Broad City, Season 3, Episodes 2 & 3
I’ve loved Broad City from the very beginning, but I can’t say that there are many episodes that stick out to me as very memorable. It’s a show full of sequences that are hilarious but ultimately fleeting, for me. The third season seems to be breaking out of this. While “Two Chainz” was a fabulous season premiere, these two episodes work to gift dedicated viewers with variations on the show’s established themes.
My cable provider has been slow on updating Comedy Central shows on demand, forcing me to download the app. In a way, I’m happy that I had to wait because these two episodes make a fabulous pair for viewing. The cold open from “Co-Op” even gives a taste of what’s to come in the next episode, “Game Over”, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
“Co-Op” does a great job of subverting expectations. When Ilana says she can’t work her shift because she has a really important doctor’s appointment, we all think it’s going to go in a direction that, while serious in its nature, wouldn’t be out of character for Broad City to get some laughs out of. She’s a modern woman, after all. The way she depends on Lincoln’s support on the way to the doctor’s office makes us believe that our assumptions are right. Then we learn that she’s traveled to her pediatrician’s office in Long Island and she’s afraid of getting a shot. The interactions with her doctor are even funnier because of the misdirection. A second misdirection shows Ilana seeming like she’s upset hearing all the details of Lincoln hooking up with another woman, when actually she’s turned on and it pays off, as well.
It’s a great way to set up the meat (sorry, vegans) of the episode. Abbi covers Ilana’s shift at the co-op and, since this is against co-op rules, she has to dress and act like Ilana. Her impression of Ilana is spot on and super funny. Also great is how awful Ilana is at pretending to be Abbi for a brief moment. Even though it was obvious the plot with Abbi’s co-op love interest would end with Ilana being banned from the co-op, it was fun to see Abbi fully commit to it. Oh, and they are also banned from Whole Foods, which might be a win in disguise.
The cold open of “Co-Op” gives us a peek at Abbi’s competitive side. After beating a group of young boys in a game of basketball, her gloating culminates with deflating their ball and making them cry. We’ve already seen that Abbi can be a bit intense, especially at work, but this scene serves as a reminder before “Game Over”. The trainers have scheduled mandatory team building games and Abbi, having just learned why she had to sweep so much pubes as a cleaner, tries to keep her cool. Her need to win coupled with a reminder of the her past abuse while working as a cleaner leads to Abbi smashing a co-worker’s face in the final event. I laughed and cringed, but all’s well because that kind of intensity is welcome at Soulstice. Now a fully indoctrinated trainer, Abbi’s work life has taken a turn for the better, while Ilana finally pulls out the last straw.
In the past, Ilana seemed untouchable at her job, Deals! Deals! Deals!, much to the dismay of her deskmate, Nicole. When she shows up, with her pigtails pulled through the hood of a dog sweater, we all think this will be yet another work day where she won’t have to deal with the consequences of being an awful employee. This day is different, though, because the company is visited by an important investor, played by the fabulous Vanessa Williams (who even gets to show off her singing a little). Focused on promotion, at first the investor sees Ilana, who is rightfully obsessed with her, as an asset. Ilana seems to have a knack for viral media and would be the perfect person to run their Twitter account. That is until you realize her lack of filter in social situations will inevitably seep into social media.
Watching the episode, I thought the issue would be that Ilana was posting about deals that didn’t exist. Her past doesn’t indicate that she would know their products well enough to tweet about them on demand, but maybe the newfound responsibility – a task she actually enjoys – gives her the motivation to learn. What she does tweet is much worse, in a way. She links a video of a man getting sodomized by a horse to promote a deal on colonics. That’s an hilarious comparison and, as Ilana puts it, it’s not the bad kind of beastiality (my browser says I’m not spelling that right, but I’m too afraid to Google it) because the man is on the receiving end. The company isn’t as pleased with it as Ilana – though she’s right that it got them some much needed attention – and they finally decide to let her go.
This leads to the best moment of the episode, and probably the show. My opinion may be biased because of the place this movie holds in my heart, but that might true for a lot of people around my age and likely the reason why it’s included in the episode. After Ilana’s farewell speech to her co-workers, Nicole has a fantasy sequence in which all of the employees of Deals! Deals! Deals! break out into the rendition of “Joyful, Joyful” from Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (yes, I had to go with the full title). The icing on the cake is a guest appearance from Whoopi Goldberg in nun costume and, just in case you were watching and wondering if she was really on set, she even gets in a bit of a shoving match to steal the spotlight from Nicole. Poor Nicole can’t even be the star of her own fantasy. The episode could have ended there and I would have been delighted. I liked the tag with the girls watching Abbi’s previously mentioned camp freak-out, but the musical number was an absolute high-point.
I hope Broad City keeps this kind of momentum going through the season.