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2.24.2011

cbs pilot two broke girls: seriously, you named the asian character "rice lee"?

Oh boy. So the other day, I get these audition sides passed along to me, for Two Broke Girls, the new CBS comedy from Sex and the City creator Michael Patrick King. The show is described as a "multi-camera comedy about two 22-year-old girls who tackle life in New York: two broke girls, one expensive city."

The show -- at least, the pilot episode -- features an Asian character named Han Lee, described in the script as 33, Korean Born, Lovable, Thin Man; Thick Accent. And it's pretty much downhill from there.

From what I've seen, the running joke appears to be that Han Lee adopts a new, more "American" name ("Bryce Lee" -- which at some point becomes "Rice") and is constantly getting his funny-but-lovable bad English corrected. I'm reposting relevant parts of the script below:
INT. DINER - THE NEXT NIGHT

MAX ENTERS, WEARING A COOL VINTAGE COAT AND CARRYING A TRAY COVERED IN TINFOIL. HAN LEE (33, KOREAN BORN, LOVABLE, THIN MAN; THICK ACCENT) COMES OUT FROM THE KITCHEN. HE IS DRESSED VERY "AMERICAN PREPPY" BUT HAS HIS KHAKI PANTS BELTED UP WAY TOO HIGH ON HIS TORSO. LEE HOLDS OUT A PAY ENVELOPE TO MAX.

LEE

Hello today. I have check for you.

MAX GLANCES AT HIS PANTS AS SHE TAKES THE CHECK.

MAX

Thanks, camel toe.

LEE

What means camel toe?

SHE POINTS TO HIS CROTCH WHERE THE PANTS ARE HIKED UP. HE LOOKS DOWN, EMBARRASSED.

LEE(CONT'D)

Oh. Okay.

HE TURNS AROUND AND TUGS ON HIS PANTS, PULLING THEM LOWER. HE TURNS BACK AND LOOKS TO MAX FOR APPROVAL. SHE NODS.

MAX

Nailed it. Way to go, Han.

LEE

I am no longer Han Lee. I have a new American name to go with changing neighborhood.

MAX

To go with the changing neighborhood--the changing neighborhood. We've gone over this.

LEE

Oh, Okay. The changing neighborhood.

HE POINTS TO HIS NAME TAG. SHE LOOKS. THEN BACK UP AT HIM.

MAX

"Bryce"? Your name is Bryce Lee?

(OFF HIS NOD) I can't decide if that's racism or plagiarism.
Ha! Asian man in funny pants. The hijinks continue. Page 10:
LEE

Why no? Blonde good for business and she worked in all good restaurants in Manhattan.

MAX

You are not hiring someone who refers to the color yellow as "mustard." No way, Rice.

LEE

It's Bryce.

MAX

You don't pronounce your R's, I don't pronounce by B's.

LEE

You show her strings.

MAX

Ropes. And no. That would require me to be patient and listen and that's just not my thing.

MAX TURNS AND LEAVES. LEE FOLLOWS AFTER HER.
Ooohhh snap! You see what they did there? With the mixing of the Rs and Ls joke? Damn, that is some original shit. And "Rice"? Who is the comedy genius coming up with this stuff? And it continues on page 22:
LEE COMES OUT FROM THE KITCHEN CARRYING A WHITE PLASTIC CHRISTMAS TREE LOADED WITH LIGHTS AND ORNAMENTS. EXTENSION CORDS TRAIL BEHIND. HE PUTS IT ON THE COUNTER AND SMILES.

MAX (CONT'D)

Rice. Come on. What are you doing?

LEE

Christmas tree. Americans like holidays.

MAX

It's September.

CAROLINE

I think it's pretty

LEE

(TO CAROLINE) Don't encourage this. (THEN TO LEE) You give me no choice. Holiday pop quiz: February.

LEE

(QUICKLY)
Valentines.

MAX

April?

LEE

Easters bunny.

MAX

October?

LEE THINKS. NOTHING. BEHIND MAX CAROLINE TRIES TO HELP HIM BY MOUTHING "HALLOWEEN" AND MAKES "BOO" MOTIONS LIKE SHE'S SCARING SOMEONE. MAX LOOKS OVER AND BUSTS CAROLINE MID-BOO.

LEE

Oh. Halloweens!

MAX

(TO CAROLINE) If you help him how will he learn?

LEE

What is September?

MAX

September has nothing.

BEAT. LEE LOOKS DISAPPOINTED. VERY DISAPPOINTED.

MAX (CONT'D)

Fine, you can have Halloween early. Three pumpkins and that's it.

LEE

Oh, okay.

LEE, DELIGHTED, PICKS UP THE TREE AND WALKS AWAY. MAX GETS UP AND PUT ON HER COAT. CAROLINE FOLLOWS, PUTTING ON A FANCY, EXPENSIVE LEATHER JACKET.
Isn't it great? These kind, know-it-all white girls teaching the wide-eyed, dumbass new immigrant about American customs and holidays? The way this guy is acting, they must not celebrate Christmas in Korea. Oh, wait. But they do.

I'm not making any of this up. This is an actual pilot, written by comedian Whitney Cummings and starring Kat Dennings. I've got no problem with the premise of this show, but all this cultural competence nonsense surrounding the Asian character is utterly idiotic. Someone appears to have created this character in a fit of inspiration after watching Sixteen Candles.

I'm all for more interesting, multi-dimensional Asian American characters on network television, and there have definitely been some solid strides made in recent years... but this does not sound good. I pray that this character gets re-tooled before they go into production. (Thanks, Ken.)