TV Review: Broad City S3E10 “Jews On A Plane”
Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.
Whereas previous Broad City finales have gone expansive and used all of New York as a canvas (See “St. Marks” and even non-stop running/tracking shot Season 2 finale over the Broad City featuring an Amy Poehler cameo.), “Jews On A Plane” stays very tight and contained. The entire plot happens while Abbi and Ilana are on the flight to Israel to be a part of Birthmark (A parody of Birthright.), a free trip to Israel for young Jewish people to learn about their heritage and maybe even make babies. (And it’s not without its controversies, including its treatment of Palestinians and the two state solution as I discussed in my last review.) And unfortunately Abbi gets her period after she and Ilana finally play the world’s biggest game of Tetris and end him sitting one seat away each other with a guy between them, who is asleep, so they treat themselves to his headphones and a free movie. He turns out to be dead. This turn of events is a cliche, but it’s fun to see Abbi and Ilana show off their hustle in high altitude.
“Jews On A Plane” is excellent satire of American society’s stigma about women and their periods, and how privilege plays into this between Abbi’s yelps of pain. For example, while Abbi and Ilana are bemoaning the long line for the bathroom as Ilana McGyvers a makeshift tampon from pita, string, and other sundries, she says that this is how homeless women must feel. Then, there’s a pause and a moment of silence from director John Lee, and you can almost hear Ilana and Abbi catching their privilege especially after Abbi says something about choosing between food and tampons. This is a serious discussion and leads into the declaration that tampons can be free. (They’re not free yet, but some states are starting to remove the absurd “tampon tax” when freakin Viagara is tax exempt.) There is also a momentarily humorous and just plain real moment when Abbi and Ilana are looking for tampons amongst their fellow passengers, and Abbi talking to an older woman not realizing that she’s going through menopause. The actress playing the menopausal woman delivers an amazing line about women with menopause not getting representation in pop culture, and it’s very cutting. Throughout “Jews On A Plane, Glazer and Jacobson aren’t afraid to use Abbi’s period for comedy and to spur on the plot’s main action which is Abbi and Ilana’s epic quest to get a packet of tampons in first class while the flight attendants are on their own mission.
An interesting thing about “Jews on a Plane” is that writers Glazer and Jacobson spend quite a bit of time developing and looking into the characters of two flight attendants played by Tymberlee Hill and Annie Lee. Mona (Hill) is freaking out about not having anything to tell her old high school classmates at their upcoming reunion and is cycling through fictitious ones like being Beyonce’s nanny to stealing some of Annie Lee’s one like getting a bone marrow transplant. Their dialogue isn’t super funny, and they aren’t compassionate towards Abbi’s tampon-less plight, but they definitely share a bond. (Except midway in the episode, Lee says that she is tired of Mona only talking about herself, and that she doesn’t “like” her.) And this bond and desire to be the stars of their own quirky little story (Much like every episode of Broad City.) leads to them thinking Abbi and Ilana are terrorists and tackling them in a fun slow motion sequence featuring Lee checking her Fit-Bit as she goes over 10,000 steps while Abbi sings the Christian hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!”, a shining example of her less than orthodox Judaism. The focus on these two, not particularly noteworthy characters posits the idea that they are the stars in their own version of Broad City, but with hijinks and pitfalls centered around being flight attendants and being a little bit older than Abbi and Ilana. Honestly, we’re all starring in our own version of Broad City right now.
In a season full of great guest stars, Seth Green of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Austin Powers, and Robot Chicken fame is the ginger cherry on top as Jared, the tour guide, who starts as overly earnest, but ends up telling Ilana that he’s only emphasizing the coupling of young Jewish people to get more commission money on the trip. This definitely turns her on with a quick flash of her erect nipples before cutting to a makeout session in the airplane restroom. He enjoys Ilana’s circumcision humor and joins the “Mohel Chai” club with her in an extremely clever joke that has to be explained for Abbi and some members of the audience, including yours truly.
But like many recurring gags this season, Broad City can start overusing a joke, but then there will be a nifty editing trick or line delivery from a supporting character that makes it fresh again. (Like the flight attendant glancing obsessively at her Fit Bit for the fourth or fifth time that episode during the slow mo sequence.) And sometimes the joke is just dead sadly, like the pilot and co-pilot going down on each other causing turbulence. But, for the most part, Broad City has grown more confident in its third season and become slick stylistically, adding serialized elements, and going deeper into the characters of Abbi and Ilana by looking at Abbi’s family life and Ilana’s inability to be employed. I don’t think anything can top Ilana and Abbi “switching places” in the second episode though.
Overall Rating: 8.0
Broad City Season 3