The Series Philosopher

Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn

S03E12: French kiss and other stereotypes

3x12 The French Kiss - Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) kissing the French chef Nicolas (Gilles Marini)

2 BROKE GIRLS: 3×12 The French Kiss – Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) kissing the French chef Nicolas (Gilles Marini)

Does a series like 2 Broke Girls enhance, diffuse or dedramatize racist stereotypes?

Can we laugh about it?

It is a comedy, it is supposed to make us laugh and it does. We laugh about a short Asian guy looking like a lesbian, about gays wearing make-up, about a one-armed cleaning lady from Eastern Europe, about Jews sometimes… We also laugh when Max says that she cannot compete with her crush’s ex-girlfriend, because she is slim and she is black. Does it make it (less) racist? Does it make us racist? Are we supposed to feel guilty or to be outraged?

In the episode 12 of 2 Broke Girls Season 3 (CBS), Caroline makes out for the first time with her boss, Nicolas, a French “baker master” who runs the Manhattan School of Pastry. They are in a bar with Max (Caroline’s flatmate) and Deke, Max’s partner at the school of pastry. Max has to pretend that she and Caroline have somewhere to go, so that Caroline can meet the challenge of not sleeping with her boss on the first night. When Max and Caroline have left, Deke finds himself alone with Nicolas, who is also his teacher and who is still turned on from kissing Caroline. The situation is already embarrassing enough. But Nicolas’ phone rings. It turns out be his wife! Nicolas is married! Deke is totally astounded, as Nicolas speaks freely and remorseless with his chérie.

On the next day, Deke can’t help telling Max:

DEKE (Eric André, Man Seeking Woman, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23): I have to kinda tell you something that you have to promise me you kinda definitely won’t tell Caroline

MAX: Are you about to tell me that when she speaks French, it makes you wanna slam her head through that plate-glass window too?

DEKE: Well the thing is, he’s married.

MAX: HE’S MARRIED?! How do you know? He’s not wearing a ring and doesn’t seem dead inside.

DEKE: His wife called him after you guys left.

MAX: How can he do that ?

DEKE: He’s French!?

MAX: And not tell Caroline?!

DEKE: He is French!

MAX: What a jerk!

DEKE: FFRRonch?

The humour in 2 Broke Girls is mostly about sexual jokes and “racist” stereotypes. Thomas Hobbes would talk about the superiority theory of humor: if those “racist” jokes make us laugh, it may be because they make us feel superior to the ethnic group we are laughing at. Sigmund Freud defended a relief theory of humor:  in Jokes and Their Relations to The Unconscious, he sees in humor a tool that we use to give rein to our natural impulses, both repressed sexual impulses and repressed malicious impulses.

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2 comments on “S03E12: French kiss and other stereotypes

  1. Pingback: S1E04: What is the difference between a gay joke and a homophobic joke? | The Series Philosopher

  2. Pingback: S01E04: What is the difference between a gay joke and a homophobic joke? | The Series Philosopher

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The Series Philosopher is a blog by P:S • Arts & Entertainment

The Series Philosopher is a woman in her late 20s. Not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

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