October 25th, 2011
08:00 PM ET
New CBS comedy series “2 Broke Girls” is attracting criticism for their portrayal of a Korean character and their alleged use of racial stereotypes.
The character of Korean immigrant Bryce (Han) Lee, as played by Matthew Moy, runs the diner where the “2 Broke Girls” (played by Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs) are employed. As we mentioned in our recap back in September, the only drawback to the series premiere was that Moy's character certainly "walked the line of turning into a stereotype."
CNN's Henry Hanks called it "truly disappointing to see this on an otherwise smart show," and other critics have since chimed in.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that “each week Han’s broken English gets played like some sorry minstrel show.” Questionable jokes include emphasizing Lee’s problems with pronunciation.
Blog Racebending observes that “Lee can’t wear his pants correctly, can’t speak English properly, and doesn’t understand the concept of holidays.”
And it’s not just Bryce Lee. “[T]he ensemble of stock ethnics gave me a migraine,” commented New York Magazine writer Emily Nussbaum of the show’s population.
HitFix reports that the show’s creators, Whitney Cummings (who also stars in “Whitney”), and “Sex and the City” writer Michael Patrick King, claim the diner is representative of the multi-ethnic neighborhood (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) it serves.
"By ethnic characters, I'd say the hipsters,” King said when the question of stereotypes came up during the Television Critics Association press tour. “And Max is sort of the lord and ruler of that diner, so she's going to take everybody down, the hipsters, the immigrants, the girls, and most importantly, herself."
As for the accusation that Bryce Lee is a stereotype, King and Cummings don’t see it. "There's a comic sweetness to him that's an innocence, and the fact he's an immigrant from Korea is part of his character," writer/producer/director King said, noting that the character will be rounded out as the season goes on.
“The character is not dumb,” Cummings added. “He just moved to the country six months ago. He literally doesn't know the language. That doesn't mean he's dumb. In the subsequent episodes, we're going to see how smart he truly is.”
King may be an equal opportunity offender. When asked if a joke about Stephen Hawking (who suffers from the motor neuron disease ALS) would stay in the show, King replied in the affirmative. "Yeah. I think it's funny," he said. “I'm sorry."
“2 Broke Girls” airs Mondays at 8:30 ET/PT on CBS.
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