This week is all about witches: about Tr*mp being afraid of them, and about the women of the world reclaiming their power in spite of him. While the thesis is laudable, the episode itself is a bit of a head-scratcher, using odd, forced plot points to hodge-podge together a strange, Halloween-timed episode. As my high school field hockey coach would say: “Good idea, bad execution.”
It’s the dead of winter in Broad City world, and Abbi’s apartment is freezing because her landlord refuses to let tenants control the heat (what New Yorker can’t relate?). Abbi’s still unemployed, and she can’t afford the space heater she wants: the Hot Dream Q20X (it’s the one that Drew Barrymore uses). While expressing her woes to Ilana, her friend notices a single gray strand in Abbi’s hair. To Abbi, a gray hair is the worst fate, representing time passing her by before she has achieved any of her goals. But to Ilana, gray hairs represent power, sexuality, and most importantly, the fact that Abbi is becoming a witch.
“Witches aren’t real,” Abbi tells Ilana and Bevers, who has appeared in her bedroom in his underwear. The two of them burst into laughter.
“If witches aren’t real,” Ilana says. “Who makes all the kombucha? And where do scarves come from?”
Abbi can’t control the grays in her hair, but at least she can try to make some money to buy herself a space heater, and she resolves that day to start selling her art, beginning with taking the 250 handmade Christmas cards that were meant for her camp friends and selling them outside of the Met instead. Abbi asks Ilana for her help setting up, but Ilana cites what are clearly bogus plans: a pedicure with her dad and ice-skating with her mom. “I just need to make sure I find the time for a powerful genital sneeze, or four,” Ilana adds, launching into an odd, out-of-control rant about her being a “cum queen” who needs to jerk off all the time.
“Am I allowed to behave that way?” Bevers asks, one of the only funny lines of the episode.
Up at the Met, Abbi sets up her Christmas card stand among the other ladies selling their wares, including 70-something Margo (the legendary Jane Curtin), who has the same thermos, jacket, and cart as Abbi. Margo is making out like a bandit with her crafts, while Abbi has no luck with her cards. Margo—who shows up at Abbi’s side instantaneously, the way only a witch can—offers Abbi a puff of her “wand” (a.k.a vape pen) and offers Abbi a scarf, which she stuffs inside the back of Abbi’s jacket (“Most people don’t realize this, but you lose most of your body heat from your upper wing area”). Margo’s powers work—Abbi is instantly warmer, even though it now looks like she has a hunchback.
Ilana’s plans were not to hang out with her family, of course. Instead, it turns out she has an appointment with a sex therapist (Marcella Lowery, whose voice I immediately recognized because she plays the benevolent authority figure in not one but two important 1990s television shows, Ghostwriter and City Guys). Ilana and the therapist, Betty, sit on floor pillows in the woman’s apartment, while Ilana confides that she actually hasn’t orgasmed in months. They put a hand mirror up to Ilana’s vulva, which Betty asks her to name (Ilana chooses “Abbi,” of course). Betty asks Ilana to talk to “Abbi,” and in time, Ilana shares that her increased dosage of antidepressants has made it harder for her to have orgasms, and that she’s just been feeling more anxious and depressed, generally. And there’s a reason for that: Tr*mp.
The show then launches into a truly vile and disturbing montage of Tr*mp and his supporters, USA chants, and Tr*mp saying “grab ‘em by the pussy” over and over again. Ilana comes to the realization she hasn’t had an orgasm since November 8. The therapist says that she’s not alone; orgasms have been down 140% since Tr*mp was elected (“I’m technically the only small business owner that that human skin tag has ever helped.”)
Back uptown, a glamorous young woman dressed in all white (Greta Lee) walks up to Abbi’s stand. The woman is interested in Abbi’s art; Abbi shares that she went to a small art school called MICA, which it turns out the woman’s daughter also attends. Abbi is shocked that this is even possible: “Sorry but, how old are you?” “I’m 51,” the woman says, proudly (Greta Lee is 35 IRL). She’s a dermatologist, and keeps herself young with all sorts of treatments (including “bat feces”). After buying five stacks of cards, the dermatologist gives Abbi her business card, if she’s ever “in the mood to freshen up.” Abbi thinks she looks just fine. Then, Jeremy appears—her old neighbor and flame, the guy who wanted her to peg him—on a walk with his beautiful partner and their son outside of the Met (“He adopted us”). In a mortifying moment, he gives her $100 for all of her remaining cards (he loves to “help a struggling artist”). Feeling old and left behind, Abbi decides it might be time to visit that dermatologist after all.
Ilana is meanwhile trying with no avail to make herself orgasm. With Betty’s help, she tries thinking of all the things that turn her on, but keeps getting stopped up by thoughts of the electoral college, Mike Pence, and tiny hands. Finally Betty gets her to tune those thoughts out, and the thing that finally makes her come is images of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a montage of dozens of other powerful, inspiring women, including Dolly Parton, Malala, Oprah, Beyoncé, and Nicki Minaj.
Abbi shows up at the dermatologist’s office to spend the money she made from her Christmas cards on Botox. The doctor administers the first injection while explaining to Abbi: “It’s hard to be beautiful these days. It is my full-time job, but for most other women, it’s their second full-time job, where you’re losing money.” After talking to the doctor, and looking around the room at before-and-after photos of women (some in which they are actually “made whiter”), Abbi decides she’s made a mistake—even if that means walking out of the office with only one side of her face Botoxed.
The two girls meet up at the end of their day in front of the Met. Abbi’s table is gone—Margo was supposed to look after it for her. Then a note falls from the sky: “Dear Young Abbi: At the start of the winter solstice tonight, come into the thicket of the park. You’ll know when you’ve arrived.” As they walk to the park, Ilana tells Abbi about her crazy day, explaining that she tapped into the “ferocious female current that is constantly zip-zap-zopping around the universe.”
“I saw shit,” Ilana says. “Witches who run the world. And witches aren’t monsters, they’re just women! They’re fucking women who come and giggle and play in the night, and that’s why everyone wants to set them on fire, cause they’re so fucking jealous.”
They enter the park at night to find a group of women laughing and dancing around a fire, banging drums and shaking tambourines, “like The Crucible and The Witches of Eastwick and Hillary Clinton getting caught in the woods.” Betty is there, of course, as is Margo, and Abbi and Ilana join in. Abbi leaves briefly to find the dermatologist, and brings her back to the solstice ritual. The episode ends with all of the women howling at the moon together.
The impetus to make a Halloween-time episode about witches makes sense—especially because witches are very au courant. But, just like with last week’s depression-themed episode, this one seems to hit us over the head with the lesson—and the lesson is, in fact, not all that profound. That women are powerful? That men are trying to take us down because of our power? Chances are most people watching Broad City already know that. While I appreciate that Glazer and Jacobson are again and again centering women’s stories, nuance has never been their greatest strength.
Photos courtesy of Comedy Central