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Recap: Supergirl S4E16 – The House of L

“The House of L” starts off with a rooftop battle royale between Supergirl and a super-powered Lex before time jumping three years in the past to provide some back story on the deeds that lead to his imprisonment. While Lex is being sentenced, he kills a few more people in the courtroom and as he exits the courtroom to the trope validating cliche anthem, “My Way” we see how he met and recruited Eve.

We see Lex doing intricate etchings on his prison wall and substituting lobster and courtside tickets, as his ode to letting the peasants eat cake, in gifts to curry favor with his other inmates and the warden.  After receiving a call from some mysterious Russian general,  he playfully threatens the wardens’ mother to get a 72-hour release to meet a Supergirl clone. As Lex exits the prison he walks past the cells of other inmates and calls out chess moves to them, to show us that he is simultaneously playing several games at the same time.

At the ten minute mark of episode 16, of the 4th season of Supergirl, it hits me I’ve been watching this show for 11 minutes and the title character has been on screen for exactly 13 seconds. The writers, however, found time to reiterate that Lex is a genius, through an unnecessary chess scene that lasted longer than Supergirl was on screen and,  having Eve meet up with Lex, list all of her amazing academic achievements and then undercut her brilliance with a cliched, “I’m not like other girls” statement about her looks.

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We got to find out more about the Kara doppelganger, we see her acclimate to her new surroundings, learn the language, figure out her powers and try and control them. We learn she has amnesia and the only word she seems to have a grip on is “Alex”. She hears a boy calling for help in Russian and speeds to save him and that is where she meets Lex, whom she comes to call Alex because he said so. Even in this montage about Kara Too, she is reduced to a secondary figure in her own story, the version of events is told completely through the gaze and understanding of the male general & his soldiers and, Lex’s manipulation of events and insertion into what should have been her narrative.

Lex strikes a deal with the Kaznian general to gaslight Kara Too so they can control her. Eve seems complicit in all of Lex’s bad decisions including his plan to use  Kara Too thereby falling into the previous assessment by Lex that she was a slightly smarter Manson Girl to his Manson. Kara Too seems very eager to please Lex, who has her convinced that they were best friends and he is, in fact, the Alex she seeks. He gives her sweets because ya know, ladies love chocolate and, feeds her lies because ladies are gullible.

We find out that Lex was behind, pretty much everything that has plagued Supergirl this entire season and has been manipulating both Kara’s. Eve seems to be perfectly okay with this and continues her own personal side manipulation of Lena. Lex and Kara Too play chess and he teaches her history and lays down his underhanded plan to take over the world. In a typical toxic male fashion, Lex shows Kara Too compassion and then immediately turns on her when she says something, or in the initial case likes something she doesn’t. He even goes as far as hurting her so he can save her so he can use a machine similar to the one used on Alex in Clockwork Orange, minus the eye-openers, to show her “the truth”.

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At the almost two-thirds mark, Lex comes to visit and convinces Kara Too that she is not ready for America, employing another toxic relationship trick, so that when he finally takes her she will feel “worthy” and indebted to him. He also tells her that Supergirl is her sister and has taken her rightful position, so he can manipulate her further and use her. We then get to time jump to four months before the present time, Lex and Kara Too are sporting horrible dark colored wigs in National City while lackluster hip pop plays. In Lex’s field play, he exploits half-truths in an attempt to make Supergirl seem like she is complicit in the weapons dealing and evil that powerful men do so that he can use Kara Too to correct these wrongs. He also violates Supergirl’s privacy by breaking into her place and not only snooping through her things but, allowing Kara Too to do the same.

Eve helps Lex set into motion a plan to kill Kara Too’s little friend and blame it on America in an attempt to keep her on track with Lex’s plan after she reads Supergirl’s diary and realize that everything Lex says about her might not be entirely on the level. Lex’s plan backfires when Kara Too reacts by destroying a ship containing the weapons that killed her friend, of course, we also learn that the boy is safe and his rescuer tells him to hide or play dead if he ever sees a bald man. Kara Too ends up stricken with Kryptonian cancer so Lex gives himself cancer which sets in motion the plan that led up to last weeks episode.

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Overall: The only thing that made this episode bearable and redeemable was the conversation that Lex and Kara Too had on the warship, where she calls him out for using her. Until that pivotal moment where she realies his motives aren’t pure, their interactions had been kind of cringeworthy. The writing in this episode was sloppy, predictable, and lazy. Not only was Supergirl AND Kara Too’s combined screen time less than 13  minutes, giving us another episode of Supergirl that was not about Supergirl but, by adding Kara Too to the mix, we got to see her become another side story in not only her own life but, another token piece in a male lead toxic melodrama. I really hope that the writers can pull themselves out of this slump, even the pseudo-pop feminist leanings of season 3 were more relatable and entertaining than what season four has been giving us. The male lead DC comic shows that have been on the air for longer than Supergirl, still seem to center themselves around their male leads, it is very sad that the CW has given up so easily on Supergirl when it could have been great. Watching this season play out it is tearing down all of my high hopes for the upcoming Batwoman spin-off.

I give this episode a hard 5.2 

Review: Broad City S5E9 Along Came Molly

Broad City’s penultimate episode “Along Came Molly” is a fantastic tribute to the show’s first season courtesy of writer Eliot Glazer and director Abbi Jacobson. Sure, the Lil Wayne concert is a little on the nose, but the Craiglist references are a clever as hell callback to when Broad City showed it was weird, hilarious, and here to stay in the pilot “What A Wonderful World” where Abbi and Ilana make money by cleaning a diaper wearing Fred Armisen’s apartment. The Easter Eggs are definitely fast and furious in this episode, and the wacky hijinks are turned to eleven as Abbi and Ilana do molly for the first time. However, the drug acts like a kind of truth serum that illuminates their relationships as well as unlocking their twerking and extended Die Hard tribute abilities.

“Along Came Molly” starts off its exploration of Broad City past and present in its cold open. Abbi and Ilana are crossing off “bucket list” items that Abbi wants to do before leaving New York that are mostly touristy things like the Staten Island Ferry and placing a rose on John Lennon’s grave in Central Park. Jacobson doesn’t go full Manhattan with her directing, but she definitely captures some stylish, if cliche vistas. However, this tender homage to touristy places in New York is undercut by Ilana rattling off bad things that have happened in these places like the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five and New York itself being bought for $24 from its indigenous inhabitants. These quips from Ilana show that Broad City has turned into a socially conscious and self-aware show in its last two seasons while still retaining his wacky sense of humor.

“Along Came Molly” also acts as an extended farewell to Bevers, the mooching, disgusting boyfriend of Abbi’s never seen on camera roommate, Melanie. He was the worst part of the show in Season One, but John Gemberling channeled more of his adorable with hidden depths side in later seasons to make him a solid supporting character even if he’s no Jaime or Lincoln. And he’s a real comedy MVP in this episode coordinating Abbi’s furniture sale and then dropping the bombshell that he and Ilana have kissed and also have a special high five. He gets to be in the final shot of the episode as Jacobson sets up a reveal of Melanie, but it’s really a delectable character beat that shows that Bevers’ defining character trait has been being too much.

While Broad City Season 5 has been all about growing up and change with Ilana going to grad school and Abbi finally pursuing her artistic dream in Boulder, Colorado, “Along Came Molly” lets the girls regress a little bit. It also is an opportunity for Jacobson and Glazer to turn in some energetic, physical comedic performances. This is all the result of taking Molly (from Craiglist) after they are kicked out of the aforementioned Lil Wayne concert because they’re tickets are fake (And from Craigslist.) This leads to them having their own fun like crawling around in a ventilation shaft with a lighter that is both super tense and plain random and refreshingly free of any surprise Bruce Willis cameos.

The result of the drugs isn’t some big animated sequence like Season 4’s “Mushrooms”, but Ilana and Abbi realizing they’re codependent, or Li’l Codies. (Bingo Bronson does make his triumphant return down the road.) They have been helpful to each other some regards (Like Abbi realizing she has a great ass), but also have been holding each other back a little bit. Like the whole not really having any friends other than each other part. Jacobson and Glazer’s acting is both vulnerable and emphatic in this scene, and Jacobson does a fantastic job cutting a back alley dance sequence to “A Milli” and bringing us back to 2007.

Abbi and Ilana have grown a lot as characters in Broad City Season 5, but hey, they can still have a good time as evidenced in “Along Came Molly”. The penultimate episode of the series is a love letter to the more irresponsible days of 2014 and Season 1. On a more personal note, it brought me back to a dorm room five years ago when I discovered Broad City because I was too lazy to change the channel after Workaholics was over and fell in love with these funny and relatable as hell girls, Ilana Wexler and Abbi Abrams and then their actor/writers/creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.

Overall Verdict: 9.7

Review: Supergirl S4E15 – “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

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The first eight minutes of the latest episode of Supergirl was full of emotion, trauma, drama laying down the groundwork and a promising start for a what would turn out to be a spectacular episode.

“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” starts off four years in the past as a young and worried Lena is being held captive by a deranged Lex who is trying to take down Superman with one of his world-ending evil plans before he is defeated and jailed. We then find ourselves back in the present where Lex is delivered to Lena, with full light support regalia, and Supergirl finds a gravely injured Jimmy on the Catco floor. Lex and Lena’s snark-filled reunion is cut short by Lena’s assistant Eve and news of Jimmy’s condition. Alex tries to finagle human trials of Lena’s serum by using Jimmy’s condition to push her to begin human trials as J’onn and Supergirl go on a mission to find and stop Manchester before anyone else they care about ends up hurt.

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Manchester decides to literally mindf*** J’onn with ” The Punishments” in a way that will break our usually level headed Martian down. I find the interaction between the two of them of the most interesting aspects of the show. The characters give us a DC version of the Professor X/ Magneto duality and, it really works for not only the show but, as a mirror for the current state of real world affairs. Ultimately J’onn prevails against Machester to save the city and himself, he’s able to return Brainiacs ring to him and sets out to figure out who he is in this new world.

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In an effort to save the love of her life, Lena leans on Lex because two super genius brains are better than one.  We get to see a vulnerable side of Lena as she pleads for Lex to help fix the Harun-El serum because, while she wasn’t okay using it to help a dying Lex, she really needs it to work in order to keep Jimmy at hundred percent.  Jon Cryer’s Lex is a bit off-brand for the polarizing character, he comes off as a knock-off Joker instead of an entitled, off-putting genius. Lena is so blinded by her need that despite Eve’s warning and the collective viewer sigh of, “Girl, you in danger!” she allows Lex access to everything and, we can all count the ways that this can go horribly wrong. I also found the level of verbal abuse, disguised as sibling rivalry and highlights the nature of toxic familial relationships.

Without Alex’s connection to Supergirl, she has lost a lot of her humanity and it’s kind of hard to watch since we all know the great sacrifice she made to protect Kara. She’s all about the job and finds herself singular in her focus and work causing her to play agent a lot more than the friend and comes off more self-serving than compassionate. There’s something to said about Alex’s character shift, it highlights the very real problem of people not being equally compassionate to “others” unless it directly affects them or someone that they know. I think it’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out and if Alex can confront some of the underlying bigotry that she seems to have towards aliens.

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Sadly, Supergirl doesn’t get a lot to work with this episode which is kind of disconcerting, since it’s supposed to be her show and while I love the ensemble nature of the show, it’s kind of offputting that she’s routinely relegated to a side story than the main story. This season has been more about what everyone else has going on and how Supergirl relates in their world rather than how they relate to her and her humanity.  This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the wonderful character development and, the friendships and fallouts that fuel them, it’s just a bit disenchanting to watch Supergirl become moral and problem-solving tech support in her own show. Especially, the male lead DC shows allow her male counterparts to make every episode about their hero’s journey, I  wish that she was afforded the same story arc structure.

The reveals in this episode were gold star, Lena thinks she’s one step ahead of Lex but, not only did we discover that Eve was a double agent and Lex had Jimmy shot ,  we saw what we suspected all along, Lex was playing her.  He, of course, has Lana knocked out for her troubles and manages to get away after killing a squad of FBI agents in the most comic book manner possible.

Favorite Quote:

“Microaggressions are their own form of trauma. ” – Braniac

When he said that, I think we all felt that one a little bit.

Overall this episode was pretty good and a lot of ground was covered. J’onn becomes the Manhunter that we all wanted, Lex gives us a bit of evil to look forward to, even if Cryer’s portrayal promises to make thing super campy and we seem to be poised to get more Superman to detract even more from the creators sadly prevailing sentiment that Supergirl doesn’t deserve to be centered in her own show.

Overall Rating: 8.7

Review: Broad City S5E8 Sleep No More

One’s early and late twenties (And let’s throw 30 in there for good measure.) is a time of great change. But this change can be difficult, and this difficulty and the emotions that follow are the core theme of the Broad City episode “Sleep No More”. The episode gets its name from Sleep No More, an immersive theatre experience in New York where you walk around a film noir type space in an old building and see a silent version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The eerie setting of the theatre is a fantastic backdrop for director Lucia Aniello to do some atmospheric filmmaking while chronicling Abbi telling Ilana that she’s moving to Boulder, Colorado to do an art residency. “Sleep No More” is penned by Ilana Glazer, and she gets to put Ilana and Abbi through the paces of awkward comedy, melodrama, earnest drama, and utter farce that is the Abbi/Ilana breakup.

“Sleep No More” also addresses the enduring pop culture trend of TV sitcoms wearing out their welcome and resorting to tricks, like weird new characters or playing off the same dynamic over and over again until the ratings get too low and cancellation happens. (Or doesn’t in the case of The Simpsons.) Abbi and Ilana are fun characters, and many fans of Broad City would love to watch them to go on hilarious, random, and sometimes surreal adventures in New York. And this is what the character of Ilana wants to do, and you can tell by the puppy dog look that Glazer puts on every time that Abbi mentions a possibility of staying.

However, human beings are not never aging yellow people. They change, grow, and want to find fulfillment, which is something Abbi isn’t finding in New York right now. Between Ilana’s destruction of Sleep No More props, Abbi gives her reasons for moving that include not having to clean human pubic hair (Shout out to Soulstice!) or dispose smelly leftover food from catering gigs and just focus on art. And Ilana can visit her via a very complicated, two layover flight or FaceTime her. However, in the moment, she doesn’t get this.

In “Sleep No More”, Glazer gets to act pure rage and showcase the darkest parts of her character that are used kept down beneath “Yas queens”, flashy outfits, and performative wokeness. She isn’t reasonable when Abbi talks about going to Boulder, but goes absolutely apeshit and can’t fathom a world where she’s without Abbi. And, on the other side, Abbi tells her that she’s her only friend so she has to go through a brave new world as well.

Lucia Aniello and Glazer get to mine a vein of deep sadness after Sleep No More happens as Ilana gives Abbi a handshake before she leaves for her apartment and finds out her new roommate has new Great Danes named Jay-Z and Beyonce. It’s sadness all around, but the actual ending of the episode is hilarious and a great callback to Ilana and Abbi’s bathroom FaceTimes throughout the series. Maybe, things will be okay for them over the next two episodes of the city, but their lives will be very different.

You can almost feel Glazer and Jacobson coming to terms with ending their hit sitcom that started out as a scrappy webseries and became a pop culture phenomenon through this episode. They have bright futures as actors, comedians, writers, directors, Jacobson as a visual artist, and as talented human beings, but “Sleep No More” gives viewers a sad reminder that all good things, including iconic comedic pairings running through New York, must come to an end or end up doing nuanced, dramatic performances like on this episode. And, honestly, it’s for the best in a world where thousands flocks to arenas to watch KISS lip sync their greatest hits to name one particularly pathetic example off the top of my head.

Overall Verdict: 9.0

Review: Broad City S5E6 Lost and Found and S5E7 Shenanigans

Episode 6 “Lost and Found”

“Lost and Found” is definitely the cutest episode of Broad City this season as Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs tell the story of Abbi and Ilana spiriting Ilana’s 16th cousin and Holocaust survivor, Saul Borowitz (The Sopranos’ Jerry Adler) out of his nursing home and to a drag brunch and Ikea. And, of course, he gets lost along the way, and they make pit stops at a Jewish grocery store, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a sale at the department store. It’s a lot of fun, and Sasha Velour and Alan Cumming show up. But, along the way, Abbi and Ilana get to explore their Jewish identity and through the metaphor of a nice, yellow hat deal with the growing rift in their relationship because Abbi is dating a woman aka the attractive nurse from last episode, Lesley (Clea Duvall).

Director Aniello does a nice walk and talk scene that is punctuated by the ever present yellow hat where Ilana projects her freaking out a little bit about Abbi having a “girlfriend” onto the hat. The sequence showcases Aniello’s ability to easily switch tones in scenes because the previous was ultra hella cute Abbi and Lesley snuggling and talking about snoring and deviated septums. It also is a big breaking point in their friendship because in past episodes (And even back to the webseries.), Abbi vowed to Ilana that if she ever had a sexual or romantic relationship with a woman, it would be with her.

As in previous episodes of Broad City that have dealt with everything from pegging to poly relationships and Abbi’s nascent, there’s a nuance to the show’s portrayal of queerness. And Aniello and Downs continue this tradition in “Lost and Found” with Ilana’s very mixed feelings about Abbi having a girlfriend. Sometimes, you have a relationship that goes beyond friendship, and it can be painful when a new romance gets in the way. No one’s in the wrong; it just happens, and Glazer and Jacobson show this with their performances. They’re presumably having a good time breaking out 90-something year olds out of assisted living and fangirling all over Alan Cumming, but there’s a sadness underneath the fun and games.

But “Lost and Found” is still a very fun episode because intergenerational hijinks are always good for a laugh. Aniello and Downs also do a “never forget” Holocaust story without making it an overserious narrative. They parody the awkward moment after you really think about the loss of lives in the Holocaust after a film or museum visit when Abbi and Ilana take a pit stop at the Holocaust Museum as they look for the sweet, hilarious Saul. Adler definitely seemed to be enjoying himself in the role, and he’ll go down as one of the all time great Broad City guest stars for his dance moves and affinity for adventures. He even causes some waterworks when he talks about that he loves Ikea because Sweden was where he lived immediately after escaping from a concentration camp. And who doesn’t love those meatballs?

“Lost and Found” has it all from Ilana trying to turn her Jewish heritage and history of mental illness into a grad school entrance essay to Abbi and Lesley being adorable in the honey moon phase of their relationship and the sheer existence of Saul Borowitz. In between the funny moments and guest stars, Lucia Aniello and Paul W Downs begin a slow burn dissolution of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship that has a new level of urgency because it’s the final season.

Overall Verdict: 9.0

Episode 7: “Shenanigans”

Writer Gabe Liedman and director Paul W. Downs use “Shenanigans” as a vehicle to air out some of the things that people have said about not wanting to be friends with Ilana and Abbi in real life because they are living embodiments of Murphy’s Law. The episode title comes from Abbi’s short lived girlfriend Lesley (Clea Duvall) saying how they’re incompatible because she’s an adult with a job as a doctor and meaningful hobbies while Abbi gets into “shenanigans”. And Abbi doesn’t even have the excuse of being in her twenties either. Even though she does silly voices and ends up hanging by her walking boot backstage behind a performance of a play about Anne Frank, Jacobson gets to play Abbi dramatically as she gets in heated arguments with Lesley and channels her passion for art that has been seeded throughout Broad City’s run and has gotten added emphasis this season.

On the other hand, Ilana gets to just have shenanigans because she was accepted into Hunter College’s Masters in Psychology program and deserves a reward. In the middle of an argument with a salon employee about a student discount, she is discovered by the salon owner (A fabulous Nathan Lee Graham.) and gets to be a hair model because of her “plump but light” curls.

This leads to her definitely acting like she’s pumped on swag until Downs hits a great comedic beat when what Liedman describes as “AC pre-cum” and “ninja turtle juice” hits her in the eye, and we’re off to the Ilana is a bad situation races complete with guest appearances from Janeane Garofolo, a veterinarian who treats one human and a pedi-cab realtor played by Amy Sedaris. Both Garofolo and Sedaris appeared on previous episodes on the show, and they’re along for the (sometimes literal) ride as Ilana desperately tries to salvage her modeling career that ends up going to her amazing mom (Susie Essman). Bobbi Wexler was due a win especially with her son leaving New York City.

And the season five theme of leaving New York City for pastures with cheaper housing that began with Jaime moving in with his boyfriend in Jersey, and Lincoln starting a dental practice in Maryland, continues with Eliot. He hasn’t appeared much in this season, and Gabe Liedman uses his leaving as a parallel to Abbi, who is considering her own departure and looking at art fellowships alone on her laptop after Lesley dumped her yet again. Broad City is all about Abbi and Ilana’s friendship, and the deity tier chemistry between Jacobson and Glazer plus their anarchic comedic chops are what make this show great. But, hey, character development is great too, and Abbi leaving New York to pursue an art fellowship in Colorado would be a great cap to her arc although it would leave Ilana devastated.

But no lasting damage has been done yet, and “Shenanigans” closes out with Abbi and Ilana goofing off on the couch making fun of the sayings that the hair photographers said to Ilana’ mom earlier that day. The growing divide in their relationship is swept under the proverbial, comedic rug as Gabe Liedman and Paul W. Downs continue this season of Broad City’s theme of hiding bad feels under jokes, pranks, silly oufits, and yes shenanigans.

Overall Verdict: 8.3

Review: Broad City S5E5 “Artsy Fartsy”

At the midpoint of its final season, Broad City crafts some crossroads moments for Abbi and Ilana in the Ilana Glazer directed and Abbi Jacobson written “Artsy Fartsy”. In this, and the previous episode where Jaime moved out, Ilana decided to follow her dream as a therapist, and Abbi quit her job at Anthropologie in a blaze of glory, Glazer and Jacobson have switched from telling stories of cultural satire to more personal ones. The episode chronicles Abbi juggling the two worlds of being a guest at a prestigious MOMA party and the caterer at one, and Ilana negotiating her relationship contract with Lincoln (Probably Hannibal Burress’ farewell) over a prix fixe pasta meal. Also, Lucia Aniello, who directed Broad City’s pilot and many of its best episodes, gets to step in front of the camera as the artist formerly known as Smelly Pussy Donna and current MOMA big wig.

The episode begins with Abbi being saved from being a third wheel on Lincoln and Ilana’s anniversary/relationship negotiation dinner by running into an old college friend, Donna, who has done well for herself in the art world. The context is that Abbi and Ilana are watching, eagle eyed, at the MOMA gift store to see if anyone buys Abbi’s cute, celebrity favorite food postcards. After getting fired from Anthropologie and getting a new job as a caterer, Abbi is jumping back into the art game, and Donna’s name dropping about teaching and residencies shows her a glimpse at a world she definitely wants to be a part of. Aniello plays Donna as a little stuck up, but likable and friendly and open about what techniques she used to shed the college nickname of Smelly Pussy Donna.

However, the emotional heart of the episode comes in Ilana and Lincoln’s plotline where Glazer (directing herself) lingers on the pain that Ilana feels when she thinks Lincoln is going to propose. Thankfully, the box just has some dangly, trendy “Jewess” earrings. This awkwardness does show that maybe their relationship isn’t long for this world even though they seemed pretty happy in the season 5 premiere. It extends to the dinner, which is shot almost pornographically by Glazer, because that’s some pretty good pasta they’re eating on.

But after the tasty food, their conversation turns from little, funny things, like letting Lincoln watch three romantic comedies (Ilana enjoys roasting the.) a year and going down from having sex in a roller coaster to the more manageable Ferris wheel, to more serious matters that have been building up for quite some time. Lincoln wants to move back to the more affordable Maryland and open a dental practice with his brother that’s adorably called Tooth Factory, get a house, married, and have kids. Ilana wants to stay in New York, try the becoming a therapist thing, and kiss at least fifty people in addition to Lincoln. They both love each other very much, but Ilana and Lincoln’s life goals have become incompatible so I guess it’s quits for them. Thankfully, Glazer and Jacobson punctuate the feels with a lot of fart jokes.

While this is going on, Abbi is having a throwback to Season 3’s “Burning Bridges” and having to play the role of guest at artsy fartsy party and caterer at one. (Lincoln and Ilana also broke up in the Aniello directed episode so they’re kind of companion pieces.) It leads to a lot of awkward physical humor from Jacobson as she tries to avoid her ever vigilant supervisor Kevin (The Punisher’s Todd Alan Crain) and still schmooze around the complex art world. And it ends up being a complete disaster involving drink spilling on artist heroes, lots of misunderstandings, and general feelings of inferiority. Abbi desperately wants to be a part of the art world, but she’s still a beret wearing caterer on the outside looking in.

But thing take a fantastic turn in one of the best character beats created for Abbi. After she passes out at the party and is brought to the hospital, she ends up flirting and hitting it off with her doctor, Leslie (Clea DuVall). Jacobson and DuVall have immediate chemistry as they shyly ask each other if they’re seeing someone between Leslie giving Abbi glucose pills and instructions. At the end of the episode where Abbi and Ilana chat, Abbi says that she was hesitant to ask Leslie out because she’s used to dating men. This scene shows that queerness and coming out isn’t always a “very special episode”, but it can sometimes be thinking that someone the same gender is attractive and asking them out. It’s a powerful, quiet moment that is well-written and acted by Jacobson and visually captured by Glazer.

“Artsy Fartsy” turns its focus back to earlier Broad City themes of feeling inadequate compared to your more successful friends (i.e. Donna) and the ever evolving nature of relationships in your late twenties and early thirties. Abbi and Ilana are changing, and this episode boasts fantastic character development for a show that’s not super serialized. It’s worth checking out for Lucia Aniello’s dance moves in the ending credits alone.

Overall Verdict: 8.4

TV Review: Doom Patrol S1E1 Pilot

In the series premiere, the reluctant heroes of the Doom Patrol – Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Woman and Crazy Jane face the threat of Mr. Nobody, who’s after The Chief.

There’s a lot of television shows on the air based on comic books. While some feel a bit too similar to each other or lack that special something to stand out, there’s some that not only stand out but bring something new. Doom Patrol, the latest live action series for DC Universe, is that example of something a bit different.

Unapologetically adult the first episode introduces us to the team of Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), Elasti Girl/Rita Farr (April Bowlby), Negative Man/Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer), Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser), and their leader the Chief (Timothy Dalton). Most are unlikeable if downright horrible people.

The episode teases it all out as it slowly familiarizes us with the world and characters. Some of what’s revealed is tragic, some of it will elicit anger. What it does is deliver characters who have some depth and rather interesting. What Doom Patrol does first is introduce us to fuck-ups first who eventually become heroes instead of giving us heroes who we later learn their flaws.

The show embraces its quirky material with some changes, one absolutely for the better. It knows it’s odd and rolls with it in look, pacing, and presentation. The entire episode is narrated with a sense of humor about it that keeps what otherwise is a rather slow start entertaining. The performances are good as each actor embraces the fact their characters are dicks. There’s nudity, there’s swearing, again, this is an adult show that’s more about each character adjusting to their life and embracing who they are.

The threat is rather vague. Moments are weird. Some of the FX is rather dodgy. But, there’s something about this show. Its quirky sense of self and embracing who the intended audience is makes it stand out from the sea of choices.

The first episode isn’t exciting but the performances, character introductions, and a sly sense of humor come together for a package that’s worth the hour to watch.

Overall Rating: 7.5

Review: Broad City S5E3 Bitcoin & the Missing Girl

Broad City S5E3 Bitcoin & the Missing Girl

For better worse, Broad City Season 5 is settling into a routine, and that routine includes Abbi and Ilana getting in a crazy situation that ends up being a satirical look at white privilege or 21st century society. And Abbi and Ilana are usually apart from each other except for the cold open and stinger. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer no longer get to play off each other, but against a cast of usually well-cast comedians and character actors. In “Bitcoin & the Missing Girl”‘s case, these actors include James Saito (Who played Shredder in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film) and Mark Consuelos (Hiram Lodge in Riverdale).

It’s fun to watch Abbi freak out over losing the sweatshirt she lost her virginity in, or Ilana in a full-on PVC leather Matrix get-up. But sometimes you wish these shenanigans were happening with them together. However, writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs and director Lilly Burns craft a story that fits Abbi and Ilana’s personalities as well as Jacobson and Glazer’s comedic styles plus the season’s recurring theme of big picture and personal satire.

When you thought The Matrix parodies were dead and buried, Aniello, Downs, and Glazer in a trench coat brought them back in a plotline where Ilana has to track down a guy she had a one night stand with “between 2010 and 2011” to cash in her 1/3 of a Bit Coin that she got in return for getting him Wacka Flocka Flame tickets and open her phone wig “wizness”. (It’s just human hair glued to cellphones.) And said guy is played by the previously mentioned, Mark Consuelos, who proves the old adage that acting is reacting by trying to stay even keeled and corporate while Ilana twerks in the equivalent of a Trinity cosplay on his venture capitalist desk.

The Ilana BitCoin plot doesn’t really scratch the surface of ethical issues with cryptocurrency, but it is a loving spoof of The Matrix, a film that I have way too much nostalgia for. (And so do other millennials.) It’s also an excuse for Glazer to prove once again that she can pull off any outfit and spread queer, cyberpunk anarchy in a staid, sterile corporate world. It’s a little more subtle, but Burns, Aniello, and Downs also riff on the Bourne films when Ilana visits her bank vault. There aren’t passports, firearms, and Matt Damon’s credibility as an action star there, but burner dick pic phones, a must need item for anyone on a family phone plan.

In contrast with the highs, lows, sheer swagger, and energetic nostalgia of Ilana’s plotline, Abbi’s story is more, shall we say, normcore. With a little extra spending money thanks to her offscreen job at Anthropologie, Abbi decides to use a laundry business instead of going down to her build’s downright horrifying laundry room. This seems like a good idea, and of course, she does nothing productive while waiting for her clothes, but then she loses her favorite sweatshirt.

What follows is a satire of the “single white female” trope in news media where any missing white woman gets around the clock news coverage and probably a Lifetime movie. Abbi placing fliers around town for her sweatshirt inadvertently led to people think she was missing and some hilarious cameos from her former Soulstice co-workers, including Trey (Paul W. Downs), who still has a thing for her. Her story is deadpan funny, especially James Saito’s reactions to her demands, but is more serious than Ilana’s as her white privilege ends up trampling the world around her just like the toilet plot from last week’s episode.

In yet another deadpan sequence from Lilly Burns, Abbi removes her missing sweatshirt posters, only to reveal posters about more important things like Black Lives Matter and Abolish ICE. It’s a stark reminder of how self-centered and myopic she was, and hey, maybe the laundry owner is right in banning her for life. Her story might not have the pure comedic bite of Ilana’s, but it continues Abbi’s storyline of checking her privilege this scene.

It’s sad to see Abbi and Ilana continue to be apart, but Glazer’s cyberpunk antics played against Mark Consuelo‘s corporate stiffness make “Bitcoin & the Missing Girl” an amusing episode that also manages to explore white privilege in its B-plot.

Review: Broad City S5E2 SheWork and Shit Bucket

Writer Lisa McQuillan (Blackish) and director Abbi Jacobson spin shit (Aka the most used word in this episode) in metaphorical gold in “SheWork and Shit Bucket” an episode that turns poop jokes and the running gag of Ilana being unable to find a job into a sharp satire of gentrification and technocracy. The episode splits Abbi and Ilana up for the most part as Abbi tries to improve the plumbing in her apartment building, and Ilana uses free charging ports, trash, and nicotine addictions to create SheWork, which is like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop for co-working spaces.

Building off last week’s episode’s barbs about social media stories and how they shape every day experience, McQuillan and Jacobson continue to show that Broad City’s final season is big picture oriented and more than two girls having shenanigans in New York City while still building off jokes from previous seasons and the chemistry between Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. “She Work and “Shit Bucket”‘s tech satire begins in the unlikely way that is Ilana applying for an office manager job at WeWork, a co-working office space that offers great “millennial friendly” perks like free snacks and beer.

But they’re actually trying to get her to buy office space, and she ends up on the street charging her dead phone on one of New York’s free charger’s station. However, a chance meeting with her old temp agency boss Linda Lodi (Rachel Dratch), who has a smoking habit turns into her arranging old New York street junk into a smoking friendly workspace for the price of 50 cents a minute. She’s basically doing what the tech bros are doing, but outside and with more cigarette smoke and transforms a free or inexpensive service (Chargers on the street) into a moneymaking scheme a la HyperLoops or that bus thing that Lyft and/or Uber were going to do. She calls her start-up “SheWork” to add a veneer of white feminism to it and then still ends up selling the business to WeWork for $500, and they end up stealing her money. Guess, there’s still money in the tobacco industry.

Unlike a show, like the excellent Silicon Valley, which comes at the tech sector from a male, insider POV, Lisa McQuillan takes an intersectional feminist perspective of start ups, and how women are often undermined and minimized in them. However, she also turns the tables and shows that the lure of making a profit off something that was previously given away for free or a very low cost crosses gender boundaries. She and Abbi Jacobson take a stab at some big issues in hypercapitalist American society, but with Ilana running around and picking up random odds and ends in a crop top and sketch comedy Dratch just reacting to the strangeness around her in a more extreme, open air version of her previous role as the MoneyPenny of temp agencies.

Abbi’s storyline in which she gets all gentrifying imperialist faux woke on her Latino landlord Fernando (Nelson Ascensio) starts as a bunch of poop jokes and an opportunity for Jacobson to do a highly choreographed high five/dance thing with her character’s favorite Bed, Bath, and Beyond employee. However, it turns into a critique of the kind of activism that is actually just code for gentrification. In campaigning for better plumbing so she can flush paper down the toilet, Abbi ends up losing Fernando’s job, raising rent, and being very problematic along the way.

McQuillan’s writing for Abbi is either very broad or quite subtle. For example, Abbi calls herself the “Rosa Parks of poop” as well as the “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Astoria” although Ocasio-Cortez does, in fact, represent Astoria, Queens in Congress. These two lines show that Abbi is the heiress of a long line of white women, who take credit for what activists of color have done, and McQuillan boldly doesn’t give her a happy ending, but a more sinister one using her apartment building as a microcosm of how gentrification has made New York City, especially Brooklyn and Queens, unlivable and displaced the immigrants and children of immigrants who made their home there. But there’s also a funny joke about how everyone in the building know that Abbi pegged the late, great written out of the show Jeremy.

Although Lisa McQuillan and Abbi Jacobson riff off old Broad City jokes (and songs; “I Shit” becomes “She Work”), they aren’t content to retread old plots as “SheWork and Shit Bucket” is an episode that is both socially responsible, madly hilarious, and shows that both Abbi and Ilana need to check their privilege and not be seduced by exploitative capitalism.

Overall Verdict: 8.7

Review: Broad City S5E1 Stories

Broad City S5E1 Stories

Broad City’s final season premiere, “Stories”, is high concept, joke dense, a little bit satirical, and definitely a celebration of the friendship between Abbi and Ilana. The Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer penned episode gets its name from Facebook and Instagram Stories, which if you’re some kind of a Luddite, are real time snapshots of your day. They can be saved, but for the most part, it’s a here today, gone tomorrow deal kind of like Abbi and Ilana’s phones. (But not their friendship.)

Director Nick Paley frames the entire episode as a series of social media stories as Ilana and Abbi celebrate Abbi’s 30th birthday by walking all of Manhattan. It’s the perfect idea for a series that has centered around Abbi and Ilana’s adventures running around New York, and this epic quest doesn’t disappoint. Also, using the Instagram story format allows for lots of visual jokes like when Abbi and Ilana see the “real life” version of the peach and eggplant emoji, and when Ilana keeps filming even after she falls into a manhole.

Paley also leans into the feels a little bit and creates some cute montages of Jaime (Arturo Castro), Lincoln (Hannibal Burress is back, yay), and Jaime’s boyfriend tipsily sending birthday messages. There’s also a montage of Abbi’s butt in various scenes of the show, which is a fantastic payoff to one of the series’ best running gags, and it continues to be riffed on throughout “Stories”. Glazer and Jacobson’s performances are non-stop energy in this episode, and the handheld style of filming is a throwback to when Broad City was a webseries and not a pop culture phenomenon. I could also not stop cracking up when Ilana was dancing with her one padawan-style braid in a self-deprecating scene where Glazer acknowledges her cultural appropriation in earlier seasons.

However, “Stories” isn’t all fun and games, and Glazer and Jacobson definitely dig into the existential crisis part of hitting the big three zero. Ilana stops with the crazy filters for a second as Abbi muses on her thankless Anthropologie job and posits that maybe she could have been a mom with kids by now. It doesn’t help when her old college friend Cheese (Cody Lindquist) shows up to retrieve her child in the mall that Abbi and Ilana were supposed to take to security, but end up using as an adorable and slightly creepy prop. Cheese reprimands Abbi and Ilana for their footloose and fancy free ways before having a total meltdown that is punctuated by dropping several “F” bombs at one of her four kids. Basically, even “stable” adults with kids don’t have their shit together. I really liked how Glazer and Jacobson showed how people can be similar ages and have totally different lives after college.

“Stories” is also a great satire of social media without being preachy or heavy handed. Broad City already showed Abbi and Ilana’s inability to function without their phone in the season 2 episode “The Matrix”, and almost four years later, it shows their inability to function without filming every second in “Stories”. The comedy from the Instagram story framing device shows that Glazer and Jacobson enjoy social media, and how it can capture fun moments, but also during the “stories”, they aren’t really living in these moments. It’s definitely a love/hate thing that I’ve thought about while being at concerts, good brunch places, and general fun experiences. Am I actually enjoying myself or just chronicling this for social media? Glazer and Jacobson ask this question in a humorous way and don’t give a definitive answer.

“Stories” starts off Broad City’s final season with some visual inventiveness, chains of jokes both visual and verbal, and of course, amazing friendship moments between Abbi and Ilana. Plus it’s a better and funnier love letter to Manhattan than the film with the same name…

Overall Rating: 9.5

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