last three episodes [filmed], we’ve only made short jokes.” One reporter then brought up comments earlier in the day by CBS chief Nina Tassler, who, while very much sticking up for 2 Broke and expressing her happiness with the show, did say that as part of regular conversations with King, she had discussed the idea of “dimensionalizing” some of the supporting characters. King seemed to take issue with this idea: “I don’t think the characters were [ever] one-note,” he said, adding that because so much of the show is about Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs’s characters, there hasn’t been much time to add depth to the other regulars. King seemed to be both denying he’d been asked to make changes while at the same time hinting that maybe he hadn’t fully fleshed them out. So the reporter persisted, and King started to snap: “I will call you in five years and you will see if these characters are further fleshed out.” Later in the session, when the reporter persisted in trying to find out whether or not King had made changes to the show at the behest of CBS, King asked the reporter his name (it was Tim Molloy of “So you’re Irish,” King said. “I’m Irish. We’ve identified your sexual problem.”

Molloy actually hadn’t asked about the risqué humor on 2 Broke Girls, but plenty of other reporters did. And King did not like this. He protested: “I think our jokes are classy dirty. Highbrow lowbrow,” he said. But when pressed to defend the episode in which a character used the words “wad of cash” to represent … well, something else, King pretty much denied he had ever done such a thing, and then argued there was nothing wrong with “naughty” humor. “This is Monday nights on CBS in 2012. It’s a very different world … than 1994,” he said. The questioning again shifted to the ethnic stereotypes on the show, and eventually, King exploded. “I’m gay!” he said, adding that he found “it comedic to take everyone down.” And he argued that viewers don’t seem to have any problem with the show’s humor: “People pull away from something if it’s not of good taste. People lean into something if it’s okay.”

After the incredibly tense session, Vulture went up to King and asked if he was surprised. “I was,” he admitted. “I thought it was going to be a blast.”

Michael Patrick King Has a Meltdown at 2 Broke Girls’ Panel