Broad City Recap: The One With Hillary Clinton

Broad City

Season 3 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating *****
Ilana Glazer, Hillary Clinton, Abbi Jacobson. Photo: Comedy Central

By the time this recap is published, I’m sure a flurry of thinkpieces will already be available. Some will criticize Hillary Clinton’s choice to appear on Broad City, some will laud it. Others might even wonder how the Abbi/Ilana endorsement will affect Hillary’s appeal to young women. And I’ll bet dollars-to-donuts at least one comedy outlet is already working on a “What If Bernie Sanders Were on Broad City” parody. (And if they’re not, you guys can have that one for free.)

Whatever your opinion of Clinton and her appearance in “2016,” you’ll likely find an article out there that reaffirms your beliefs, so let’s treat this like a totally normal episode of television that doesn’t include a cameo by the future leader of the United States.

Yes, I’m talking about Alan Alda.

We open with Ilana and Abbi at major crossroads of their twenties. Ilana, having been fired from Deals Deals Deals, is in desperate need of a new job, while Abbi has to renew her driver’s license for the first time. Abbi’s never had a good professional picture taken of herself, but she’s determined that her new license photo will be the first. So, she heads to the hair salon and Ilana goes out on the job hunt.

After getting to know her hairdresser by taking him on a journey through professional photos past — including the time she was followed around Astoria by a bee for thirty days and it found its way into her passport photo — Abbi drops that she’ll be using a Deals Deals Deals coupon to pay for the service, at which point the hairdresser lops off half of her hair and throws out her neck during a particularly rough blowout.

Post-haircut, Abbi arrives at the DMV unable to pick her head up off her shoulder, and is dismayed to find that it looks and feels a bit like the Eastern Bloc (the Cold Warera communist countries, not the New York City gay bar). After what feels like a lifetime waiting, fighting for food, and watching loved ones torn asunder by the injustice of the DMV, Abbi is finally up next. When it comes time to take her picture, she tries to move her neck … and throws up everywhere.

Ilana, meanwhile, is hustling for tips as a subway performer until she runs into Eliot, who has been hiding her unemployment from their mom. He pressures her to go find a real job, so she returns to the temp agency where she worked in season one — you know, the one that’s run by Linda Lodi, that hot mess of a woman played by Rachel Dratch. Ilana gives Linda some fairly good life coaching, so she finds her a temp position as a bike messenger.

Abbi goes to see her chiropractor, Dr. Heller, played by America’s adorable great-uncle Alan Alda. Not only does Dr. Heller adjust Abbi’s neck, he also tells her that you can make DMV appointments online, and he fixes her awful haircut. Have I mentioned how great Alan Alda is? He’s great.

As Abbi heads back to the DMV, Ilana is delighted to realize she’s delivering a package to Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters. Apparently forgetting that she’s just started another job, Ilana applies for a job cold-calling potential Clinton voters, and almost immediately finds herself in a debriefing meeting lead by Cynthia Nixon. (This season is really killing it on the guest-star front.) There’s a great joke about the annoying questions cold-callers inevitably face about Clinton and her campaign, and it does a great job poking fun at the sexist rhetoric that often creeps its way into political discourse.

While Ilana makes cold calls with rapidly deteriorating levels of professionalism, Abbi discovers that there is a separate DMV for people who made their appointments ahead of time, and it’s basically Shangri-La. It’s got models, chocolate fountains, harp players, and pre-photo makeup and hair styling. Abbi gets her photo taken AND gets a free massage. I like when the show crosses the line from the absurd to the surreal, and all of the DMV stuff is played exceptionally well. Also, I had no idea making appointments for the DMV was even a thing until this episode. Thank you, Broad City!

Ilana excitedly calls Eliot to tell him that she’s finally got a paying job working for the Clinton campaign, but her dreams are quickly dashed when she learns that she isn’t getting paid — this is a volunteer job. Ilana can’t afford to be a full-time volunteer, so she packs up her desk. Abbi comes by to see the office before Ilana leaves, and that’s when Hillary Clinton comes strolling in.

Once again, it’s not worth it to get into the overt politicking of a presidential candidate’s appearance on a show that targets such a coveted demographic. I do think Clinton’s cameo was cute, and I liked that we got some closure regarding the gender of that inflatable arm-waving thingy. Watching Abbi and Ilana lose their shit is never not funny, and their excited noisemaking as HRC enters the room was a delight. It’s hardly worth describing the whole thing, since I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the whole thing in GIF form.

Here’s the important thing: “2016” is a strong, funny episode. Although the segue from Ilana’s unemployment crisis to Clinton HQ is a little sudden as far as story turns go, I liked how this episode escalated so much, so quickly. I’ll be interested to see if other critics think the heavy-handedness of “2016” outweighed its comedic merit, but I was all-around impressed.

Other Notes:

  • Abbi and Ilana’s super-casual celebratory kiss is ridiculously adorable.
  • Who knew that Ilana’s a good tap dancer? Between this and her really nice singing voice, somebody better cast her in a musical.
  • Loving the runner of Ilana attaching wigs to her bike helmet. Also, she pulls off being a blonde really well.  
  • As she started her bike-messenger job, were those handheld shots from Ilana’s point of view a nod to Portlandia?
  • Eliot watches Trey’s porn videos — and yes, he is humping two beach balls.
  • When an excited Abbi informed Clinton, “I pegged,” it made me laugh out loud.

Broad City Recap: The One With Hillary Clinton