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TV Review: Broad City S4E8 “House-Sitting”

Even though it featured the return of wealthy, privileged youngster Oliver (Of “Yas kween” fame.) for a short cameo, guest stars Mike Birbiglia, and has an amazing running laundry gag, “House-Sitting” is probably one of the worst episodes of Broad City ever. Writers Kevin Barnett and Josh Rabinowitz, for the most part, move away from the political comedy of the previous two episodes while keeping the fish out of water theme from “Florida”. The plot of the episode revolves around Abbi, Ilana, Jaime, Lincoln, and Abbi’s high school English teacher-turned-Bumble-date Richard (Mike Birbiglia) housesitting one of Ilana’s very wealthy, former employers while she goes off to the Hamptons with her son in an Uber helicopter. (Apparently, that’s a thing.)

But “House-Sitting” isn’t all negative. When director Abbi Jacobson isn’t extending a fart noises as hand guns gag to an unbearable length, she, Barnett, and Rabinowitz find some sweet and funny moments in the relationship between Lincoln and Ilana. (After a little bit of hesitation, she calls him her boyfriend.) Hannibal Burress and Glazer have great chemistry and share some fun moments, especially trying on fancy golden outfits and tuxes from the spacious rich people closets. They get to be part of the episode’s best gag, which is various characters losing their damn minds that the super fast and spacious multiple washing machines in the house’s basement that apparently the owner herself doesn’t even know about. Broad City is at its best either when it’s in “It’s funny because it’s true” mode or doubling down on Abbi and Ilana’s friendship, and this running joke with a twist ending definitely fits into the first categories for users of weird, shaking washing machines or have had one too many quarters eaten at laundromats/rooms.

The bad (and gross) comes from Abbi’s plotline, which has her going on a really awkward date with her old English teacher, Richard. Birbiglia plays the role of sleazy wannabe intellectual very well, especially in his tweed jacket, making the most of an uncomfortable part where he admits to masturbating to his students. He still sees Abbi as his student and not a woman in her late 20s, and did I mention that Jaime is watching the whole thing behind stuffed animals in Oliver’s bedroom. Obviously, Barnett, Rabinowitz, and Jacobson portray Richard as a terrible person, but seeing the whole ingenue/mentor forbidden romance thing for the millionth time isn’t really funny.  They really lean into some darkness in Ilana’s long monologue where she basically says that teachers jerking off to students is better than having sex with them. Ilana has said plenty of problematic stuff in Broad City, but this is honestly one of her worst moments.

The way Barnett, Rabinowitz, and Jacobson handle the end of the Richard/Abbi storyline is just plain weird as they start by Abbi telling him off and then turn into a half-assed Breakfast Club parody complete with the most overused 80s teen movie song of all time. (At least, they use the original and not the bad pop punk cover like Easy A did.) The storyline comes across as gross and pointless and just an excuse to give Abbi something to do while Lincoln and Ilana define their relationship and healing from adult circumcision Jaime tries to avoid getting a boner, which is adorable as much the Abbi B-plot is disgusting. I guess it reinforces that Abbi isn’t relationship material, but it’s mostly just frightening.

A bottle episode inside a palatial New York City mansion is a fun premise, and Abbi Jacobson seems to have a good time playing with the opulence of the interiors while Kevin Barnett and Josh Rabinowitz’ bidet setting jokes really cracked me up and fit the characters of Abbi and Ilana. However, this fun and some sweet Ilana/Lincoln material is unfortunately overshadowed by the appearance of a creepy pedophile character played by a pretty good comedian that also takes down Ilana with him in a painful bit where she hopes that Lincoln and her theoretical children are jerked off to by their teacher.

After writing that last sentence, I have to take a shower in the opposite of the setting of this episode…

Overall Verdict: 6.0

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