TV Review: Broad City S3E05 2016

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Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

In this week’s Broad CityIlana deals with the woes of being unemployed and does some creative things to get money, like being an overenthusiastic bike messenger, doing dance moves on the subway in rainbow colored, and finally an unpaid volunteer at Hilary Clinton . (She thinks it’s paid though.) In Abbi’s storyline, a hairdresser (Who is a sassy gay man. Stereotype, much?) tweaks her neck after she pays with a coupon from Ilana’s old job, Deals, Deals, Deals, which throws her dreams of the perfect DMV photo into disarray. Luckily, her chiropractor Dr. Heller (played with warmth by the legendary Alan Alda) is there to save the day. And there’s a cameo from Clinton herself  at the end that maybe goes on for a little too long, but fits the surreal tone of this episode.

Director Todd Biermann  and writer Chris Kelly go deep into the continuity well in “2016” bringing back references to Trey’s (Paul W. Downs) gay porn career as Ilana’s brother Eliot (played by Glazer’s real life brother Eliot Glazer) finds “enjoyment” in a couple of his videos while Ilana freaks out about working for Clinton. (And Abbi mentions “pegging” in front of the presidential candidate herself.) And, in more of a visual callback, Biermann makes the DMV that Abbi goes to in Queens a mix of a low budget zombie film set, refugee camp, and waiting for the last lifeboat on the Titanic. He makes a nice contrast in lighting between the usual DMV and the “appointment” DMV, which is gaudy, filled with chocolates, a masseuse, and an incredibly polite concierge played with bombastic surrealism by first time actor Andrew Ward. The addition of this room sequence plus the nice subversion of “old people suck at the Internet” trope with Dr. Heller keeps the DMV plot line from being the same old “DMV is hell” joke for half an episode.

And Alan Alda is brilliant in his short scene as Abbi’s chiropractor as he shows genuine care for her by helping to sell her art, asking about her sleep, and evening her bangs after the hatchet job of a haircut. Abbi’s reaction of “I love you” can definitely stand in for the audience’s reaction, and he joins Kelly Ripa, Amy Poehler, and Patricia Clarkson as famous folks, who have shone in Broad City. (He does get to make the slightest of jokes about Abbi’s butt, which is basically a character in the show by now.) Dr. Heller feels like family to Abbi and with the reveal of Abbi’s old pictures on her phone (including her gay high school boyfriend) and next week’s episode taking place in her hometown of Philadelphia, Jacobson could get a chance to flesh out the pre-Ilana version of herself.

And speaking of Ilana, Glazer is pure madcap in her outfits, line deliveries, and body movements throughout “2016” and truly sells her passion for Hillary Clinton. She even gets a rare quiet moment soothing her friend Linda, who owns a temp agency and is going through a midlife crisis while Ilana is going through a quarter life one.  Hooray for intergenerational empathy! Also, a bike messenger is kind of a perfect job for her as she rides around New York via a fastly paced tracking shot from Biermann shouting, “Ass, ass, ass.”  as random passerbyswith her bike helmet/wig combo and makes acrobatic envelope throws. (She’s definitely the best TV bike messenger since Tyres from Spaced., a show that also combined insane surrealism with the harsh reality of life and work as a twentysomething.) There’s no scene of her getting fired so hopefully we get to go on more rides with Ilana. And speaking of firing, Glazer’s almost deadpan tone as she shows Hillary Clinton’s campaign office to Abbi while literally cleaning out her desk is kind of amazing.

Clinton’s cameo could be a great sight gag or a fun surrealist gag (in keeping with “2016’s” tone) a la Madeline Albright showing up in a Season Six episode of Gilmore Girls with a pair of winks, a perfect pantsuit, and Abbi and Ilana’s hilarious reaction. But it kind of rolls on, and Kelly even tries to shoehorn her into the Broad City universe with her adding the inflatable red thing from Ilana’s old job to her campaign office. But what this sequence does get right is how almost any of us would react to one of our heroes appearing out of the blue, and Glazer and Jacobson’s reactions are super genuine and passionate with a side of the slow mo that Broad City directors usually employ when Abbi and Ilana are getting fired up about something.

With a scene stealing guest performance from Alan Alda and some tremendous energy from Glazer, “2016” is a successful dip into the surreal side of the Broad City universe even with the slight awkwardness of the end credits cameo tag featuring a Democratic candidate for president.

Rating: 8.5