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