Could Max and Caroline Afford Their Brooklyn Pad in ‘2 Broke Girls’?

A recently-disgraced heiress meets a graduate of the school of hard knocks and is instantly invited to move in. Together the duo becomes unlikely best friends and business partners, but they remain broke. That’s the premise of 2 Broke Girls. While the series was a fan favorite during its run on CBS, there are some financial plot holes that the writers don’t manage to fill during the series’ six-season run.

Is the portrayal of Williamsburg in 2 Broke Girls realistic?

2 Broke Girls, while funny in its own way, really does get the vibe of Williamsburg completely wrong. It’s as if the writers visited the neighborhood in the late 1990s and failed to update the script for the post-9/11 world. Williamsburg is no longer unsafe, in fact, the community is mostly inhabited by hipsters and professional families who have been priced out of Manhattan.  New buildings with luxury amenities have cropped up in recent years, and while a couple of run-down apartment buildings and former one-family homes carved into multiple apartments do exist, they still come at a premium.

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River
The Brooklyn Bridge | Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Max lectures Caroline on the proper way to act while in the ‘Burg. She tells her wearing a nice leather jacket will get her mugged, and she suggests that leaving the diner alone is a surefire way to get robbed. Neither is true. In fact, the well-dressed diner patrons are proof of the safety of the neighborhood. According to Safer Travel, South Williamsburg, where the show is believed to be set, is among the safest areas in the borough. Sure, Brooklyn still has some rough areas, but Max and Caroline don’t seem to live there.

How much would Max and Caroline make at their diner jobs?

New York City recently raised the minimum wage for fast-food employees. However, the rules don’t extend to waitstaff at eateries that allow tipping. According to Nolo, an NYC waiter or waitress may be paid less than minimum wage, as long as the amount they make in tips brings their hourly rate up to the city’s minimum wage rate.

The minimum wage in New York City is currently set at $13.50 for employers with under 10 employees. The diner would most likely qualify for this rate. If Max is making minimum wage and working a 40-hour workweek, she could expect to bring home $2,160 before taxes. After taxes, Max’s take-home pay would be just over $1800 per month.

With Caroline working the same job, it’s safe to assume the duo has about $3,700 per month to play with. If they are paying the going rate for rent, they’d be able to just keep the lights on, but not by much. What we do know, however, is that Max is afraid to answer her home phone in case the landlord is looking for the actual tenant. This trope might explain how the pair can swing the apartment. If the old tenant’s rent was deeply reduced due to rent-control, Max and Caroline might have a lot more financial wiggle room. How much they are paying, however, is never disclosed.

Can Max and Caroline really afford to live there?

While the writers worked pretty hard to make Max and Caroline’s neighborhood seem pretty rough, the fact remains that it isn’t all that bad. In fact, it’s so not bad that it’s unlikely the duo could really afford the rent. Max was living with a deadbeat boyfriend at the start of the show. It’s safe to assume he didn’t throw in any money for rent. Caroline, recently poverty-stricken, wasn’t throwing in anything to cover the bills at first, either.

Someone like Max could expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000 per month for the rundown one-bedroom apartment. While cheaper apartments can be had, backyard access comes at a premium, even in Brooklyn. Once Caroline moves in, they also need to take care of the horse they allow to reside in the backyard. The duo would likely be priced out of their current neighborhood, but it’s plausible that they could swing rent in one of the less trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Add in care for a horse, and the pastry school tuition and the number are less and less likely to work. Now, if that cupcake business ever catapulted the friends to fame and fortune, they’d be in business. Their diner paychecks, however, just wouldn’t cut it in Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods.