Alright, so going into this show I was primarily worried about 2 things. 1) That I would get really annoyed by Caroline. 2) That all the good jokes were in the previews. But, I was willing to give it a shot, and so I have.
The show is set in New York City. Williamsburg to be exact, with the primary location being The Williamsburg Diner, where the girls work. When we first see the diner only Max Black (Kat Dennings) works there. The second waitress is an unseen Russian, Paulina, who leaves her tables waiting to have a quickie in the storage room. That leads to my favorite scene from the previews, where Max confronts the two hipsters, one of whom was snapping his fingers at her. She sets him straight right quick, and when his buddy tries to tease him about being ‘burned’ she responds “Oh. No, Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team. We have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out. You wear knit hats because of Coldplay.” She gets right in their faces about it and it’s a thing of beauty. After they politely explain their waitress disappeared and they’d like horseradish please, she leaves to get it and discovers the waitress in the back room. Another person first introduced in this first scene is Oleg (Jonathon Kite), the cook, he’s Ukrainian and a major sleaze. He likes to think he’s a smooth player but really he’s just a kind of annoying, mildly funny, dude. More on him in a bit.
After an extremely catchy theme song, “Second Chance” by Peter, Bjorn and John, we return the next day to the diner as Max comes in to work and discover the second result of the Paulina’s romp in the storage closet. Earl (Garrett Morris), the 75 year old cashier who always is wearing headphones, informs Max of this when she stops to offer him a Red Velvet Cupcake for his birthday. I admit I had no idea what the heck Earl did there for most of the episode, until I saw the small cashier sign. I actually thought this weird diner had an in-house DJ. Which I think he also does.
Max takes the rest of the cupcakes she made to a covered stand on the counter and puts them inside for sale while talking to the owner. Mr. Han Lee (Matthew Moy) is a petite Chinese immigrant making this an extremely diverse cast! He is attempting to be more American, changing his name to Bryce, and Max helps him with his grammar as he messes up. Mr. Lee has hired Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) to replace the other waitress, saying she’s waited tables at some of the best places in Manhattan. As Max later finds out, it’s more like she waited for tables, and even then not much of a wait. While training her Max reveals the diner used to belong to the Russian mob, but Mr. Lee bought it “and ruined it.” Oleg is also around and does his part in training Caroline by hitting on her and Max and calling Caroline “Barbie.”
Max puts Caroline to the test as a waitress, asking her to marry the ketchup. Now, for those who don’t know (like Caroline) marrying the ketchup is the term for combining half empty bottles of ketchup to make full bottles. It’s not lining them up in pairs like she did. Max then asks her to divorce the ketchup, and as Caroline separates them Max breaks in and says what we’re all thinking, “there’s no such thing as divorcing the ketchup.” Max calls her out on her lack of experience and compares her to Temple Grandin. Caroline explains that her family were billionaires but lost everything, all their money and assets frozen and being used for legal fees, thanks to her father. “What, are you Martin Channing’s daughter?” Max asks snarkily. Caroline’s “uh, yeah” face wipes the snarky smile off Max as she dives for a paper, holding it up to compare the front page convict with his flesh and blood offspring. Martin Channing is a Madoff type, who has been convicted of a Ponzi scheme and ruined the lives of bunches of families, including his own. Which is how Wharton educated, 2300 on her SATs gettin’ Caroline finds herself broke and homeless with only the stuff she could grab quickly. And she grabbed all the wrong stuff. This seems like an awful lot of exposition, which I expect from a first episode, but it really flowed well and didn’t seem like I was being spoon-fed back story.
Max looks for some family resemblance.
While splitting tips after their shift Caroline suggests they secretly jack up the price on the cupcakes and pocket the difference. Max clarifies that they would be screwing over the person who made the cupcakes. Caroline confirms and Max reveals she made them, but doubts anyone would pay $7.00 for a cupcake. (Sorry kids, I’m on Max’s side here!) Luckily for them some people are freakin’ morons. Caroline has already sold a bunch at the higher price, and pulls that cash out of her purse. Max counts the money and comments “At least we know you’re not adopted.”
After Caroline and Max part ways, Caroline saying she’s staying with a friend, we visit the second primary location in the show, Max’s apartment, and meet another character. Where her boyfriend Robbie (Noah Mills) and his “band,” and I use that term VERY loosely, are sitting around “practicing” again, I use this term loosely, without instruments. Max quickly kicks them out as it’s 3am, she still has to make cupcakes and sleep and be uptown by 10am. Robbie tries to distract her to the bedroom for at least a few minutes, and after removing his shirt she finally gives in, “Fine, you can have 8, 1 for each ab.”
The next day sees some of the funniest stuff, including Max accidentally kissing another woman on the subway when it jerks to a start. After Max finds, and is tasered by, Caroline, who slept on the subway, she is given that woman’s number just before getting off the subway to take Caroline back to her apartment. Max leaves Caroline in her bare apartment to get cleaned up and ready for work, telling her Robbie is sleeping and that she (Max) has to go to her second job. This concept amazes Caroline, and Max tells her that she babysits for a Manhattan socialite diva, and that now she has a matching set.
Said diva is named Peach (Brooke Lyons), and she’s far ditzier than Caroline. By now I’ve transferred my concerns off of Caroline and squarely onto Peach. Caroline is smart, and I can get behind that. I was worried they’d write her like Peach, whom is thankfully a smaller character. After all, she named her twins Brad and Angelina and actually calls them Brangelina. But Peach serves a purpose here, she and her husband were victims of the Channing Ponzi Scheme, except for that they lost no money, they just almost did. This opening allows Max to find out more about Caroline, including that she lost everything, including her friends. Peach heard she went to 6 different friends in the city looking for a place to live, and they all pretended to not be home. HARSH.
Between this and the next scene with Max in the diner about to tell Caroline about what she found out there’s an almost throw away scene at Max’s place where Robbie hits on Caroline. The only important things are that it happens and the Caroline is not into it, telling him “Back up Jersey Shore.” Hee. But when Caroline tells Max at the diner Max doesn’t believe her and storms out, leaving Caroline to work alone.
At least until Max walks in on the jerk cheating on her. His explanation was that he didn’t expect her home so soon. Fortunately Max looks past those cut thingy hips bones that make smart girls dumb long enough to break up with him and kick his butt to the curb. I now suggest Max get herself to a clinic to be tested.
Back at the diner Max comes in to get back to work and make nice with Caroline. Earl is shocked and immediately points out Caroline working her flat tushy off. Max comes to help her, and thanks her for encouraging Max that she could do better. Oleg hits on Max, who responds, “You know what Oleg? I needed that.” Which is a truth ya’ll. Sometimes a girl just needs to be hit on to get a confidence boost. After their shift Max invites Caroline to stay with her, and says they’ll go get some of her stuff the next day. The only thing they can get is Chestnut, Caroline’s horse, whom now lives in the backyard of Max’s place. The show ends with the girls sitting on Chestnut in the backyard, drinking Starbucks and talking. Caroline was thinking and came up with a plan to open a cupcake business, utilizing her business degree and Max’s baking skills, saying they’d only need $250,000.00 which they could raise in about a year if they each work two jobs. The end title card pops up their total thus far: $387.25
Okay so here’s the overall thoughts on this episode and show thus far. It’s cute, and while most jokes were shown in previews, I won’t hold that against them yet, since they did need to hype it. I really love Max’s attitude, and I think Beth and Kat play well off each other! I’m pleased that Caroline is being written as smart but sheltered, and not just dumb. So I’ll be tuning in again!
Verdict: Yay! The show has some real potential. I’m relieved to find that Caroline is written smart and well. It is funny, I’m just hoping that it keeps it up!