TV Review: Broad City S3E01 Two Chainz
Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.
In its season three premiere, Broad City continues to put the insane in the mundane while also making port a johns and truck hitches funny again in one deftly executed edit. “Two Chainz” follows Ilana and Abbi as they look for a public restroom and get ready for a gallery show featuring Abbi’s old roommate Maxanne (Emily Meade), who looks like a rejected entry for one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens. Writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs show why Broad City is TV’s best hangout TV show while Abbi Jacobson brings the physical comedy and Ilana continues to making everything sexual even as the credits literally roll across the screen as Abbi and Ilana. (To avoid confusion, I’ll be referring to the actresses as Jacobson and Glazer and the characters as Abbi and Ilana. This is what happens when you name your main characters as yourself.) They make the plot and surrounding characters almost irrelevant, except for Hannibal Burress’ Lincoln, who continues to bring one-liners, warmth, and even a little spontaneity in this episode as his “graduation” has nothing do with his steady day job as a dentist.
Broad City’s comedy doesn’t just come from the dialogue and jokes written by Aniello and Downs; a lot of it comes from the set design, editing, and even costuming. The two minute cold open of Ilana and Abbi doing things in the bathroom (Whoa, that came out wrong.) is shot in a split screen style that reminded me of some of Edgar Wright’s work. It is packed with call-backs to the previous seasons, like Abbi with a Bed Bath and Beyond bag and Ilana falling asleep on the toilet after smoking weed, and all kinds of quick gags and character moments that warrants a rewatch. The scene also reintroduces us to Ilana’s amazing wardrobe choices opening with “Female Body Inspector” hinting at her bisexuality to the titular “chain” that is attached to her the entire episode and instant fodder for hilarity because she forgot the basic rule of “phones, key wallet”. Her “Perv” snapback is fantastic too. (Lincoln quips about her being an extra in a DMX music video.)
“Two Chainz” also has a pair of almost sketch-like parodies about the rabidness of shoppers during blowout sales and the art community in general. The first is fairly quick and non-verbal with cuts of various shoppers beating up each other at a 90% off warehouse sale, which Abbi braves to find a public bathroom and get an outfit for the gallery show. It is topped off by a wonderful line, “This is a pop up bitches” and a quick edit to a completely bare store reminding me of those random Halloween stores that sneak into strip malls every September, but more fashion forward. The art parody is more developed if a little predictable stab at the pretentious of the art scene. But the scene lands thanks to the vapid dialogue of Maxanne (“So surreal. So real. At the same time so surreal. At the same time so real.”) and the slapstick skills of Jacobson as she wipes off blue ink from Maxanne’s painting of a fingerprint that took two and a half years to complete while the gallery screams at her. This is also a nice punchline to the running gag of the security tag that Abbi has been trying to take off herself just like Ilana has been trying to take off her chain.
An interesting development in Broad City Season 3 is that Ilana is really amping up her romantic interest in Abbi. It’s all played for laughs for now (It kind of reminds me of the dynamic Spider-Man and Deadpool have in the Spider-Man/Deadpool comic, but Ilana and Abbi have an actual wacky, yet vibrant friendship.), but both Abbi and Ilana let things slip about their possibly less than platonic relationship. Abbi says that Ilana is her girlfriend at the pop up store, and Ilana proposes after Abbi rescues her from being hitched to a truck driven by a porno watching creep. Even if these comes to nothing, Aniello doesn’t shy away from showing Ilana’s bisexuality (and polysexuality) as she does sexy things with both Lincoln and various women in the opening sequence.
One reason I find Broad City so fun and refreshing is that unlike some other show on HBO by a supposed “auteur” showrunner, it’s not interested in making any sweeping statements about being in your twenties, the nature of art, or such navel gazing bullshit. It’s just about two friends trying to makes ends meet and have a good time in New York while having some excellent “stealth feminism” moments, like a stab at the lack of women’s restrooms in a major world city (Marvel Comics’ offices had this problem too.) or Abbi giving a cat-caller a piece of her mind. And “Two Chainz” is a triumphant return for the most fun friendship on TV with a side of hijinks.