TV Review: Broad City S3E02 Co-Op
Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.
In “Co-Op”, writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs put a Broad City twist on a comedy trope as old as Plautus: mistaken identity. For an entire episode, Abbi is Ilana, and Ilana is Abbi. They swap identities because Ilana still wants to be able to use her Co-Op card to buy tasty produce, but hasn’t It is a perfect opportunity for Abbi Jacobson to do an amazing caricature of Ilana Glazer’s perfomance as Ilana
However, Ilana doesn’t commit to the character at all spending most of the episode freaking out about going to her family doctor Angela (played by stand-up comic Judy Gold) in Long Island and completely geeking out about Lincoln (Hannibal Burress) having sex with another girl. Because poly relationships are completely normal, and Glazer demonstrates this through some uproarious physical comedy that in most sitcoms would be met with angry, melodramatic Grey’s Anatomy style relationship yelling. But this is Broad City, and it’s cool to be in a sexual relationship with multiple people as long as everyone consents. (As Lincoln reminds the rambunctious Ilana when she wants to “trick” his lady friend into having a threesome.) “Co-Op” is a great episode of TV to teach friends and family members about being poly, especially if they ask you if you’re Mormon. (Insert sighing noise.)
Like “Two Chainz”, “Co-Op” most striking visuals from director Ryan McFaul come in the cold open that starts as a commonplace conversation about butts and then swerves into a Muppet Babies version of the street harassment that Ilana and Abbi had to deal with earlier in the show at the basketball court. Abbi tells the rude, pre-pubesecent boys that the only time they’ll touch her boobs is when she’s dunking on them , and the streetball game begins. And this is when things get trippy with a level of slow-mo that would make the Wachowskis and Zack Snyder lose both lunch, breakfast, and their midnight snack to show off Abbi and Ilana’s “sick moves”, including Ilana kissing and twerking on the rim. Of course, they dominate because they’re playing little kids, and McFaul quickly cuts from NBA Jam level of epicness to stark reality with crying kids, who can’t handle TV-MA rated trash talk. Even though the cold open has nothing to with the episode’s plot, it’s an opportunity for McFaul to cut loose and for Jacobson and Glazer to show off their background in sketch comedy.
But it’s not like the other scenes in “Co-Op” are lacking in visual panache, like the extreme close-ups of Abbi as she tries to get into the role of Ilana in both her looks (crop top, pigtails, blingy earrings), speaking patterns (Lots of “yas” and “queen”), and facial expressions. She nails rehearsal, but the real thing is much more difficult with Abbi overplaying Ilana so much that her words are incomprehensible. (Jacobson’s delivery of “queen” as “quayn” to her fellow co-op worker is the funniest part of the episode.) Aniello and Downs even through a romantic wrench in Abbi’s path in the form of Phish fanatic and true believer in the co-op lifestyle, Craig, who is interested in this “Abbi” that “Ilana” keeps mentioning. (He also sports a man bun and can pull off tank tops.) And like a vegan homme fatale (Pardon my French), Craig causes Abbi to blow her cover and speak and act like herself while overselling the Ilana act way too much culminating in twerking.
Unfortunately, Craig and Abbi don’t work out due to Craig’s inability to compromise. He cares more about following the rules of the co-op ruled over by Lori (played by Academy Award winner Melissa Leo in time for Oscar Week), the super fertile and super vegan dictator of all natural and organic food in the five boroughs. Abbi cares more about sticking up for her best friend even if it means losing access to tasty food and relegated to “bodega veggies”. It serves to show you can have all the same interests as someone, but not be compatible as romantic partners or even friends. Human beings are deeper than their lists of top ten movies, albums, books, or comics, and successful relationships have this weird, spark of chemistry that goes beyond matching likes and dislikes. So, Abbi might be an enormous fan of Phish while Ilana doesn’t know a single lyrics, but they are incredible because they have shared experiences and just plain click. And the frank discussion of polysexuality along with Abbi rejecting Craig in favor of Ilana might hint and possible romantic developments in the future for the pair.
“Co-Op” proves the old adage that tropes aren’t bad and has Abbi Jacobson give an excellent performance as Abbi pretending to be Ilana while Ilana Glazer shows a new side of Ilana as she loses her usual cool and freaks out about going to the doctor. And along the way, there is a positive portrayal of polysexuality and some neat use of slow-mo, extreme close-ups, and enclosed spaces, like the Co-op and especially Lori’s office, from director Ryan McFaul.