CBS-TV “Two Broke Girls” Degrades Polish

By on January 5, 2014

I would like to bring attention to a character on the CBS-TV show “Two Broke Girls” named Sophie Kaczynski. A concerned Polish American friend of mine requested that I (and other Polish Americans) should watch this show to see how Polish people are portrayed in it.    It seemed the Polish character for the most part was portrayed in a border line mildly anti-Polish way….but there have been some episodes where the anti-Polish portrayal of the Polish character has stepped over the line.

I think the Polish immigrant character on this show is starting to become problematic for Polish Americans and Polish people in general. At first I had mixed feelings about Sophie Kaczynski. On the one hand she has some positive qualities in that she is a middle age Polish immigrant who is tall and fairly attractive looking and seems like a go-getter in that she runs her own business, dresses up and has an assertive personality.

On the other hand she many times seems emotional, crazy, nasty, backward and puts down the other characters on the show which would then prompt negative remarks about her, including her Polish ancestry.   When Sophie was putting down character Caroline and Caroline got angry, the other character Max (Caroline’s friend)  tried to console Caroline by saying…..just look at her as a “Polish Fart Cushion”… while the Polish character Sophie just laughed along.

As for Sophie’s business…. Sophie calls it “Sophie’s Choice” which is a reference to the controversial anti-Polish movie “Sophie’s Choice” which portrays Poles as backward while the main narrative is where a Polish mother is forced to choose to give up one of her daughters to be killed by the Nazis.      Therefore its backward and appalling that this Polish immigrant named Sophie would call her business “Sophie’s Choice” even if her name is Sophie. But, evidently CBS-TV thinks that’s “humor”.

Sophie Kaczynski also has said “You’ve heard of doctors without borders? Well we were nurses without credentials. Our motto was ‘What? We want to help’”. This again makes a mockery of Poles.

So basically I had mixed feelings with this Polish immigrant character, but I am afraid her presence on the show is a slippery slope towards anti-Polish imagery for the millions of TV viewers. It appears the producer of the show is increasingly creating more situations where Sophie will say more crazy and backward things which in turn prompts another character in the show to put her down and her Polish identity.

Initially, I didn’t think her Polish character was too bad since she had some redeeming qualities as I mentioned before. I also didn’t think the humor about her was necessarily negative like when she said “In Poland she didn’t win any beauty contests because they thought she was “too short”.  At first I thought that could be anti-Polish humor because the inference is that Poles are too dumb to see that she is 6 feet tall….. .or it could be benign humor…. in that the women in Poland are very tall. Basically they are making Polish people look bad by character assassination.

Sophie Kaczynski is starting to be more graphic with her anti-Polish comments. For the past few weeks she would say “Back in Poland”….or reference Poland…… and then say something stupid.

Here are some examples

Oct. 14 – Sophie thinks a cat is a reincarnation of her enemy from Poland and acts afraid of the cat because she really believes it’s a reincarnation of the old enemy of hers from Poland.  This makes her look like a moron.

Oct. 28 – She says she only needs 3 hours of sleep because she sleeps 6 hours during the day.

Nov. 4 – She saw how another character was with a prostitute, thought it was funny joke and says to the other characters while POINTING to her head…..”that’s the kind of thing I think about later and then laugh at” (almost like its implying she is too slow to understand a joke initially) . She also said… “This is a LOL (Laugh out Loud) thing that is good to remember for later. Note: many times what she says sounds awkward by the ridiculous “Polish accent” the producer of the show gave her character.

On Nov.  10 – she said to her friend Carol that she and her friend Oleg “got her back” and implied that they roughed up a guy named “Mike” who stood up Caroline on a date and disrespected Caroline.    Caroline then said to Sophie…..his name wasn’t Mike it was Mark!   Sophie then screams in a stupid way “NO WONDER HE KEPT SCREAMING HIS NAME IS MIKE” as if Sophie was too dumb to rough up the right guy.

On either Nov. 17 or Nov. 24  Sophie Kaczynski has a cleaning lady – with just one functioning arm (the other arm is in a cast) – from her cleaning business come to clean her friend’s apartment. When  the friend says ,”How can she clean my apartment with just one arm?”  Sophie basically says “Well, with my company SOPHIE’S CHOICE, I give you the CHOICE of having half off with just a one armed cleaner!”.

Then on the Dec. 2 show, Sophie gets a text message from her friend Carol about Carol’s nanny dying and then Sophie visits Carol and says “I dressed in Black to mourn for your nanny and also because I JUST GOT my period”…… Sophie continues…..”BACK IN POLAND I was so sad when my nanny died, I COULD BARELY EAT HER!   Carol then says……YOU ATE YOUR DEAD NANNY??? Sophie says…..OF COURSE……she was a goat and the goat has good goat meat! It doesn’t matter her name was nanny”.

So in that anti-Polish dialog by Sophie, she first puts in the brains of millions of American viewers that POLISH PEOPLE EAT DEAD PEOPLE……then it switches to…….POLISH PEOPLE HAVE GOATS FOR NANNIES. Then it switches too she called her goat “Nanny” and that she equates that to Caroline’s deceased human nanny/caretaker person.  What the heck?

Why does CBS-TV have to put such negative imagery about Poles in their shows? The other Black character and Asian character don’t make such degrading comments about their ethnic backgrounds.     Although the chef, whose name is Oleg and is either Russian or Ukrainian, makes similar ridiculous comments. He doesn’t identify those comments with a particular nation (as far as I know)….. although Wikipedia said his identity is either Russian or Ukrainian.     So this show seems anti-Polish if not anti-Slavic.

The bottom line is I don’t think the dialogue coming from this Polish character Sophie Kaczynski, is making Polish people look good.    It’s doing the opposite.

Therefore I would like to request that Polish Americans and their supporters keep an eye on “Two Broke Girls”, (it’s on Monday 8:30PM ET) and this character Sophie Kaczynski. Polish Americans should also tell CBS-TV to stop degrading Polish people in their shows.

Frankly I think a TV network like CBS-TV should show extra sensitivity to Polish people, considering how they have bashed Poles in the past. Their old 1970’s show “All in the Family” created a huge atmosphere of anti-Polish bigotry and prejudice in America with all of the anti-Polish slurs coming from that show, that went into millions of impressionable viewers’ minds. This 1970’s CBS show “All in the Family”….which the producer of the show Norman Lear claimed was supposed to “Stop ethnic bigotry and prejudice in America”…..actually stirred it up……especially against Polish people with all the predominate anti-Polish sound bites and “jokes” against Poles by is main character Archie Bunker.

In the show “All in the Family”, Norman Lear and even the actor who played the bigoted  character “Archie Bunker”… Carol O’Connor…. would tell everyone that the Archie Bunker character’s ethnic slurs and insult jokes would be “rejected by Americans” since Archie Bunker was portrayed as being an arrogant bigoted buffoon.     Although Archie Bunker was portrayed half the time as a bigoted buffoon, the other half of the time the audience was NOT laughing against him but laughing WITH him! Especially when the Polish American character Michael Stivic was doing or saying something stupid like drooling cereal food out of his mouth.

Although “Two Broke Girls” is a different kind of show than “All in the Family”, the producer of the show may try to defend the Polish character in the same way the producer of the show “All in the Family” tried to defend the Polish character in that show.  The producer of “All in the Family” said the Polish character was an “educated man”, but that was counter balanced by him being unemployed, acting like a buffoon with cereal drooling from his mouth or water squirting in his face while trying to fix a faucet while being called repeatedly a “Dumb Polack” by Archie Bunker who the audience LAUGHED WITH. It basically seems with both of these CBS shows that the Polish character is given some TOKEN positive qualities which are outweighed by the anti-Polish imagery and sound bites about the given Polish character and Poland.

For the record, this kind of negative portrayal of Polish people as having inferior/backward intelligence came from Nazi German propaganda. Hitler in two of his speeches….after he invaded Poland……made “jokes” about Polish people having inferior intelligence. SO WHY do American TV networks like CBS-TV CONTINUE de-facto Nazi propaganda against Polish people……when CBS has always told us that the Nazi Germans were bad people? Does CBS-TV secretly admire Nazi German propaganda against Polish people?

Recent episodes can be seen on the  CBS website at http://www.cbs.com/shows/2_broke_girls/

You can contact CBS-TV and give them your feedback on the show at http://www.cbs.com/feedback

Or/And call their headquarters 212-975-4321 and have them connect you to the show feedback department for your comments on the show.

It would also be good to speak out against this anti-Polish imagery on social media like facebook, twitter, etc.

Sincerely,
G. Brezecki

  • Kasia

    Hi, I’m from Poland and I love the show, and the character of Zofia, too. I think her comments about how it was back in Poland are such an absurd no one being sane would believe any of it is true. This humor seems very Monthy Pyton-like and here in Poland we love this kind of sense of humor that loves irony, sarcasm and absurd. Many friends of mine enjoy the show very much. Sofie’s comments – well, we laugh to tears on the absurdity! It is very nice of you to defend Polish image and Poland, but I think you take this series tooo seriously:-)))

    • Maybe in Poland, you can see this as just humor, but in the U.S. people of Polish descent have been put down for years with the “Polish” joke, making Poles to appear as “stupid”, “ignorant”. Believe it or not, many people don’t want to even admit they are Polish because of the stigma. So you really don’t understand. But thank you for your opinion.

    • I am polish and I live in the USA. I also like this character and I laugh to tears as well, but Americans DO take it seriously. Many of them still think, that we have communism, you can buy food for cards and Poland is one big village.
      They ‘learn’ new things about Poland from this show and most of them has no idea how absurd this informations are.

  • NorthEastNews

    “2 Broke Girls” has been using its so called “Polish” character to make degrading remarks against Polish people as if Poles have “inferior intelligence” (if not subhuman intelligence), which is an Anti-Polish stereotype that originated in Nazi Germany. This then prompts the other characters to make Anti-Polish remarks. In one episode the so called “Polish” character Sophie Kaczynski talks about “Polish cat beliefs” (which is on youtube) where she says in so many words “In Poland we believe cats are reincarnations of our enemies…so watch out….a cat is really not a cat”. This then prompted the other character Caroline to say….”Am I the only one who thinks Poland sounds like a REAL FREAK show”?? This Anti-Polish dialog goes on an on in this virulent hateful anti-Polish show “2 Broke Girls”.

    In the April 20, 2015 show the Ukrainian/Russian character talks about “how good the photographers are at the Warsaw Times are….at least the ones with 2 hands”…..insinuating Warsaw Times is so dumb they mostly employ people who have only one hand to do photography ….. that prompts the character Max to mock the Warsaw Times by saying that if Sophie’s wedding (The Polish character) is reported by the Warsaw Times….you have “Gone from the Best of Times to the WARSAW of Times” insinuating that “WARSAW” equals “WORST”. These examples are only the TIP of the iceberg of non-stop Anti-Polish slurs on this vicious Anti-Polish show “2 Broke Girls”.

    CBS-TV CEO Les Moonves should be ashamed of himself for allowing this sick Anti-Polish show “2 Broke Girls” to broadcast on his network, which pushes Nazi propaganda like Anti-Polish malicious humor against Polish people.

    • Cole Semple

      If Americans believe the COMEDIC stereotypes about Poles on the show are true, than you have much bigger problems than Polish jokes on a TV show.

      Most moderately intelligent people know that these jokes are just that, jokes. If you want people to realize Poles ARE intelligent people, then prove it to them! Tell them about Copernicus, Marie Curie, Fryderyk Chopin, Pope John Paul II and all the other great Poles that changed the world IN HUGE WAYS for the better. I myself am a scientist/atheist and Nicholas Copernicus is easily one of the people I most admire in all of history. His discoveries changed the world AND set the stage for important scientific discovery to be done further on. I am also a historian and have studied WWII for 3+ decades. Most WWII experts will tell you that no country in WWII took a beating like Poland. For that fact alone Poland deserves the worlds admiration. Poles are born survivors and in my opinion amongst the most admirable and toughest people on earth.

      But “Polish jokes” are still funny. If we didn’t make fun of each other, there would be no comedy.
      .
      And btw, anti-Polish AND anti-Semitic rhetoric LONG pre-dates Nazism and can be traced to 1700’s Prussia, Austria and Imperial Russia hundreds of years before Nazi Germany even existed, which is partly why Poland fought along side Napoleon against Imperial Russia.

      There is zero “Nazi Propaganda” on this show. To my knowledge the show has not mentioned a “master race” or displayed Swastikas.

      Comparing the show to Nazism downplays and trivializes the suffering of Poles at the hands of the Nazis. Without a doubt, one of the greatest crimes in all of history. To compare the Nazi’ horrendous crimes to a few stupid jokes on a tv show is a far greater offense than the jokes themselves imo.

    • Delin Colón

      You’ve apparently never heard of the famous, acclaimed Czech photographer who had only one arm: Josef Sudek. What an insult to someone of his talent and artistry for you to say a newspaper would be dumb (??? really???) to hire a one-armed photographer. So, now you’re spreading the stereotype that a person with one arm couldn’t possibly be a good photographer. This is your own prejudice and bigotry against people with a physical disability. Take a good look at your own stereotypes before pointing fingers. You’ve just insulted a whole community by calling them inept and incapable. And the early 20th century cameras used by Josef Sudek (1896-1976) were bulky and heavy.

      • Greg M

        I am of southern Slavic descent and have seen anti Slavic retoric of all slavic people for my entire 68 years. The western Europeans think that all Slavic people are stupid, no matter what we accomplish in life. We will always be the enemy, and the less intelligent even when we need to speak with less intelligence for the westerns to understand.. Dosvidania. Greg,,

        • Delin Colón

          And for all of my 66 years, I have witnessed and received anti-Semitic slurs and acts. I understand your anger. Yet, I take people on an individual basis rather than hypocritically stereotyping THEM by saying things like “western Europeans think” this way or all Americans think that way. When you, like them, lump everyone in a group as being alike, you’re just doing the same thing that hate groups do, and fostering divisiveness. I cannot assume that every Muslim or Christian I meet is anti-Jewish, or I’d have missed out on knowing many wonderful people. Nor can I assume that every non-Jew sees me as a money-grubbing, immoral, unwashed, scheming part of some conspiracy to control the world. If I accuse an entire group of all thinking the same way, or assume I have to speak with less intelligence (as you imply is necessary with all westerners – in other words, you’re just turning around the insult), then I’ll be no better than any other bigot in the world. We’re a world of individuals with only brief and temporary residence on this planet. We all need to see each other as members of the same club: the human race. Historically, the “us versus them” mentality only causes more rancor, division, hostility and war…and will ultimately result in the demise of the human race.

  • Delin Colón

    Gee, I saw Sophie as a strong, independent businesswoman who doesn’t take crap from anyone and has a lot of self-esteem (maybe too much). (By the way, the author of the above article doesn’t seem to know that a female goat is called a “nanny” while a male is a “billy.” That’s what the joke is about.)
    But what’s interesting is that I don’t remember anyone being upset about the character of Rose on Golden Girls and how moronically she portrayed the Norwegians of St. Olaf, MN. She recounted customs that were quite ridiculous, but funny. Maybe Norwegians have a sense of humor and knew it was just comedy.
    Jerry Seinfeld did a series that depicted New Yorkers of his generation as shallow, self-absorbed, uncaring people who delighted in and benefitted from the misfortune of others. No one felt insulted.
    And All In The Family’s Polish Michael Stivic was clearly more intelligent & educated than Archie and often stumped Archie with reason and logic. Archie was the one made to look stupid for his views. I didn’t know a soul on Archie’s side. Anyone rooting for Archie obviously didn’t understand the show at all.
    It sounds like people are digging for something to be offended by. It’s an idiosyncratic character in a fictional comedy; it’s not a documentary on Polish life.

    • PostEagleNewspaper

      You don’t understand Delin. Polish jokes and the degrading of an ethnic group is nothing to laugh about. Because of the Polish jokes and making Poles to be “stupid” has really affected many children’s lives. It’s one thing to say your cheap or some other type of stereotype but to label a group “stupid”. As soon as someone does something stupid, some people remark “What are you Polish?” Poles are not held in high regard in many circles. Many people have even been embarrassed that they don’t want to say that they are Polish for fear of being laughed at… Maybe Michael Stivic was more intelligent but he always came across as being the brunt of Archie’s putdowns. You can not compare Jerry Seinfeld’s depiction of New Yorkers to this matter.

      • Delin Colón

        Oh, but I do understand, as a Jew whose grandparents, in tsarist Russia, suffered pogroms in which family members were tortured and killed…as a Jew who has been asked where my horns are and have been called every filthy name in the book. And, no, I don’t laugh at degrading jokes, although I have heard funny Jewish jokes, but the funny ones are not about being money-grubbers or being unclean or swindlers. And, if you were busy gasping in horror at Archie’s put-downs, then you didn’t hear Stivic’s comebacks to them – he always had the last word, leaving Archie frustrated. There is nothing stupid about Sophie, the only successful character in the show (and brilliant at putting down others). And, frankly, I don’t consider myself slow, but there’ve been many times that I’ve only understood a joke or comment after I thought about it. Perhaps you’re one of those brilliant people who understand everything instantly, but some of us have occasion to connect the dots only after the fact. Frankly, I can relate to having to think about something before I “get it.” Now, you didn’t get the nanny joke because you didn’t know that a female goat is called a “nanny” just as a male is called a “billy.” Without that (widely known) information (it’s in the dictionary), it’s easy to see how YOU would think the implication is that Poles are raised by goats, which was not what Sophie was saying or even implying at all. She thought the blond girl was talking about a pet nanny goat. That was pretty clear. There’s nothing stupid about not knowing, when a person says “nanny”, whether they’re talking about a goat or a caretaker. It’s ambiguous, and therein lies the joke. I’ve lived in liberal communities and I’ve lived in rabidly antisemitic communities where I was largely viewed as the scum of the earth. However, I never hid my ethnic origin, resulting in changing the attitude of at least two people who admitted that they had originally hated me for being a Jew, but once they got to know me, realized I wasn’t much different from them, and even came to like me. It’s true that, growing up (in the 1950s) in a liberal Jewish community of adults who had been personally and recently affected by WW II, and well acquainted with persecution, we did not hear jokes that denigrated or stereotyped other ethnicities. But, in the larger world, I’ve learned that there will always be people who stereotype and denigrate. (For the Jews, it began centuries before Nazi Germany.)The best we can do to combat belief in these fabricated stereotypes is to let people know who we are and see for themselves that those assertions are wrong…that every culture has smart people, stupid people, pretty people, ugly people, workers, idlers … that every culture contains a huge variety of individuals, and that each individual has his own personal traits. Perhaps because I grew up around immigrants from Russia and Poland, I did not see Sophie as representative of an entire culture, but as a unique individual, just as I don’t see Oleg as representative of all Russians, but as just one fictional character.

        • PostEagleNewspaper

          If you understand, then you should realize that these stereotypes do not help any ethnic group. You felt the mocking… and if you felt it at an early age it could really do some damage to one’s esteem. Not everyone is strong and deals with it. I understand about Stivic’s comebacks but the average person didn’t zero in on that… they just knew that Michael was always being portrayed as stupid, lazy, etc.
          As for the nanny joke, I don’t watch Two Broke Girls – I refuse to. It’s an insult to my intelligence. I’d rather read a good book.

          • Delin Colón

            Aren’t you the one who wrote this article that referenced the nanny joke? If you are the author of the article, did you base it on other people’s impressions or their misinterpretation of the joke? Because whoever wrote the article didn’t get it and you say you never saw the episode and know nothing of the nanny joke, yet it is referenced in the article.
            And, regarding All in the Family, when you say that “the average person didn’t zero in on” Michael Stivic’s comebacks, are you saying the average person was too stupid to get it? Isn’t that a stereotype? What research bears this out? How do you know how many of us “average people” got it? And, by the way, I don’t know how anyone could think Stivic was portrayed as stupid or lazy, considering he was well established on the show as a full-time political science graduate student at university, constantly involved in human rights causes. Since when do graduate school and political science translate into stupidity and laziness?

  • Patrica

    I just watched the “wedding of sophie “episode. I imagined replacing black in the Polish segments and couldn’t imagine the furor and protests that would take place. I was appalled by this portrayal of a Polish wedding and of Polonians.. It was reminiscent of the 1980’s Polish Jokes when a PolandTAxi Driver asked us “why do you hate us so???? “

  • deerstop

    How about racist jokes about Han Lee, black people etc.?) Sophie gave the girls $20,000 to start their own business, and she’s awesome.