Broad City, Season 2, Episode 2, “Mochalatta Chills”
Written by Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer
Directed by Michael Bleiden
Airs Wednesdays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central
As many have already noted, 2015 (much like the previous year, really) looks to be the year of the half-hour comedy. As television becomes ever more saturated, it appears that the best work—comedic or dramatic—is happening in half-hour chunks. Transparent season one had more emotionally resonant, dramatic moments than any current drama series, but it’s typically classified as a comedy mostly because of the episodes’ 30-minute runtime. The fact is that television’s most remarkable work is being done in this format, and Broad City is certainly no exception.
In that spirit, let’s talk about the direction of the show, which is always impressive, but rarely discussed. Take several examples from this episode: How about Abbi’s glorious naked dance and lipsync to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” after she realizes Bevers is gone and she’s alone in her apartment? This is, first and foremost, a triumphant sequence that pretty much everyone can relate to. On top of that, however, it is beautifully directed so that it looks like a sun-glazed music video, following Abbi as she dances around with all the energy that the scene demands. Take, too, the long-take tracking shot of Abbi and Trey that leads them through the gym without cutting or breaking a sweat, agile and precise. Michael Bleiden directs with a fire this episode, but truly it is emblematic of excellent aspects of the show that rarely get acknowledged.
Speaking of Abbi dancing because of an absent Bevers, the A story here is a bit of a downer once we realize that we’re going to be spending a bulk of our time with Bevers. Inspired by Abbi’s pep talk, he’s decided to join her gym and her boss, Trey, has tasked her with training him. It’s an opportunity for her, a cleaner, but dear God, it’s Bevers. Plenty of shows have a Bevers: a secondary character who mostly exists for quick comic relief, a place to go for easy gross-out humour in ways that kill when they are brief and scattered. Inevitably, however, writers try to have these characters anchor a full story and the episode falls apart. Jacobson and Glazer do their best with the plot, but Bevers has never been a full character and no characterization is added here, just more cringe comedy, extended to episode length (I all but checked out of this storyline as soon as I saw that bed sore).
That said, this plot never fully crumbles because it is also anchored by Abbi’s ambition. Trey may be obnoxious, but she wants to be a trainer and must struggle with finally having her chance with Bevers. She gets into it, yelling and motivating, only to push him too far and have her relegated back to just cleaning. Regardless, that spark is there, and it elevates a storyline that would have just been depressing otherwise.
Ilana, meanwhile, spends the episode finding out that interns are like slaves. The concept is rather facile for Broad City, but it works because of what Glazer brings to her performance. After her boss pleads with her to actually work lest she finally be let go, she buckles down and hires an ethnically-diverse group of interns to do her work for her and make her money. This is essentially a new version of Ilana, surprisingly effective in her managerial role, confident if a little too sexually involved (though any nod to bisexuality on a popular TV series is welcome). The storyline is too on the nose, however, by the time Abbi is explaining white power to her (that outfit is killing it, though), the unnamed black intern is on the ground singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, and Ilana is setting them free, exclaiming, “You will get your reparations!”. It would land better if it wasn’t so, well, easy. The fact that the episode is still consistently enjoyable, hilarious, and intoxicating is a testament, then, to the power Jacobson and Glazer have over us. Even on an off week, the thematic ambition sticks with you.
Bed, Bath and Beyonds
- Trey donated $14,000 to Zach Braff’s kickstarter, but his name was misspelled in the credits and he didn’t get his set visit. Still, though. “It was worth every penny.”
- Speaking of Trey, this beautiful website exists. (Thanks, Justine!)
- Ilana’s boss, played by Chris Gethard, has perhaps the episode’s funniest moment as he tries to pick out which little girl, part of a girl gang, harassed him. “You gender neutral as fuck, lookin like Albert Nobbs…”
- “Yeah, that’s a woman’s fart.”
- “It’s still a mess down in Haiti!” “I know it is…terrible…”
- “I’m going to see you give birth?” “Bitch, who else would be my focal point?”