Sit coms shows commonly try to display our core values in overdramatized and comedic fashion. “Two Broke Girls” follows two girls, Caroline and Max who live in Brooklyn and are barely making enough money to live on. In Season 5 Episode 7, Caroline learns that her Grandma Astrid has come out of a coma and wants Caroline to throw her a coming out party. Her grandma was in the coma when Caroline and her family lost all of their money and Caroline is informed that it is her that must inform her grandmother of the unfortunate news.
Caroline is worried about upsetting her grandmother so she pretends to still be part of the wealthy, upper class. During the coming out party, Astrid’s use of powerful language and paralanguage causes Caroline realize that she values her friends more than her previous status of wealth and demonstrates this through her switch to accommodation and her change in physical appearance. Astrid’s use of powerful language helps her demonstrate her social status and her dominance over the staff, who are also Caroline’s friends.
Powerful language is language that is fluent and direct. It does not have any powerless aspects such as using hesitations, disclaimers or hedges. In the scene, Max pretends to be Astrid’s maid and goes by the name Maria. Astrid constantly commands her using short blunt phrases. She tells Maria “now go! ” when she shatters a crystal vase and “Maria, look alive! ” when she feels that Maria is not working at her fullest potential. It creates a separation between Astrid and the help. This language is creating a greater gap between their two economic and social classes.
The commandment and expectations that are demonstrated through the powerful language shows that Astrid is part of the wealthy class and has a higher social position than Maria. Her use of powerful language shows that she her staff and her dehumanization of them. She does not allow for human error and does not care about her effect on the staff. When Maria breaks a crystal vase, Astrid says “Its not replicable, unlike you. Now go! “. She is dominating the situation and showing her control over Maria’s job.
The powerful language further demonstrates her values, showing that she cares more about a material object than the treatment of her staff. She had no problem vocalizing her dissatisfaction with Maria’s job performance and does not decrease the harshness of her opinion through disclaimers or hedges, which many people would use to avoid direct confrontation. Caroline also practices powerful language when talking with the staff. She tells Max, “Maria, just do it. Go” When her friend hesitates fixing Astrid’s hair. Caroline does not allow for resistance against what she asked.
Typically, this type of language would not be used between friends, however while Caroline is pretending to be apart of the upper class, she switches to powerful language. In contrast to Astrid, some of the staff use powerless language. This is another example of how this language creates a separation between those being the wealthy and their staff. The two male servers ask “Can I go? ” and “Maybe I should go to? “. Using the word maybe is a qualifier which sounds hesitant. The two want to leave, however need to ask permission.
If they were to switch and use powerful language, they would replace these questions with direct statement. The use of powerless language helps support the difference communications used by the different classes. Additionally, Astrid uses powerful language when speaking to her granddaughter, Caroline. When Caroline rushes over to pick up the broken crystal on the ground, Astrid says “Get up off that floor! You are not one of them”. In this sentence she is not giving the option of getting off the floor, but rather demanding Caroline to follow her instructions.
She is extending her identity of being part of the higher class to her granddaughter through creating a separation between the help and Caroline. Astrid is asserting her family’s importance by segregating them from those who serve them. Astrid’s reaction to Caroline picking up the crystal causes her to realize that there is no longer a separation between her and the staff. She confronts the truth that she no longer belongs to the elite class and it pushes her to confess the truth about being a broke waiter. When she confesses the truth she switches out from using powerful language towards any of her coworkers.
Powerful and powerless language helps separate the two classes and forces Caroline to realize that she no longer has the desire to be part of the wealthy culture, which is demonstrated through Caroline’s speech accommodation. Astrid’s separation from the lower class and her perception of her class standing is further emphasized through her use of paralanguage. Astrid uses paralanguage during her coming out party to create a separation between herself and those who are pretending to be her staff. Paralanguage are variations in the voice that include pitch, tone and volume. Astrid uses paralanguage when she says “Now Go” to Maria.
She increases her volume and uses a harsh, sharp tone. This helps emphasize her frustration with the help. This is further supported when she tells Maria, “Maria, look alive! ” because she uses a stern tone once again, sounding as if she is criticizing her. This paralanguage helps distinguish her from the lower class that is her staff and shows her disrespect for them. Astrid uses pitch as a way of highlighting that she believes Caroline is not part of the working class and it is wrong to help clean when that is their job. This is shown when she tells Caroline, “You are not one of them”.
Her pitch goes up when she says you, stressing the difference between the staff and Caroline. Astrid’s confusion and jarring speech helps Caroline realize how mistreated her friends were after all they did was help. It encourages her to reveal the truth and display her true self as the “help”. Speech accommodation further promotes the change that Caroline makes. Accommodation is how Caroline adjusted and switches her language she uses with her grandmother and friends. Communication Accommodation theory is how language and identity effect communication in the various contexts that occur in the lunch.
At the beginning of the lunch Caroline commands her friends through actions such as telling Maria to “do something” and summoning the chef upon her request. With these actions she is trying to move towards her Grandma’s expectations, become part of the upper class. To move towards a group is to gain their acceptance and establish a belonging within the group. In contrast, to move away is to distinguish from a group. Caroline continues further to accomplish moving towards the elite class through copying her grandmothers action of ringing the bell and expecting a response from the staff.
She additionally criticizes the staff’s work ethics through telling her friend “Maria, forks, now” when Maria does not organize the forks properly. Caroline is desperate to please her grandmother and does her best to embody the wealthy class. She is moving away from her role as a server by disassociating her self from her co-workers and treating them as if they were her staff. She mimics Astrid’s actions, and uses harsh, commanding and aggressive language to convince her grandmother that she is still part of the elite class and nothing has changed during her coma.
Eventually she realizes that she is not being her true self. This causes her to switch the groups she is moving towards and away from. Caroline begins to show her grandma that she now identifies with the people they’ve been calling the help and even recognizes them from her family. The word family, helps demonstrate how close she actually feels with her co-staff and emphasizes her belonging within the group. The switch in accommodation revels how she stops resisting the group she belongs to and except that she is no longer a part of the elite class.
Caroline’s change in physical appearance also emphasizes her acceptance of her group identification. Physical appearance and artifacts are used in the scene to represent the contrast between wealthy Caroline and waitress Caroline. Physical appearance has the ability to alter people’s perception of one’s character. Artifacts are accessories that one may carry that can be use for either identification or decoration. When Caroline first arrives to the lunch, she changes into one of Astrid’s Chanel suit and puts her hair up into an updo.
Both of these help support her illusion of still maintaining her family’s fortune. Chanel is an expensive designer brand and the suit most likely cost thousands of dollars, therefore it signifies that she is still part of the elite class. An updo hairstyle is typically reserved for fancy events, placing significance on the coming out party. These features contrast with her waiter uniform. When Caroline reveled to her grandmother that she was a broke waiter and no longer had her family’s wealth, she removed the Chanel suit to display her uniform.
The uniform is made of cheap materials and are an unattractive mixture of red and yellow. It also includes an apron which serves an artifact, signifying that her job is as a waitress. This uniform communicates with her surrounding that she holds a waitress job and most likely makes very little money. It helps emphasize the changes in her life that she is explaining to her grandmother. The physical appearance of Caroline helps to show her grandmother what she truly is and what she feels she truly belongs with.