TV Review: Broad City S3E04 “Rat Pack”
Broad City airs Wednesdays at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.
On this week’s Broad City, Ilana’s hustle game returns as she and her roommate Jaime (played with an extra shot of confidence by Arturo Castro) try to make up the $400 they paid an exterminator to take out a rat in their apartment. There’s a nice play on the boutique of tasty fruit, popcorn, and fancy gift baskets Harry and David with “Larry and David”, and this bountiful basket is the foundation of a house party with a $10 cover charge and a side of every piece of marijuana that Ilana owns in the house. And on Abbi’s side of things, she goes to her first Soulstice trainer party where she is the only one not wearing fitness attire, has one too many alcoholic kombuchas, kisses fellow trainer Trey, and then realizes she needs to meet more.
As it is with basically every episode of Broad City, the cold open is a showcase for some visual panache. This time, director Ryan McFaul goes the handheld camera route and shoots Ilana’s apartment from the rat’s point of view with frantic camera movement and a grainy filter before settling on the great shot of it (later her) munching on Ilana’s latest blunt as she finally wakes up and yells, “Weed thief!” This wild and wacky directing contrasts with the staid, straightforward tone of the exterminator asking for the money and keeping a straight face even as Jaime and Ilana imitate puppy dogs. But McFaul breaks out some style again in a trap music-infused montage of Ilana’s various weed stashes ranging from the inside of a bell pepper to a Russian nesting doll and finally her own curly hair that shows that Broad City can do silent visual comedy as well as it does verbal humor or slapstick.
The presence and possibility of filthy rodents popping up in “Rat Pack” a great nervous tension, but writer Jen Statsky decides to end their saga in a life affirming, drawing parallels with the show’s characters, and still pretty gross moment with the rat having little rat babies snuggled by Ilana. This tender, yet wildly hilarious moment is a callback to Ilana saying earlier that Lincoln, Jaime, and Abbi are her only friends. She might not have a big friend group, but loves the ones she has dearly and involves them in all matter of hijinks.
Unfortunately, Abbi joining Tinder felt a little underdeveloped, especially after the great sight gag earlier in the episode of her wearing a cute, stylish dress to a “work party”, which was a bunch of Soulstice trainers wearing black tanktops and making “that’s what she said” jokes like The Office was still airing. There is the relatable feeling of not being able to find people outside of work and close friends to make out with, but there is so much untapped satirical and comedic fodder left on the table with her dates being the typical old guy, Neo-Nazi, and guy who looks too much like his profile. Abbi not knowing how to swipe left is pretty great though.
On the positive side, this is the first episode since “Citizen Ship” that I enjoyed the character of Jaime as Statsky fills him out a little bit revealing that he only recently came out to his parents (who still live in Guatemala) a few months ago, who haven’t spoken to him since. However, a Larry and David basket with a literal olive branch really perks up his mood, and he exudes confidence by rearranging Ilana’s and his apartment while playing the perfect host to Lincoln’s (Hannibal Burress) Food Network personality in training, Spider-Man quoting head chef. He even gets some romantic sparks towards the end of the episode and gets to firmly, yet kindly point out to Ilana that her famous “Latina” earrings are cultural appropriation as the credits roll. It’s a solid guest performance, and he doesn’t steal the spotlight from Glazer’s frenzied hunt for the rat in the apartment while wearing a cat costume, randomly dancing, and offering opinions on the electronica artist Ratatat and Frank Sinatra and making sure the party doesn’t scatter.
An undercooked online dating subplot aside, “Rat Pack” showcases both Glazer and Ilana at her best: when she’s making money in creative ways even if she doesn’t go to quite the lengths that she did in Broad City‘s first episode where she cleaned a diaper wearing Fred Armisen’s apartment in her underwear to get Lil Wayne tickets.