Tag Archives: Abbi Jacobson

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 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

TV Review: Broad City S4E10 Friendiversary

“Friendiversary” is really freaking weird episode of Broad City and it’s also incredibly simple. Unlike the Season 3 finale, which was a two part episode and involved serialization and a plane flight to Israel, director Nicholas Jasenovec and writers Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson just have Abbi and Ilana running around New York City. It starts as Ilana doing a scavenger hunt for Abbi complete with creepy masks, pretending to be a puppy and horse, and nauseatingly good chicken fingers and turns into a murder mystery. Having the girls bounce off each other in hilarious and heartfelt ways continues to be just as good as it was when they were scrounging up money to see Lil Wayne by cleaning adult baby Fred Armisen’s apartment back in the first ever episode of Broad City.

The murder mystery with a super freaky plot twist isn’t the only tension causing part of Broad City. Glazer and Jacobson decide to inject a little drama into Abbi and Ilana’s friendship as Abbi forgot it was their friend anniversary and didn’t have a gift or activity planned so she improvises with a facial mask and a trip to the top of Empire State Building. This pales in comparison to Ilana giving Abbi her family heirloom (Its backstory is Fiddler on the Roof meets Christopher Walken’s character in Pulp Fiction.) and dropping four figures on blowing cardboard versions of each other’s faces. Early, in the episode, Glazer gives little pauses, and there is a little less pep in her line readings as she realizes that Abbi flat out forgot their friendiversary. It shows a quieter, sad side of the character, but things are back to full energy when Ilana realizes that the observation deck on the Empire State Building is perfect for watching people have sex and also get “murdered”.

For many of the stories in Broad City Season 4, the writers have given Abbi and Ilana separate plots that dovetail towards the beginning or end of the episode. “Friendiversary” is full fledged team-up and a love letter to one of the most fun and endearing friendships on television. A lesser show would have them fighting over Abbi’s forgetfulness, but Glazer and Jacobson create a film noir story with a Broad City twist and show that she really cares about Ilana. I mean she would break into a possible murderer’s apartment and hide in his closet for her.

Although the cold open is all wacky comedy reveals and playful costumes worn by Glazer, Nicholas Jasenovec gets to go a little psychological thriller in his direction of “Friendiversary”. There’s a nice hip hop montage when Abbi and Ilana share chicken fingers and margaritas, but that is replaced with cold, steady direction as a man paces in his apartment with a knife or goes into the back room of a karaoke bar with a suitcase and leaves with no suitcase. Abbi and Ilana are the most unlikely gumshoe detectives, but their friendship conquers skill deficiency and genre tropes. Somehow, they end up in the man’s apartment, and the conclusion of the episode gets on-screen and offscreen laughs, but after Jasenovec does these tight, true crime angles that create an air of menace. It’s cool that “Friendiversary” gets to be a relationship study and a bit of a genre exercise.

In a Broad City season filled with mostly successful experiments and a few duds, “Friendiversary” is relaxing in its lack of ambition. Glazer and Jacobson, Abbi and Ilana put it all on the line, show how much they love each other, and get a little freaky along the way, which is all I could want out of a Broad City finale. Character growth would be interesting, but sometimes it’s nice to have a show that revels in its hilarious, chemistry filled status quo. Who doesn’t love a murder mystery that can be solved by the power of friendship?

Overall Verdict: 8.0

TV Review: Broad City S4E9 “Bedbugs”

BroadCityBedBugs

Broad City gets back to its winning ways in ” Bedbugs” as writer/director Ilana Glazer and co-writer Abbi Jacobson lean into both New York and Abbi and Ilana’s friendship. This might seem formulaic, but it works, and there’s the added wrinkle of money problems. Abbi still hasn’t bounced back from losing her fancy design job after killing her boss’ cat while high and is scraping by selling recycled cans and bottles and trying to return snacks to the bodega. In contrast, Ilana is living large and buying gifts her for all her friends and family, including $1,300 purses. But this lucky streak ends when she and Jaime (Arturo Castro) get bed bugs in their apartment, which originated from an illegal prostitution ring in the Sushi Mambo.

The cold open of “Bedbugs” is why I will never drive in New York (And Washington, DC and probably Chicago.) as Abbi and Ilana roll in the cool convertible that they inherited in “Florida” and subsequently can’t find a parking place. There aren’t hip hop beats or slow-mo rigs just terrible attempts at parallel parking (The one where your friend gets out of the car and tries to get you in position.) and cold wind blowing as they refuse to put the top down. The scene demonstrates that Glazer can pull off awkward, visual observational comedy as a director as well as fun montages and stoner movie riffs. The cold open is also a metaphor for their life situation in the episode. Abbi is watching her bank account and dignity (She gets financial planning help from a mugger played by an aggressive and not neurotic Steve Buscemi.) blow away in the wind while Ilana thinks she’s cool with the money stashed in her mattress and her gift giving ability, but that too is eaten by disgusting bugs.

Glazer and Jacobson continue the separate Abbi/Ilana storyline plot structure that has been Broad City‘s M.O. in Season 4 even though they converge in important and meaningful ways like Ilana giving Abbi a purse that adds +10 to charisma, or when, of course, Abbi lets Ilana hang out at her place when she gets bedbugs. Another crossover  is their relationship to Massouma (Zephyr Ingle), the teenage bodega worker, who Abbi mistakenly thinks is named Bodine. (That’s a great name for a racist grandma to be honest.) On the other hand, Ilana knows Massouma’s name and has her cellphone number. Abbi was so self-absorbed with her lack of a job and money situation that she didn’t stop to take time to get to know someone who helped provide her cheap food and good service.

Ingle, who previously had starred in a Star Wars fan film and a creepy horror short film, is one of the comedic finds of 2017, matches wits with Abbi at every turn, and even makes the 2nd Amendment funny with her delivery of a one-liner about how she helped her parents study for their citizenship tests so she’s a Constitutional expert. The gun she wields is a great prop, and Ingle and Glazer use some split second timing to execute a great gag where Massouma immediately pops off the gun when Ilana says she has bedbugs. Hollywood casting directors, you should definitely add Zephyr Ingle to your ensemble comedy film or sitcom.

“So relatable” should be the title for Abbi’s story arc in Broad City Season 4. Jacobson nails the patheticness of the “starving”, yet privileged artist trope when she and an older “starving artist” sort through their cans at the recycling plant. There are no voices of a generation to be found here. But Glazer and Jacobson also do right by her and give her some real swag when she pops into Anthropologie for an impromptu job interview after an almost one take montage of her feeling confidence while walking down the streets of New York. She nails the interview, but ends up underemployed as a part of the “asset protection” team. This totally happened to me right after college, and Jacobson plays the excited to get a job and nervously joking about her “uniform” with disappointment in her real position with a lot of empathy. Poor Abbi just can’t catch or sustain a break this season either in her personal or professional life.

Bolstered by strong guest and supporting performances from Zephyr Ingle, Steve Buscemi and the always reliable Hannibal Burress and Arturo Castro as Lincoln and Jaime, “Bedbugs” is a back to basics episode of Broad City showing the painful comedy of underemployment and catastrophic life situations. Also, I’m surprised that it took almost 40 episodes for the show to deal with one of the most New York problems ever…

Overall Verdict: 8.7

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

TV Review: Broad City S4E7 Florida

In a solid, yet unspectacular episode of Broad City with the amazing stunt casting of Fran Drescher as Ilana’s Aunt Beverly, Abbi and Ilana travel with Ilana’s mom (Susi Essman) and brother Eliot (Eliot Glazer) to Florida to pack up and divide her grandmother Esther’s worldly possessions after her passing. “Florida” is also Ilana Glazer’s directorial debut, and her greatest contribution to this episode is using a handheld camera to slowly puff, puff, pan between each member of the Wexler extended family and smooth out all tensions, including Ilana’s aunt and mom fighting over a family heirloom or Eliot being on the phone.

“Florida” is also proof that Broad City isn’t afraid to get political two episodes in a row as Glazer and writer Jen Statsky spin a fish out of water tale of blue state millennials visiting a red state. After dealing with frizzy hair and community Abbi and Ilana become true suburban kweens and  immediately fall in love with the low rents, green grass, and orange trees of Florida and are even okay with grannies toting assault rifles and “Make America Great Again” because the rent is so damn low. ($425 a month to rent a spacious condo halved between two roommates, please confirm this Floridians.) However, by the end of the episode and after some racist and homophobic slurs (The good, elderly folks at Darling Estates think Abbi and Ilana are a couple.), they realize that maybe the Florida life isn’t for them, and they’re better off braving the frozen pipes of New York that the hot, bigoted sun of the “dangling dick of America”.

I liked how throughout the whole episode that Statsky had Abbi and Ilana try to adapt to life in Florida and think old people are adorable with their tennis matches, white fish salads, and casual racism, but then realized how alien this world is to theirs. There is a golden bit of writing when Abbi and Ilana talk to two separate old ladies about having sex with JFK and realize that this wasn’t achievement for either of them, and he was a creep. They are old tennis rivals and a possible reflection of Abbi and Ilana when they grow up. The whole campaigning to be the newest, youngest residents of these condos is frankly hilarious if filled with the undertone of systemic racism as Abbi and Ilana realize that the only people of color at the condos are gardeners, nurses, and paramedics. It’s super awkward.

The B and C plots of “Florida”  have great comedic potential, especially with the annoying nature of airline hold lines,  Eliot Glazer’s willingness to rock old lady fashion, and the verbal sparring between Susi Essman and Fran Drescher. However, they kind of just sizzle out, and don’t get the nurturing of Abbi and Ilana running around the Florida suburbs with MTV style cuts to them rolling in Grandma Esther’s Cadillac. Drescher and Essman are super believable sisters, and the logic of their arguments are quite humorous with Beverly saying that Grandma Esther’s ring is the closest she’ll ever have to an engagement ring. But Glazer cuts away far too often to the suburban shenanigans as Drescher continues to make the argument for her getting an “auteur style” sitcom like Aziz Ansari’s Master of None or Donald Glover’s Atlanta. We definitely need more hilarious, middle aged women like her doing comedy TV. (Also, shout out to The Nanny for being one of the greatest Nick at Nite shows ever.)

Jen Statsky and Ilana Glazer mine the deep romantic subtext between Abbi and Ilana in “Florida” as they fleetingly consider living together in a world that hates and fears them. This episode is good for a few painful, fish out of water laughs, and Broad City hits the guest star jackpot again with Fran Drescher. But it’s greatest development is the possible reunion of Ilana and Lincoln (Hannibal Burress) with a gender reversal of the classic “big gesture” romantic comedy trope that is too adorable to spoil here.

Overall: 7.7

TV Review: Broad City S4E6 Witches

In “Witches”, director/co-star Abbi Jacobson and writer Gabe Liedman expertly blend magical realism and super harsh realism in an episode that is a sex positive celebration of women and sisterhood of all ages and ethnicities and also a comedic slug to Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s hypocritical, misogynistic, unworthy to be president and vice president’s chests. They go for another separate and then converging amazingly plot lines featuring Abbi and Ilana. Abbi finds her first grey hair and then sells her art outside the Met and starts to think she’s a witch that isn’t helped by her new BFF, Margo (Classic SNL actor Jane Curtin) . While this is going on, Ilana is talking to a sex therapist and has a giant epiphany that she hasn’t had an orgasm since November 8, 2016.

November 8 is the fateful day that Donald Trump was elected president (And I drank half a case of Modelo.), and saying the numbers 2016 (and 2017) became synonymous with terrible, shitty thing we don’t want to think about. However, unlike some comedies, Liedman, Jacobson, and Broad City go full tilt about how terrible he is, and how his election has had a real effect on the mental (and sexual) health of many Americans, including women. And they do it an sexy, slapstick-y, montage way with Ilana using her vibrator in front of the therapist and trying to think about happy things, like “average sized dicks” or even Abbi, but then shuddering about Mike Pence or Trump’s hot mic comments to Billy Bush. It’s done in an awkwardly humorous manner, but Broad City takes the fight to the Trump regime in “Witches”, and with a glorious montage of historical and contemporary women from Jacobson, becomes Comedy Central’s true leader of the resistance putting the South Park kids and Trevor Noah to shame.

Unity between women is definitely the through-line in “Witches”, which culminates in a dream-like gathering of rad women of all ages in a part of Central Park that Abbi and Ilana have never been to. During her plotline, Abbi bonds with fellow artist Margo, who seems to have all the same interests as Abbi, even though she’s decades older and with a dermatologist Dr. Fuller (Played by Inside Amy Schumer‘s Greta Lee.), who offers her chemical solutions to her aging problem after she finds one grey hair. Gabe Liedman could have used this scene between Dr. Fuller and Abbi to poke fun at women who do these kind of treatments, but instead, they end up bonding, and towards the end of the episode, Ilana has a non-judgmental attitude towards women, who do things like skin peels and Botox during one of her many post-montage orgasms.

Continuing a major part of her character arc in Season 4, Abbi runs into one of her exes, Jeremy, a neighbor she had a crush on and then pegged in the memorable episode “Knockoffs”. However, he was a huge hipster snob and hasn’t been seen on the show in a while. In Season 4, he is a “co-parenting” an adopted black child with an extra from Garden State and really seems to have his life together after throwing down a crisp $100 dollar bill  on the “struggling artist” Abbi. It’s kind of nauseating and makes Abbi sad that she doesn’t have a job and hasn’t really done much with her life except for get her first grey hair. But she does get to howl at the moon with some amazing ladies and not have to worry about those unemployment/quarter life crisis fears for at least one night as Liedman and Jacobson go for the magical side of the realism coin to close out “Witches”.

In “Witches”, Abbi, Ilana, and their new friends show that women are awesome, and that powerful, abusive, misogynistic men like Trump suck and are a burden on society. Down with the patriarchy, and long live the covens. It’s also very nice to see older women get to be funny, insightful, and cut loose a little bit on a show that is usually about people in their twenties so it’s fitting that Golden Girls is the last image in the “amazing women” montage before Jacobson cuts to black.

Overall: 8.0

TV Review: Broad City S4E05 “Abbi’s Mom”

“Abbi’s Mom” begins with a killer cold open from director Nicholas Jasenovec that is familiar to anyone who has ever speed cleaned and used special techniques to hide “sinful” things in their apartment from their parents. Jasenovec doesn’t shoot the scene with any kind of big camera flourishes or slow-mo like he uses later in the episode, but uses lots of fairly quick cuts and digs into the visual comedy of it all like Abbi thinking her mom will think her dildo is a kind of artsy knick knack or Ilana making a “Welcome Abbi’s Mom” poster for her. The cold open also ties neatly into the theme of parents and/or adult authority figure not being as put together as we thought they were when we were younger that writer Ilana Glazer chooses to focus on in this episode. This is in addition to a plot line that features Ilana’s seasonal affective disorder (SAD) hindering her performance at work at Sushi Mambeaux, especially when Marcel sets up a “winner takes all and the loser gets fired” Glengarry Glen Ross style table waiting contest.

Peri Gilpin, who was easily the best part of Frasier, turns in a performance as Abbi’s mom Joanne that is honest, funny, and tragic. At the beginning of the episode, it seems like Jasenovec and Glazer are setting up a whole “moms/middle age women” go bad kind of scenario, and Abbi and Joanne do shots, smoke weed, and even go shopping in a sex shop together during the closing credits tag. However, this “bad” behavior comes from Joanne feeling her mortality as a 55 year old woman when she gets a lump on her breast removed and realizes that she hasn’t “lived” as much as she wanted to.

She laments the fact that she and her current husband haven’t had sex in over a month and says that she penetrated herself with a bottle of cough syrup in a very matter of fact way that turns into total giggles when she starts smoking weed with Abbi. It’s super sad, but Gilpin gets the role of the overly moral mom with the hilarious delivery of lines like “I have never had a martini” or “I haven’t had hard liquor since I was pregnant with you.” She does broad comedy well too like when Ilana admits to being sexually attracted to her and when, of course, she flirts with a shirtless Bevers. Gilpin and Jacobson play off each other very well, especially with Abbi in semi-crisis mode after her very scripted, touristy plans for her and her mom go completely to hell thanks to Joanne’s midlife crisis.

Abbi really is the calm in the storm of “Abbi’s Mom” between messing around with tin foil to “MacGyver” the SAD lamp that Ilana has been carrying around everywhere to be like a functional human being and keeping her mom from having a public meltdown. Her being the glue between Ilana and Joanne’s storyline gives this episode a coherent, almost bottle episode structure with most of its running time happening in the unique ecosystem that is Sushi Mambeaux. From the beginning of the episode, it seems like Abbi and her mom will range over New York like she and Ilana have done in previous episodes of Broad City, but they basically chill at Ilana’s very upscale work.

By sticking Abbi, Ilana, and Joanne in this space, Nicholas Jasenovec shows how depression can make you feel trapped, not like yourself, and doing strange things to cope instead of taking more medication or going to therapy because that would mean you have “problems.” He uses a kind of slow haze effect in scenes that would be an upbeat hip hop montage like previous episodes set at the restaurant where Ilana makes a fortune with tips. Jasenovec and Glazer show Ilana at her most vulnerable, which Marcel thinks is some long con for the table waiting contest, but he eventually realizes that her depression is affecting her work performance and is empathetic in his own supremely petty way. It also allows RuPaul Charles to add a touch of dramatic nuance to his usual one-liner flinging and shade throwing.

“Abbi’s Mom” tackles the issues of depression, midlife crises and regrets, and mother/daughter relationships and still manages to be a devilishly funny episode of Broad City with RuPaul Charles continuing to build a case for a Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Emmy nomination.

Overall Verdict: 9.0

TV Review: Broad City S4E4 Mushrooms

Man, I think a got a contact high from this episode. In Broad City Season 4, Episode 4 “Mushrooms”, writer Abbi Jacobson and director Nicholas Jasenovec cut loose animator Mike Perry, who has mostly worked on the show’s title sequence, to do an almost fully animated mushroom sequence. “Mushrooms” is one of Broad City‘s most stunning episodes to date with vibrant colors and little visual jokes like a skateboarder using a pat of butter to get across a pancake and a kooky blend of animation and live action when Abbi and Ilana run into the real world, namely, getting macarons for Abbi’s boss, Dara’s (Wanda Sykes) wife. But, like a bad trip combined with smoking weed, “Mushrooms” gets a little dark at the end, and Abbi gets some consequences for doing drugs around her boss, oops.

But before the comedown, there’s a glorious trip courtesy of the imagination of Jacobson, Jasenovec, and Perry. It’s a cliche to say that New York is a living organism and/or character in Broad City, but this tired sentiment is truer than ever in “Mushrooms”. Even though they’re playing their characters in voiceover, Jacobson and Glazer bound with energy and big thoughts about love, how moms are basically superheroes, and how pickles and French people are cool. Jasenovec revels in Abbi and Ilana’s trip for the first third or so of the episode and doesn’t cut away to live action people gawking at them, but explores the alleys and tunnels and rivers of this experience with a Bingo Bronson cameo playing the cherry on top. After their separation in previous episodes, it’s also nice to see Abbi and Ilana together enjoying life. The word “love” pops up a lot so this whole sequence is basically an animated dream world version of their friendship. I could look at the color palette of the animation all day and definitely smiled when their tripping-balls-high-five activated the Broad City 1-2-3-4.

Jacobson, Jasenovec, and Perry somewhat (He gives Abbi and Ilana big eyes to differentiate their tripping selves from the regular people they bump into.) continue the happiness into the real world as even tripping on mushrooms, Abbi and Ilana successfully deliver the macarons to Abbi’s boss. Yay, adulting! Also, the macaron buying sequence is another excuse for pretty colors and for Perry to animate an entire scene set in Paris with the character who sells the macarons to them speaking only French. Abbi and Ilana’s speaking patterns are a little off, like Ilana speaking on a beat and clapping when talking with Dara, but they find success to match the color of their trip. Dara has seen Abbi’s old art school website and offers to take time out of her busy schedule to meet with her while Ilana somehow has lucked her way into what ends up being a very kinky three way with an attractive, wealthy couple at the party. However, drugs and professional/sexual opportunities don’t mix unfortunately, and Jacobson takes “Mushrooms to the dark side as Abbi and Ilana come of their trip.

Towards the end of “Mushroom”, Jasenovec and Jacobson give consequences for Abbi and Ilana splitting up just before they’re having a bad trip and mixing mushrooms and weed too early in a logical, very non-anti drug PSA way. When Abbi and Ilana smoke a little too much weed mixed with the mushrooms, Jasenovec slows down the camera speed while showing puffs of color as they become even more incoherent. They have no idea how to act at a party or do sexy things with Ilana constantly going to the bathroom and having hallucinations of Lincoln (Hannibal Burress) because deep down Abbi’s situation is a lot of worst even though initially it looks like her boss is going to be cool with her tripping balls because it’s a weekend, and she’s artsy. But, then, it gets dark and funny when Dara discovers her cat dead and smashed against a door. Yes, Abbi is a pet killer, and it will be interesting to see the upcoming episodes explore the fallout of something I definitely laughed at, but is terrible. So, the girls’ first experience with mushroom didn’t go as planned even though there were definitely some pretty colors in the early going.

“Mushrooms” is definitely one of the most creative and definitely immersive episodes of Broad City thanks to the animation work of Mike Perry, who uses bright colors and dream logic to reinforce the show’s most primal ideas of friendship and having a good time. To be honest, the animation in this episode is superior to a lot of current animated shows like Adventure Time or any of the Netflix animated originals not named Bojack Horseman. But, like a lot of this season and the year 2017 itself, it ends up having a darker bent and consequences. Abbi especially takes one step forward at her boss’ party and then gets thrown off the path five states over.

Overall Rating: 9.8

TV Review: Broad City S4E3 Just the Tips

You gotta love episode titles that are triple entendre, and this week’s episode of Broad City, “Just the Tips”, references the mad dough that Ilana is racking up as a waitress working double shifts at an upscale Manhattan sushi restaurant, her dollar bill/Obama filled $428 nails that she gets done on her day off, and also Jaime’s episode-long pondering about finally get circumcised. Yeah, director Neil Daly and writer Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello begin the episode all salad days-y with Abbi enjoying sex with her “boyfriend” of six days, and Ilana getting ready to spend some money and party after a rare day off from waitressing.

The first half of the episode is decadent and disgusting as hell with money being thrown around, Ilana knowing no boundaries and trying on new leotards in a sex shop with her brother, and Abbi being totally insufferable about her new boyfriend aka the paramedic from last episode. She mentions him at work meetings and in her voice mail and even ditches a pretty rockin’ party to take selfies for him on a fire escape than turns into her “comforting” a woman (Miriam Shor), who is in a rough spot in a long term relationship. Daly shoots the scene like a mumblecore flick with Jacobson and Shor playing it like empathy filled drama until it takes a turn for the absurd when Jacobson adds some big pauses and extra adjectives to her delivery of the line that she’s been in a relationship for six days. The bubble of her perfect life is popped, and maybe Abbi isn’t “relationship material”. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Do you, girl, and also, Broad City makes a decent dramedy at times. Bevers will always be creepy though especially when he randomly climbs into bed with Abbi and asks about her “man meat”.

Glazer really gets to flex (Literally with her newfound wealth and in the acting department.) in “Just the Tips” making a leotard, dreamsicle wig combo work, throwing back drinks, snorting coke, and genuinely living like a rock star while Abbi is stuck in the second act of a really bad romantic comedy. She’s work very hard and deserves to play hard, dammit. However, Downs and Aniello go beyond just the partying and introduce the variable of Lincoln’s return (Hannibal Burress) with his very even keel, normal girlfriend Steph at the party Ilana was invited to. (And forgot who the host was, oops.) The upbeat score turns a little sadcore, and Ilana kind of loses her composure and realizes how ridiculous she looks before shitting her leotard. And with Abbi doing her relationship counselor, it’s Lincoln, who unzips her leotard so she can clean up. They have a real talk about how they wanted different things in a relationship, and it’s very mature with a side of poop jokes. Ilana definitely had an impact on a certain stage of Lincoln’s life, but he’s ready to do the whole “settle down” thing now.

In Broad City Season 4, Jacobson, Glazer, Aniello, and Downs have consciously tried to write Abbi and Ilana as more mature characters instead of being in a kind of arrested development. But I like how even though they have found professional success that they still make mistakes and are learning about how to navigate relationships and friendship in a pretty hilarious way. One reason I love Broad City is that even when it leans into the characters’ interpersonal drama, it never gets too self-serious. Deciding to have a circumcision as an adult is nice fodder for a C-plot, and it’s nice to see Jaime out on the town rocking a boa and black skirt.

Overall Verdict: 8.0

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