Tag Archives: Ilana Glazer

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

TV Review: Broad City S4E2 Twaining Day

“Twaining Day”  has two hilarious plot lines, two big time celebrity guest stars (Shania Twain as herself, and RuPaul as a Manhattan sushi “restauranteur” Marcel), and Abbi and Ilana going solo for most of the episode. Four seasons in, Broad City has never met a running gag it didn’t like, and writer/director Lucia Aniello and co-writer Paul W. Downs craft an entire an actual A-plot around Abbi training country pop star Shania Twain, who is a comedic gem. Abbi’s unexpected return to Soulstice also brings closure to her romantic (Well, mostly sexual.) relationship with Trey, still played with fantastic earnestness by Downs.

But before Ru Paul starts slinging one-liners, and Twain is more interested in “dishing” about Abbi and Trey’s relationship, Aniello and Downs get a little political in “Twaining Day’s” cold open where Abbi and Ilana are working as women’s clinic escorts fighting off anti-abortion protesters with the power of pink jerseys and puffs of a hash pipe. As a resident of a state with only remaining abortion clinic and personally witnessing graphic imagery in flashbulb billboards and harsh shouting of “pro-life” protesters on my route to work for a whole week, it’s very cool that Broad City aligns itself with progressive causes. Abbi is right that “everyone should chill out”, and maybe men should just chill out and eat giant cookies while under the effects of a contact high instead of telling women what they can or can’t do with their bodies.

Following this fantastic cold open and some gorgeous shots of a graphic design/artsy office space where Abbi is some sort of an executive assistant from Aniello, “Twaining Day” turns its attention to Ilana v. Marcel: Dawn of Sass-ness. Aniello and Downs play with the forced subservience of tip earning service professionals plus the (fading) gourmet reputation of Manhattan restaurants as well as Ru Paul’s (and his imitators) own persona to whip up one tasty Ilana plot. As a character who is often pure id, Ilana takes no shit from Marcel, when he says that she basically isn’t high class enough to work at Sushi Mambo. She goes full asshole and ends up earning his begrudging respect especially when she trips the oldest waiter on staff and gets the nickname “Other Tonya Harding”.

Glazer has real range as a comedian, and it’s a treat to see her shed her daffy, stoner persona and bite down on icy one-liners with a score and swoopy transitions that wouldn’t be out of place on Drag Race. But we know that’s not Ilana and couple literal tin foil monologues, and she’s back to her high energy, fun having self and earning boatloads of tips from all age groups with her quick compliments and knowledge of the best type of sushi to have after a heavy weed smoking session. Throughout the series, Ilana has been established as an outgoing, if non-filter having people person and working this kind of fast paced job fits her personality and is a big step in her growing up process. Plus Glazer and Ru Paul have an excellent repartee that shouldn’t just be wasted on one episode.

While Ilana advances in her career in “Twaining Day”, Abbi regresses a little bit making a terrible, lying excuse about her parent’s divorce to ditch work and pick up a random package at Soulstice. Lying isn’t one of her strong suits, and she utterly fails at subterfuge in trying to get the package and ends up having really hot, genital fracturing makeup sex with Trey and also training Shania Twain along the way. With the help of some improvised vocals from Twain (As confirmed by a behind the scenes featurette.), Abbi realizes that she only has a physical bond with Trey and may not be “relationship material”. And that’s okay as long she is honest with herself about her needs and feelings.

The last third of the episode is one big love letter from Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs (Who both writes and plays Trey) to Abbi and Trey shippers shooting sex scenes from really hot angles (That steam room equals yum.) that are comedically tempered by the fact that Abbi is little annoyed by the new Soulstice cleaner’s sense in interior decor. This combo of sexiness and awkwardness encapsulates Trey and Abbi’s relationship as they have real chemistry, but not much to talk about. However, it’s nice to have “Twaining Day” tie a bow on what was a big part of Abbi’s solo plots over the past three seasons and end her time as a “pube situation” cleaner with a glitzy celebrity cameo that reminded me a lot of Kelly Ripa’s in Broad City Season 2 where a notorious diva-ish celebrity ends up being funny, down to Earth, and a great fit for the show.

With a couple stellar guest performances from Shania Twain and Ru Paul plus some growth for Ilana and a complicated mixture of growth, regression, and closure for Abbi, “Twaining Day” shows that solo Ilana and Abbi plotlines can be just as fun as them together. Plus it nails the super awkwardness of returning to your old work where you’re pretty sure most of the people there resent you.

Overall Verdict: 8.5

Review: Broad City S4E1 Sliding Doors

Broad City is back for its fourth season, and its premiere “Sliding Doors” is the show’s most structurally ambitious episode with some laughs, feels, and wigs along the way. Writers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer and director Lucia Aniello do an episode long riff on the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors and posit the question, “Were Abbi and Ilana fated to be friends?” The product is part alternative universe, part origin story, and it’s all set in the great year, 2011, when our president was black, and maybe Young Jeezy had a blue Lamborghini. (I can neither confirm nor deny this fact.)  Glazer and Jacobson play with expectations and aren’t afraid to show that before meeting each other that Abbi and Ilana were kinda pathetic.

Jacobson and Glazer run two parallel narratives through “Sliding Doors”: one is that Abbi and Ilana miss their train and end up hanging out all day like a typical episode of Broad City, and another where they make the train and end up off by themselves having a miserable day until the last scene of the episode. In this second narrative, Jacobson and Glazer expose the cracks in Abbi and Ilana’s characters like Abbi not standing up for herself and getting her ponytail snipped off and accidentally setting up Bever’s free-loader arc. (2011 Bevers is quite ripped, however.) And Ilana is just a mess, sleeping with expensive coffee in the bathroom at her barista job, and wandering into a college class where she has a presentation and forgetting what day and time it is, and what the class is. While she makes her walk of a shame to the front (A relatable moment to anyone who is afraid of public speaking, especially when utterly unprepared.), Aniello cuts to her whispering and harassing fellow, nameless students, a visual of foreshadowing about how she treats her co-workers and the unpaid interns in that one episode at Deals Deals Deals.

My favorite parts of “Sliding Doors” were all the various meet-cute moments showing the genuine connection that Abbi and Ilana. And it’s mostly little stuff. They bond over a shared love of pizza, weed, and wanting to be a throuple with the Obamas. Abbi also thinks that Ilana looks better with curly hair than straightened, and Aniello lingers on her unstraightening her hair and creating the signature Ilana ‘do early in the episode. It’s up there with Tony Stark’s first flight in the Mark II armor in Iron Man, or James Bond shooting a gun at the camera in Casino Royale. Abbi and Ilana just vibe and work well together even if Abbi has much more of a filter and is a little less outgoing.

“Sliding Doors” also has a really damn good plot twist for a half hour comedy show, and you almost have to rewatch the episode to get the full context for the real and “fantasy” way that Abbi and Ilana met. Until the surprise, semi-political ending, the fake way that Abbi and Ilana meet plays like a fantasy New York romantic comedy with more weed, bowls, and a burrito bowl devouring played by Jane Krakowski, who is more Professor Trelawney than Long Island Medium. Keeping these Broad City-isms, whether jokes or visual motifs, helps the surprise linger longer.

However, the real meeting between Abbi and Ilana is much messier and kind of random than their epic quest through New York. It nails the weird logistical reality of making friends as an adult when you run into one another at the same bars, shops, or coffee places and eventually add each other on Facebook and maybe even hang out eventually. Aniello, Jacobson, and Glazer also get the immediate chemistry between Abbi and Ilana beginning with their “obviously had a hard day” appearance like Abbi’s “artsty” haircut or Ilana’s baggy white T-shirt she wears because some asshole stole her tank top and then we get the walking, talking, and smoking as their bond slowly begins to form.

Using a complex, yet thoroughly entertaining, interweaving plot structure that would make those cute, breakdancing NYU-Tisch students smile, Lucia Aniello, Abbi Jacobson, and Ilana Glazer tell the origin story of one the best female friendships on TV and basically how Abbi and Ilana were meant to be. Also, 2011 Bevers is quite sexy, and Abbi’s bangs were so cute back in the day.

Verdict: 9.0

TV Review: Broad City S3E10 “Jews On A Plane”


Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

Whereas previous Broad City finales have gone expansive and used all of New York as a canvas (See “St. Marks” and even non-stop running/tracking shot Season 2 finale over the Broad City featuring an Amy Poehler cameo.), “Jews On A Plane” stays very tight and contained. The entire plot happens while Abbi and Ilana are on the flight to Israel to be a part of Birthmark (A parody of Birthright.), a free trip to Israel for young Jewish people to learn about their heritage and maybe even make babies. (And it’s not without its controversies, including its treatment of Palestinians and the two state solution as I discussed in my last review.)  And unfortunately Abbi gets her period after she and Ilana finally play the world’s biggest game of Tetris and end him sitting one seat away each other with a guy between them, who is asleep, so they treat themselves to his headphones and a free movie. He turns out to be dead. This turn of events is a cliche, but it’s fun to see Abbi and Ilana show off their hustle in high altitude.

“Jews On A Plane” is excellent satire of American society’s stigma about women and their periods, and how privilege plays into this between Abbi’s yelps of pain. For example,  while Abbi and Ilana are bemoaning the long line for the bathroom as Ilana McGyvers a makeshift tampon from pita, string, and other sundries, she says that this is how homeless women must feel. Then, there’s a pause and a moment of silence from director John Lee, and you can almost hear Ilana and Abbi catching their privilege especially after Abbi says something about choosing between food and tampons. This is a serious discussion and leads into the declaration that tampons can be free. (They’re not free yet, but some states are starting to remove the absurd “tampon tax” when freakin Viagara is tax exempt.) There is also a momentarily humorous and just plain real moment when Abbi and Ilana are looking for tampons amongst their fellow passengers, and Abbi talking to an older woman not realizing that she’s going through menopause. The actress playing the menopausal woman delivers an amazing line about women with menopause not getting representation in pop culture, and it’s very cutting. Throughout “Jews On A Plane, Glazer and Jacobson aren’t afraid to use Abbi’s period for comedy and to spur on the plot’s main action which is Abbi and Ilana’s epic quest to get a packet of tampons in first class while the flight attendants are on their own mission.

An interesting thing about “Jews on a Plane” is that writers Glazer and Jacobson spend quite a bit of time developing and looking into the characters of two flight attendants played by Tymberlee Hill and Annie Lee. Mona (Hill) is freaking out about not having anything to tell her old high school classmates at their upcoming reunion and is cycling through fictitious ones like being Beyonce’s nanny to stealing some of Annie Lee’s one like getting a bone marrow transplant. Their dialogue isn’t super funny, and they aren’t compassionate towards Abbi’s tampon-less plight, but they definitely share a bond. (Except midway in the episode, Lee says that she is tired of Mona only talking about herself, and that she doesn’t “like” her.) And this bond and desire to be the stars of their own quirky little story (Much like every episode of Broad City.) leads to them thinking Abbi and Ilana are terrorists and tackling them in a fun slow motion sequence featuring Lee checking her Fit-Bit as she goes over 10,000 steps while Abbi sings the Christian hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!”, a shining example of her less than orthodox Judaism. The focus on these two, not particularly noteworthy characters posits the idea that they are the stars in their own version of Broad City, but with hijinks and pitfalls centered around being flight attendants and being a little bit older than Abbi and Ilana. Honestly, we’re all starring in our own version of Broad City right now.

In a season full of great guest stars, Seth Green of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Austin Powers, and Robot Chicken fame is the ginger cherry on top as Jared, the tour guide, who starts as overly earnest, but ends up telling Ilana that he’s only emphasizing the coupling of young Jewish people to get more commission money on the trip. This definitely turns her on with a quick flash of her erect nipples before cutting to a makeout session in the airplane restroom. He enjoys Ilana’s circumcision humor and joins the “Mohel Chai” club with her in an extremely clever joke that has to be explained for Abbi and some members of the audience, including yours truly.

But like many recurring gags this season, Broad City can start overusing a joke, but then there will be a nifty editing trick or line delivery from a supporting character that makes it fresh again. (Like the flight attendant glancing obsessively at her Fit Bit for the fourth or fifth time that episode during the slow mo sequence.) And sometimes the joke is just dead sadly, like the pilot and co-pilot going down on each other causing turbulence. But, for the most part, Broad City has grown more confident in its third season and become slick stylistically, adding serialized elements, and going deeper into the characters of Abbi and Ilana by looking at Abbi’s family life and Ilana’s inability to be employed. I don’t think anything can top Ilana and Abbi “switching places” in the second episode though.

Overall Rating: 8.0
Broad City Season 3

TV Review: Broad City S3E09 Getting There


Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

In the penultimate episode of Broad City Season 3, the show has gone full fledged serialized, and there’s even a little “to be continued” tag instead of the usual jokes and outtakes as the credits roll. But before Abbi and Ilana go into the great unknown aka Israel with Jared (played by Seth Green) as their tour guide, they get one last intense, fun, wacky, and a little morbid New York misadventure beginning with free (meaning stinky) yoga and ending with them taking their New York street skills to the JFK Airport as no one will get in their path of a free trip to Israel.

After last episode, which zeroed in on Abbi and Ilana’s relationships with Trey and Lincoln respectively, writers Jacobson and Glazer wisely decide to focus on their friendship even though Jaime (Arturo Castro) gets a few scene stealing moments like helping Ilana pack super quickly while wearing no pants and getting ready for a nice masturbation session on the couch a la Abbi dancing naked to “The Edge of Glory” when she realizes Bevers (John Gemberling) has left the apartment. And director Todd Biermann relies on a lot of Broad City standard visuals, like quick cuts between Ilana and Abbi contrasting their behavior, a fast tracking shot as they sprint through the JFK Airport, and a percussion heavy soundtrack. The episode’s story and look might come off as “typical Broad City“, but he also switches things up a little with a longer take of Abbi and Ilana playing a game of “fuck, marry, eat” when there’s a subway stoppage for 30 minutes and burns rubber as a 15 year old son of a taxi driver finally takes Abbi and Ilana to the airport immediately running a stop sign.

As mentioned earlier, the “going somewhere” plot has been use a multitude of times in Broad City, but Jacobson and Glazer keep things clever and occasionally dark, like a great conversation about eating a super cute baby and what parts would be the best on it followed by a lingering shot of the baby’s mother staring into the distance. This probably isn’t the weirdest thing she’s heard today. The recurring reference to Abbi’s butt (Ilana greets her as “Ass” when they try to take the subway to the airport.) also pays off in the form of a plot beat as Ilana’s prayer to it leads to the train restarting. And her hustling ability pays off in a slightly disgusting, yet mega hilarious joke that is also a callback to the “Pussy Weed” episode as Ilana smuggles weed in her vagina (Or “nature’s pocket”.) by wearing period blood stained jeans and gets past security pretty easily. Glazer and Jacobson poke fun at the societal taboos that unfortunately exist around menstruation, and the joke goes beyond simple satire by adding the nervous tension of smuggling drugs past the ever watchful TSA. All the events in the airport are super fun to watch, especially once Abbi and Ilana use their bags to creatively navigate the terminals.

And the final payoff of the episode after Glazer and Jacobson wisely build suspense by not revealing too much about their final destination, and their destination is a ten day trip to Israel as part of a real life program called Birthright meant for Jewish youth 18 to 26 to learn more about Judaism by visiting what Jared calls the “holiest of lands”. (Birthright has come under a lot of heat for being anti-Palestinian, against the two state solution, focusing on Zionism at the expense of other forms of Judaism, or just being plain unhelpful.) The last few minutes show how Abbi and Ilana feel like outsiders among the other Birthright participants, especially their creepy leader Jared, who mentions their “reproductive potential” as soon as they enter the cabin. Glazer and Jacobson go for broad parody of Birthright in this sequence while also creating a sad, emotional moment of Ilana and Abbi separating.

“Getting There” is zippy progression from the familiar Broad City plot beats of Abbi and Ilana running around New York with the added obstacles of teenage taxi drivers and airport issues to the unfamiliar as they go on the Birthright trip. We’ll find out if it’s the fun trip they thought it would be in next week’s season finale.

Also, special thanks to Graphic Policy’s Elana for giving me some additional information about Birthright.

Rating: 7.7

TV Review: Broad City S308 Burning Bridges


Over the past 28 episodes (and a webseries), we’ve had the chance to hang out with Abbi and Ilana through their misadventures, awkward moments, and epic journeys. “Burning Bridges” uses this built up good will and characterization and just lets the emotions come out. Because this is a turning point for Broad City as a show and Ilana and Abbi as characters, it fitting that Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are on writing duties on an episode that shifts the status quo. Abbi and Trey’s (Paul W Downs) one month sex friends thing ends, and the longer, more emotionally resonant relationship between Ilana and Winston (Hannibal Burress) is also over. And it’s not like they’re friends or anything because their former open relationship complicates. I hope that Winston makes a cameo or two as the series continues because Burress’ matter of fact, deadpan delivery is great, and he has a great callback gag in this episode as he is still lugging around Blake Griffin’s basketball shoe as man purse.

But first, the funny stuff. Director Lucia Aniello leads off with a split screen cold open, but switches things up by using a 360 camera effect that you may have seen in those annoying ads on Facebook. The open itself is a simple, yet funny as Ilana has to take a drug test at work and using Abbi’s urine even though she smokes a lot of weed as well. It’s also connected to this episode’s conclusion with the shared drug as companionship motif because they might lie to each other and have relationship struggles, but at the end of the day, they’re still just two friends smoking weed in the bathtub Wait this paragraph was only going to talk about funny things in Broad City, but the feels keep creeping up, which is basically the experience of watching “Burning Bridges”.

For example, the tense, painful for anyone who has tried being in an open or polysexual relationship conversation between Ilana and Winston is preceded by a sunny tracking shot montage of Ilana blithely going through her day. It seems like yet another manic Mon, er, Ilana day, but it gets a little darker when Abbi takes a chair from a guy, who was using it to From his actions on the show and general demeanor, Lincoln is really a kind human being and is trying to let down Ilana as easily as possible. He is straightforward and self-aware about their relationship and wisely doesn’t play the “just friends” card because they’ve really only been sex buddies or talking about sex with other people buddies this season.

But this doesn’t mean Ilana doesn’t feel hurt. And there is a searing pain in her eyes the whole the rest of the episode that she tries to cure with cat-calling random men and women while she’s sitting on a bench with her parents, making out with a married man she falsely assumes is in an open relationship and ends up being a jerk, and just plain walking out when she sees Abbi with Trey. She is currently at a very low point in both her life and career, but Glazer and Jacobson show shades of her old self as she makes dick jokes while smoking weed as the credits wrap. That’s one coping mechanism for heartbreak.

The centerpiece of the episode is a dinner scene as Ilana is celebrating her parents’ anniversary with her brother Eliot (Eliot Glazer) while Abbi is going on her first actual date with Trey. It’s a series of tried and true comedic misunderstandings that culminates in an epic parkour sequence as Trey does the Heimlich on Mrs. Wexel (Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Susi Essman) and finally realize the reason why Abbi has been making worse and worst excuses to leave the table as the night has gone on. (Jacobson’s best work comes when there’s a little truth to the lie like telling Trey, “I’m emotional tonight.”) The fallout of the show is what blows the episode apart as Trey walks in on Abbi telling Ilana that he thinks he’s a “joke” while trying to reunite with him. This is bound to make things awkward because he is her boss at Soulstice. There could be another job search episode in her future.

Burning Bridges” is a huge and potentially risky move for Broad City as Glazer, Jacobson, and Aniello play with some loose serialization by turning Trey and Abbi’s relationship into a kind of three act comedy of errors with a drunk “komboozecha” filled kiss, a Pixar move induced one night stand, and finally an attempt at a real date that fails miserably. Ilana’s storylines have been looser this season with everything from mishaps at a food co-op to volunteering for the Hilary Clinton campaign, but her breakup with Winston is definitely a huge fixed point in her arc and an opportunity to show both her dramatic and comedic range as a performer. And it’s super sad too unless you ship Abbi and Ilana. (This reviewer might…)

Overall Rating: 9.0

TV Review: Broad City S3E07 B&B-NYC


Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

On this week’s Broad City, writers Paul W Downs and Lucia Aniello introduce a couple drama bombs into an episode about sub-letting and sex with NBA players. (Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers spends more time sans clothes than with them on.) First, there is the loss of most of Abbi’s worldly possessions as her charming French boarder, Henri, isn’t what he seems and runs off with her stuff for seemingly no reason.  In most stories, this would be the setup for a steamy Euro-romance, but Downs and Aniello just make it an instance of being robbed in New York City with the police assigned to Abbi’s robbery running off to apprehend “a black male pretending to read on a bench” in a darkly satirical takedown of systemic racism.

The second drama bomb happens in the slow fracturing of Abbi and Ilana’s relationship, but it’s played pretty slow and subtle until Abbi lies to Ilana’s face about being alone. This is because she decided to have sex with her co-worker Trey (played by Downs), who she calls to keep her company after the break-in. Downs and Jacobson have a kind of breezy, yet slightly awkward chemistry that stems from their mismatched interests. Trey is into fitness (He said he’d have his “cheat meal” at Remy’s restaurant in Ratatouille, the movie that he and Abbi watch.) beyond it just being his job while Abbi cares more about art. However, Trey is interested in Abbi’s art and even amuses her by pretending to be a cubist painting. But there is something off about their pairing, and this is possibly why Abbi lied to Ilana about having sex with them when they are usually super open about their sex lives. Hopefully, it will be expanded upon in later episodes.

However, this lie isn’t just an attempt to create drama for drama’s sake. Director Lucia Aniello hints at it throughout the episode as Abbi and Ilana (who are killing time until their tenants leave because they have nowhere to crash) overhear a loud, obnoxious pedestrian talking about a private party at the 40/40 Club (an upscale sports bar owned by Jay-Z), and in true Broad City fashion, find their way into this elite establishment complete with hair whipping waitresses. Aniello uses some swag-filled slow-mo to show how joyful Abbi and Ilana are to be drinking and dancing at such an amazing place, and Glazer and Jacobson pull some crazy faces and dance moves while definitely showing that they don’t belong. However, when they interact together, Abbi and Ilana aren’t on the same page and act the exact opposite of the cold open where they were video chatting while in the bathroom. For example, Abbi is too busy laughing at Henri’s “texts that could be sexts” to consider the offer of a three way with Ilana and Blake Griffin, and Ilana ends up putting her phone on “Do Not Disturb” and isn’t there for Abbi when her place is robbed. There could be trouble in paradise.

But along the way, there are a lot of laughs, especially during Blake Griffin and Ilana’s “sex scene”. It opens with Ilana freaking out about how well-endowed Griffin is and then realizing that traditional sex won’t do, and this leads to a semi-montage of different roleplaying scenarios, including drinking tea in chairs, yoga poses, piggyback rides, and Griffin swaddling Ilana like a baby. As well as being an uproarious example of physical comedy, it also shows that fun, sexual activities don’t always have to involve penetration. Downs and Aniello definitely deserve kudos for their creativity and end Griffin and Ilana’s time together with a stealthily feminist discussion about how Griffin thinks that WNBA players are secretly more talented than him, and that he steals move from them all the time. This line is pretty relevant with the whole situation of the more successful (They’ve advanced past the quarterfinals.) US women’s national soccer team getting paid far less than the men’s team.

“B&B-NYC” gets a little sad and serious with Ilana and Abbi’s relationship dynamic even though it features crazy sex with an NBA player, slow-mo dancing, Pixar movies, and Lincoln (Hannibal Burress) using one of Blake Griffin’s Jordans as a man-purse. It’s just a tiny lie, but it will be interesting to see what happens with Abbi, Trey, and Ilana going forward as Broad City embraces small, shifting character arcs (Abbi and Trey previously connected and kissed at a party in “Rat Pack”.) instead of standalone picaresque stories like in the last two seasons.

Rating: 8.0

Broad City S3E06 “Philadelphia”


Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

Philadelphia” is the first Broad City episode to take place completely away from New York City as director Todd Biermann uses rapid cuts interspersed with Abbi and Ilana taking selfies of the other sleeping on the train to show their Amtrak and train journey from Penn Station to the Philly suburb Wayne, Pennsylvania. Yes, “Philadelphia” doesn’t take place in Philadelphia at all, but deals with the awkwardness of going back to your hometown as a young adult and seeing how it and you have changed. But this being Broad City, there are plenty of hijinks, including Ilana doing hardball negotiations in Mandarin Chinese over a commemorative Jon-Benet Ramsey Beanie Baby, a character named Syphilis, and a subplot about looking for Will Smith’s mom’s house because Wayne is technically west of Philadelphia that has an amazing punchline at the end of the episode.

The Jon-Benet Ramsey Beanie Baby subplot is yet another example of Ilana’s drive to make money in the most creative way possible as well as a bit of a satire on nostalgia culture and profiting on the death of celebrities. It also show that she has talent and energy, but doesn’t know how to harness it into her real job. Knowledge of Mandarin (Yiddish) Chinese, negotiation skills, and the exchange rate between the yen and the dollar could definitely come in handy on a C.V., but Ilana uses them to almost get $13,000 for a Beanie Baby. It’s pretty hilarious to see her constantly on the phone or taking shots of the plush toy while Abbi deals with the guilt of doing a dance benefit or inadvertently giving one of her former classmates the nickname “Syphilis” for the rest of his adult life after a field trip to colonial Williamsburg.

And the main throughline of “Philadelphia” is Abbi’s quest for redemption in her own way by returning the $900 that she raised for her classmate Alice, who was hit by a schoolbus on a Saturday. (So unlucky.) This money has been sitting in an envelope for God knows how long, and Abbi is on a trek across Wayne to find Alice and closure at the same time. But, like an P.I. with “expenses”, she and Ilana end up spending most of the money along the way on random things, like bowling shoes and liquor for teenagers. The teens don’t end up getting the booze or giving the girls a ride after a tense, silent Mexican standoff-like sequence where the police stare down the teens, then Abbi and Ilana, and run off. This scene is another footnote in an Infinite Jest length work about how visual comedy is all about editing. By the time she finally ends up at Alice’s (played by actress, model, future star of the Baywatch reboot) basically mansion, the money has dwindled down, and Abbi gets called an “asshole” for having the nerve to bring up her accident and lie about the money she raised. But even though she might not be the most tactful person, Abbi has an amazing friend named Ilana in her corner, who gives the Jon-Benet Ramsey Beanie Baby to Alice so Abbi can find “atonement” and not feel guilty any more. This is a big and kind of insane move on her account because Alice is a wealthy model with 10+ campaigns while Abbi and Ilana are barely scraping by. But the episode ends with a nice dance/cooking montage featuring Abbi, Ilana, and Mr. Abrams (played by the one and only Tony Danza) so it’s not all sad feelings and awkwardness.

Broad City continues its gold streak of guest stars with Tony Danza’s turn as Abbi’s divorced single dad and health enthusiast, Mr. Abrams. He’s the perfect mix of parental embarrassment and warmth with his anecdotes about Stevia and telling a young Abbi that he was divorcing her mom by the trash can so that she would stop playing in trash. Abbi still professes a liking for it, and this is a nice segue to the discovery of the Beanie Baby as well as her old dreadlocks from her jam band obsession day, which is a fun payoff from her Phish references in “Co-Op”. His elaborate handshake/dance/high five combination is truly an achievement in physical comedy from both Jacobson and Danza, and it’s a pity he doesn’t get more screen time.

In “Philadelphia”, writers/series creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer get down and dirty in exploring the complicated feelings of going back home and seeing your old friends and enemies success and failures in their careers and as human beings. It also continues Broad City Season 3’s trend of showing the consequences of Abbi and Ilana’s actions while not abandoning its weird and wonderful comedic take on life for twentysomethings.

Rating: 9.0




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