Over the television year, not only do specific shows and …
It has been an extremely strong season of Broad City, and though this is a somewhat strange episode to use as a finale, it ultimately feels like an inspired choice. We have no sense of closure with Ilana and Lincoln’s relationship, which I had been anticipating. No arc is particularly remarked upon or addressed. It is essentially just an episode of Abbi and Ilana walking down the street in New York City as they decide what to do for Ilana’s 23rd birthday. It feels as defiant as the beautiful moment before the title card when a man walks by and tells them to smile, so they turn around and force a fake smile with their middle fingers.
As practically every one of these reviews mentions, the power of Broad City comes from the power of the bond between Abbi and Ilana. Their friendship is closer than most, stronger and more understanding and affectionate. It’s the kind of thing we should strive to achieve in our own lives. It’s strange, then, that one of the series’ best episodes is one where they replace each other with equally glorious guest stars.
Sometimes, Broad City doesn’t try to do anything more than be the funniest show on television, and it is at these moments when it becomes that and more. Wearing her dazzling Froot Loop pants, Ilana is responsible for a child this week. Abbi is trying to sell her artist’s rendering of Whoopi Goldberg’s favourite food (spaghetti). And Trey is a former pornstar. As wonderful guest star Amy Ryan says, “How very funky.
Broad City has never been overly concerned with plot serialization. Most of the time, you can jump in on any episode and be able to understand everything that’s going on. There are certain constants – the undying love between Abbi and Ilana, the amicable relationship between Ilana and Lincoln. The problem with this, even within an absurdist comedy such as this, is that the result can become stasis. If nothing really changes, it can be difficult to find new stories to tell, and your audience will get bored. Broad City is learning this deep into its second season, a place many shows in the past have felt the same growing pains. There have been hints at certain elements that are presented here, but “Citizen Ship” feels like a momentous episode for Ilana and Lincoln in particular.
It is a common worry that we have become too dependant on the Internet and on our phones. We spend so much time plugged into the Matrix, as Ilana puts it, that we can’t handle any time separated from it. We can forcibly remove ourselves from its hold over us, but we inevitably begin to crave it and, in some ways, require it. We are helpless without it, and if this episode proves anything, it’s the the truth of that statement, at least for Abbi and Ilana.
Alter egos for characters in comedy television series is nothing new. Indeed, Abbi’s Val is a similar kind of double life persona as Ron Swanson’s Duke Silver on Parks and Recreation. There’s something special about Val, though. Maybe it’s because, as has been pointed out by many others online, that crazy lady back in the season premiere screeching, “VAL!”, on the subway wasn’t so nuts after all. Maybe it’s because it allows Abbi Jacobson to break out a ridiculous Prohibition-era accent, strutting around like an old-timey diva and swallowing diamonds with aplomb.
There’s something beautiful happening with Abbi on this season of Broad City. In season one, Abbi was the straight woman to Ilana’s antics, being dragged along on her escapades and exposed to things she’d never seen before. By the end of the season, some of that had changed, but there’s something altogether different happening now. Four episodes into the second season and Abbi is now experiencing sex acts that Ilana has only dreamed of. Now that’s character development.
Here’s some personal context: I spent most of my day before watching this episode in a health clinic, dealing with strep throat, waiting, waiting, waiting. It goes without saying that it was a less-than-ideal way to spend my day. I turned on “Wisdom Teeth”, and suddenly all was right in the world. The long day faded away. The pain in my throat faded away. It was almost as if I was high on four Vicodin and some strong weed.