Tag Archives: Lucia Aniello

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.

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 S308 Burning Bridges

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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

AbbiandTreyPreSex

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

TV Review: Broad City S3E03 “Game Over”

AbbiandTrey

Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

In this week’s Broad City episode titled “Game Over”, writers (and stars) Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson turns their attention to a long running plot thread, which is how the hell has Ilana not lost her job at Deals Deals Deals. (A Groupon/LivingSocial knockoff.) It also follows Abbi’s first days as a trainer as she participates in the Soulstice Games and takes them way too seriously. Ilana  finally loses her job once an investor (played with a nice blend of professionalism and silliness from Vanessa Williams) has the bright idea to give her the company’s flagging Twitter once Ilana spills out a string of early 2000s Internet minutia and is simultaneously sexually attracted to and inspired by her pant suit outfit that she got on sale for 70% from TJ Maxx. (Add “Maxxinista” to a long list of Ilana nicknames.) Of course, this “promotion” goes terribly as Ilana’s lack of a filter doesn’t work well with a corporate Twitter account, and she has to leave the company. But her firing does give director Lucia Aniello a chance to pay homage to the closing song of Sister Act 2 in a cleverly choreographed dance number to “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” complete with colorful dissolve cuts and cameo from Whoopi Goldberg herself in character as Sister Clarence.

“Game Over” lets Ilana finally get some consequences for her horrible job performance at Deals Deals Deals while still being funny and not painting her former boss Derek (played meekly by Chris Gethard) and co-workers as one note villains. Even the man bun sporting “White Guy #7” and “Adult Braces” (formerly “Only Black Guy”) get a moment in the sun during the musical number that immediately starts once Ilana exits the building. Glazer’s performance as Ilana has a raw comic energy, and she sells the most outlandish outfits, including a puppy hoodie paired with red markers on her midriff to look like she’s wearing a human hoodie, but this energy can have a negative effect on the people around her, especially her deskmate Nicole, who is the queen of the shifty reaction glance.

doghoodie

Awesome dance moves aside, the real highlight of “Game Over” is the extra shading given to Abbi’s character when she reveals an uber fierce competitive side in her first Soulstice Games as a trainer. (Before this, we get to see her in action teaching skeevy old men water aerobics.) As a more introverted artist (with an occasional crazy side), Abbi has struggled to fit in the fitness obsessive culture of Soulstice where completely naked trainers immediately fall to the floor when another trainer spills a bottle full of supplements. After this, Abbi is totally cool with Trey (played by Paul W. Downs) showing her the private changing room to avoid the steroid infused fitness trainer butts.

However, she’s a completely different person once the Soulstice Games start with her non-stop trash talk towards both the laconic, beleaguered referee and her fellow employees. Ilana has to take one of her many breaks from work to give her “wife” a neck massage and remind her about the vanilla bean scented candles at Yankee Candle to let her cool down. This slow, meditative moments only has an effect for so long as Abbi is back into the fray with Aniello using a little boxing movie influenced slow-mo to show her whacking a fellow trainer with a pugil stick after one punching her. But, instead of going the obvious route and getting Abbi demoted back to cleaner of pube hairs, her fellow trainers are kind of impressed by her competitive spirit and start to treat her like one of them. Trey even gives her some free advice about steroids as Downs continues to making him an amusing supporting character with his sunny, irony free delivery of lines about everything from locker decorations to public nudity.

Glazer, Jacobson, and Aniello do an excellent job of giving the seemingly opposite plots of a field day for adults and Ilana destroying her career prospects a shared through-line of taking things too far.  Some intense, outrageous comedy from Jacobson channeling a feral berserker rage through Abbi with a side of a status quo shift in Ilana’s employment makes “Game Over” a fun, important, and slightly embarrassing episode of Broad City. Glazer definitely has a knack for cringe comedy, especially when she tries to proposition Vanessa Williams’ character, and only then realizes her days at Deals Deals Deals are done.

Rating: 8.6

 

 

TV Review: Broad City S3E02 Co-Op

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Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

In “Co-Op”, writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs put a Broad City twist on a comedy trope as old as Plautus: mistaken identity. For an entire episode, Abbi is Ilana, and Ilana is Abbi. They swap identities because Ilana still wants to be able to use her Co-Op card to buy tasty produce, but hasn’t  It is a perfect opportunity for Abbi Jacobson to do an amazing caricature of Ilana Glazer’s perfomance as Ilana

However, Ilana doesn’t commit to the character at all spending most of the episode freaking out about going to her family doctor Angela (played by stand-up comic Judy Gold) in Long Island and completely geeking out about Lincoln (Hannibal Burress) having sex with another girl. Because poly relationships are completely normal, and Glazer demonstrates this through some uproarious physical comedy that in most sitcoms would be met with angry, melodramatic Grey’s Anatomy style relationship yelling. But this is Broad City, and it’s cool to be in a sexual relationship with multiple people as long as everyone consents. (As Lincoln reminds the rambunctious Ilana when she wants to “trick” his lady friend into having a threesome.) “Co-Op” is a great episode of TV to teach friends and family members about being poly, especially if they ask you if you’re Mormon. (Insert sighing noise.)

Like “Two Chainz”, “Co-Op” most striking visuals from director Ryan McFaul come in the cold open that starts as a commonplace conversation about butts and then swerves into a Muppet Babies version of the street harassment that Ilana and Abbi had to deal with earlier in the show at the basketball court. Abbi tells the rude, pre-pubesecent boys that the only time they’ll touch her boobs is when she’s dunking on them , and the streetball game begins. And this is when things get trippy with a level of slow-mo that would make the Wachowskis and Zack Snyder lose both lunch, breakfast, and their midnight snack to show off Abbi and Ilana’s “sick moves”, including Ilana kissing and twerking on the rim. Of course, they dominate because they’re playing little kids, and McFaul quickly cuts from NBA Jam level of epicness to stark reality with crying kids, who can’t handle TV-MA rated trash talk. Even though the cold open has nothing to with the episode’s plot, it’s an opportunity for McFaul to cut loose and for Jacobson and Glazer to show off their background in sketch comedy.

But it’s not like the other scenes in “Co-Op” are lacking in visual panache, like the extreme close-ups of Abbi as she tries to get into the role of Ilana in both her looks (crop top, pigtails, blingy earrings), speaking patterns (Lots of “yas” and “queen”), and facial expressions. She nails rehearsal, but the real thing is much more difficult with Abbi overplaying Ilana so much that her words are incomprehensible. (Jacobson’s delivery of “queen” as “quayn” to her fellow co-op worker is the funniest part of the episode.) Aniello and Downs even through a romantic wrench in Abbi’s path in the form of Phish fanatic and true believer in the co-op lifestyle, Craig, who is interested in this “Abbi” that “Ilana” keeps mentioning. (He also sports a man bun and can pull off tank tops.) And like a vegan homme fatale (Pardon my French), Craig causes Abbi to blow her cover and speak and act like herself while overselling the Ilana act way too much culminating in twerking.

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Unfortunately, Craig and Abbi don’t work out due to Craig’s inability to compromise. He cares more about following the rules of the co-op ruled over by Lori (played by Academy Award winner Melissa Leo in time for Oscar Week), the super fertile and super vegan dictator of all natural and organic food in the five boroughs. Abbi cares more about sticking up for her best friend even if it means losing access to tasty food and relegated to “bodega veggies”. It serves to show you can have all the same interests as someone, but not be compatible as romantic partners or even friends. Human beings are deeper than their lists of top ten movies, albums, books, or comics, and successful relationships have this weird, spark of chemistry that goes beyond matching likes and dislikes. So, Abbi might be an enormous fan of Phish while Ilana doesn’t know a single lyrics, but they are incredible because they have shared experiences and just plain click. And the frank discussion of polysexuality along with Abbi rejecting Craig in favor of Ilana might hint and possible romantic developments in the future for the pair.

“Co-Op” proves the old adage that tropes aren’t bad and has Abbi Jacobson give an excellent performance as Abbi pretending to be Ilana while Ilana Glazer shows a new side of Ilana as she loses her usual cool and freaks out about going to the doctor. And along the way, there is a positive portrayal of polysexuality and some neat use of slow-mo, extreme close-ups, and enclosed spaces, like the Co-op and especially Lori’s office, from director Ryan McFaul.

Score: 9.3

TV Review: Broad City S3E01 Two Chainz

BroadCity301

Broad City airs at 10 PM EST on Comedy Central.

In its season three premiere, Broad City continues to put the insane in the mundane while also making port a johns and truck hitches funny again  in one deftly executed edit. “Two Chainz” follows Ilana and Abbi as they look for a public restroom and get ready for a gallery show featuring Abbi’s old roommate Maxanne (Emily Meade), who looks like a rejected entry for one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens. Writers Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs show why Broad City is TV’s best hangout TV show while Abbi Jacobson brings the physical comedy and Ilana continues to making everything sexual even as the credits literally roll across the screen as Abbi and Ilana. (To avoid confusion, I’ll be referring to the actresses as Jacobson and Glazer and the characters as Abbi and Ilana. This is what happens when you name your main characters as yourself.) They make the plot and surrounding characters almost irrelevant, except for Hannibal Burress’ Lincoln, who continues to bring one-liners, warmth, and even a little spontaneity in this episode as his “graduation” has nothing do with his steady day job as a dentist.

Broad City’s comedy doesn’t just come from the dialogue and jokes written by Aniello and Downs; a lot of it comes from the set design, editing, and even costuming. The two minute cold open of Ilana and Abbi doing things in the bathroom (Whoa, that came out wrong.) is shot in a split screen style that reminded me of some of Edgar Wright’s work. It is packed with call-backs to the previous seasons, like Abbi with a Bed Bath and Beyond bag and Ilana falling asleep on the toilet after smoking weed, and all kinds of quick gags and character moments that warrants a rewatch. The scene also reintroduces us to Ilana’s amazing wardrobe choices opening with “Female Body Inspector” hinting at her bisexuality to the titular “chain” that is attached to her the entire episode and instant fodder for hilarity because she forgot the basic rule of “phones, key wallet”. Her “Perv” snapback is fantastic too. (Lincoln quips about her being an extra in a DMX music video.)

“Two Chainz” also has a pair of almost sketch-like parodies about the rabidness of shoppers during blowout sales and the art community in general. The first is fairly quick and non-verbal with cuts of various shoppers beating up each other at a 90% off warehouse sale, which Abbi braves to find a public bathroom and get an outfit for the gallery show. It is topped off by a wonderful line, “This is a pop up bitches” and a quick edit to a completely bare store reminding me of those random Halloween stores that sneak into strip malls every September, but more fashion forward. The art parody is more developed if a little predictable stab at the pretentious of the art scene. But the scene lands thanks to the vapid dialogue of Maxanne (“So surreal. So real. At the same time so surreal. At the same time so real.”) and the slapstick skills of Jacobson as she wipes off blue ink from Maxanne’s painting of a fingerprint that took two and a half years to complete while the gallery screams at her. This is also a nice punchline to the running gag of the security tag that Abbi has been trying to take off herself just like Ilana has been trying to take off her chain.

An interesting development in Broad City Season 3 is that Ilana is really amping up her romantic interest in Abbi. It’s all played for laughs for now (It kind of reminds me of the dynamic Spider-Man and Deadpool have in the Spider-Man/Deadpool comic, but Ilana and Abbi have an actual wacky, yet vibrant friendship.), but both Abbi and Ilana let things slip about their possibly less than platonic relationship. Abbi says that Ilana is her girlfriend at the pop up store, and Ilana proposes after Abbi rescues her from being hitched to a truck driven by a porno watching creep. Even if these comes to nothing, Aniello doesn’t shy away from showing Ilana’s bisexuality (and polysexuality) as she does sexy things with both Lincoln and various women in the opening sequence.

BisexualIlana

One reason I find Broad City so fun and refreshing is that unlike some other show on HBO by a supposed “auteur” showrunner, it’s not interested in making any sweeping statements about being in your twenties, the nature of art, or such navel gazing bullshit. It’s just about two friends trying to makes ends meet and have a good time in New York while having some excellent “stealth feminism” moments, like a stab at the lack of women’s restrooms in a major world city (Marvel Comics’ offices had this problem too.) or Abbi giving a cat-caller a piece of her mind. And “Two Chainz” is a triumphant return for the most fun friendship on TV with a side of hijinks.

Score: 9.1