Lincoln and Jaime are back! Bevers is chubby again! Ilana poops herself! Finally, Broad City feels like its bawdy, irreverent self again during this delightful third episode of the season.
Not only is it funny as hell, but it also contains a level of maturity that we haven’t seen much of in previous seasons. There is actual character development happening here, between Abbi’s grappling to understand what, exactly, she wants out of a relationship (or if she even wants one at all), and Ilana’s moving on from her long-term non-monogamous relationship with Lincoln. The show is also exploring themes of money and class now that both characters are no longer struggling financially. As Abbi and Ilana get older and get more lucrative jobs, they must figure out how to operate as young women used to struggling—particularly liberal white women living in post-Trump America, where issues of class and racial inequality are at the forefront.
Even the cold open touches on class stratification: As Ilana and Abbi stroll past Gramercy Park, a private haven for the most privileged city dwellers, they discuss the question every New Yorker has asked herself: “What would I do if I had a key?” Abbi would read the paper and drink coffee; Ilana would grow weed (because “rich people never get caught”). It turns out that even a man who’s choking inside the notoriously exclusive park will not lend his key to Ilana and Abbi, who save his life by administering the Heimlich on the other side of the gate. You can imagine how he fares when he denies their request and then starts choking a second time—a funny and apt start to this cutting episode about financial inequality and hypocrisy.
The episode starts with both women in bed: Ilana and her roommate, Jaime (Arturo Castro), are snuggling in Ilana’s new king-sized bed, Ilana keeping them warm with her piles of hard-earned cash, her feet literally worked to the bone from her job at Sushi Mambo, while Abbi wakes up in her apartment with her new love interest, Mike (Omar Maskati), the paramedic from last week (who arrived at Soulstice after Trey broke his penis). When Mike goes to the bathroom, Bevers (John Gemberling) climbs into bed, interrogating Abbi on the “new man meat.” Although Bevers’ attempts at girl-talk are revolting to Abbi, she’s also too excited about Mike, who she refers to as her “new boyfriend,” to eject Bevers from her bed. Gemberling acting like one of the girls is adorable, creepy, and so funny. “I haven’t had my ears candled in a while,” he says, “but it sounded to me like he gave you multiples.”
Ilana with money is of course more ridiculous than ever, and Glazer capitalizes on the wonderfully exaggerated turn that her character takes. At a nail salon, a technician is appalled at the state of Ilana’s feet and fingernails, but Ilana wants what she wants—absurdly long fake tips. “Money is no object,” she laughs, handing the woman a $100 bill from her bra. She tells the nail tech that she read that New York Times “headline” about worker exploitation in nail salons and she wants her to have the money, and not the owner. “I am the owner,” the woman replies. Ilana grimaces, singing to herself, “White guilt, white guilt.” This is something that Broad City has always done well, and is doing even better now: pointing out the tone-deafness of the white upper middle class via Ilana, the most fake-woke, tone-deaf of them all. Now that she’s “rich,” Ilana believes she’s in even more of a place to give back to the less fortunate, who are often, in fact, not as unfortunate as she thinks. (Also: How many of us liberal millennial women read—or even skimmed—that Times article and then continued to get our nails done, just throwing an extra few dollars to our manicurists in hopes of absolving our own guilt? This show is so good at accurately reflecting and then critiquing the hypocrisy of our own demographic, and then turning that hypocrisy into joke after joke.)
On a roll, Ilana has her brother, Eliot (Glazer’s actual brother, Eliot Glazer) meet her at a sex shop to help her pick out a leotard for a party that night. The one she chooses is see-through, covering only her nipples, and she needs Elliott to zip it for her because of her claw-like acrylics. She doesn’t even know whose party it is: “I just clicked on it on Facebook, cause I need a freaking place to flaunt my wealth and my body.”
“Yeah, I definitely don’t want to go,” responds an exasperated Eliot.
Abbi, meanwhile, flaunts her new relationship status to everyone she knows—including her coworkers at Graphix, who are sick of hearing about Mike. She arrives at the party and calls to tell him she got there safe (“You hang up first,” she says in a baby voice; he does, immediately). Ilana rolls up in a stretch-limo, standing through the sun-roof with stacks of cash in her hand, wearing the leotard and a bright orange wig. Yes: This is exactly how Ilana would act if she had money.
Ilana is getting rich-girl wasted—chugging flutes of champagne, throwing empties across the room, slipping the servers bills, and sniffing cocaine from her fingernails. Abbi tells a guy who comes onto her that she’s seeing someone. Trying to text Mike, she doesn’t get service at the party (“Cell service has been terrible since we’ve become a fascist state,” says Ilana, followed by a Nazi salute), so she exits onto the fire escape where she finds a woman in her apartment crying about her marriage falling apart.
Inside, Ilana realizes that this is Damien’s party (Damien Lemon), who she knows through Lincoln (the inimitable Hannibal Burress), and at long last, we get the Ilana and Lincoln reunion we’ve been waiting for. But upon talking to him and meeting his new girlfriend, she immediately shits herself, due to the social anxiety of the situation and the “lethal combination of cheese, champagne, and cocaine.” In the bathroom, she tries calling Abbi, who doesn’t answer; Ilana is unable to, erm, handle the situation because of her fake nails. Lincoln knocks on the door: “Did you shit your leotard?” Left with no other choice, she lets him in.
Abbi gives the woman on the fire escape a pep talk about relationships, cheering her up based on lessons she’s learned from her own “relationship” with Mike. The woman asks her how long she and Mike have been together; “Six…long, long… days,” Abbi replies. The woman bursts into hysterics. “You’re literally sleeping with a stranger!” she says between laughs. “You’re such a fucking idiot.” She closes the window on Abbi, cackling, and shuts the curtains.
In typical Broad City fashion, Ilana’s non-kosher situation in the bathroom actually leads to a rather sweet and heartfelt scene between her and Lincoln. She tells him about her new job, claiming she’s much more mature than when he last saw her, followed by a truly disgusting moment in which she cleans her soiled behind with a bath towel. Meanwhile, she tells Lincoln that she’s happy for him in his new relationship; Lincoln confirms that he is happy, and he hopes Ilana is, too. It’s sad, because she clearly misses him, and clearly isn’t happy, but it’s a mark of Ilana’s maturity that she lets Lincoln go rather than try some crazy hijinks to get him back. Naturally, she still has a ways to go, but her wistfulness at the end of the scene conveys a certain self-awareness and desire for change that we haven’t seen much of from Ilana in the past.
After leaving the party, Abbi calls Mike, confronting him about the fact that she jumped into their “relationship” because Trey had told her she wasn’t a relationship person. Mike super doesn’t care—he admits that he’s been sleeping with other people during these past six days. The episode ends with Jaime and Abbi pulling Ilana’s tips off of her—turns out they not only have dollar bills on them, but also portraits of the Obamas. (“It’s like they’re leaving office all over again,” she shrieks in pain.) Both women have moments of recognition—Abbi admitting she isn’t quite sure what she wants in terms of a relationship, and Ilana realizing that having a lot of money is not going to solve her loneliness.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters continue to grow throughout the course of the season, especially in light of the political climate of 2017.
Top image credit: John Pack