This season especially, I find myself wondering how long it must take to write each episode of Broad City. There is very little dialogue that isn’t setting up a joke or delivering its awkwardly perfect punch line, but each episode has also tackled a relevant cultural topic, ranging from gender-subverting sexual trends to the social implications of technology.
When the series first started, I wouldn’t have predicted such overt commentary on the class divides of New York. Joan Didion famously characterized the city as being for the very rich or the very poor, and while Abbi and Ilana don’t fall into the latter, they are struggling to find their stride, money-wise. As personified last night by Kirk Steele (Man on a Mission, a Cum Mission), financial woes can lead one to some extreme, inadvertently hilarious measures. It would be hard to match the sheer power of “Knockoffs,” a.k.a. the pegging episode, but Broad City nearly gets there this week with the help of a gay child, two montages (!!!), and some very frosted tips.
Ilana’s masturbation rituals are so very Ilana, as evidenced in the episode’s opening: mint-green lipstick, a hoop earring that says “Latina,” a glittery bra, a picture of Abbi, and some average-dick-jerking porn. I hope that Ilana masturbating doesn’t mean Lincoln is out of the picture, but then again, one can assume her sexual appetite is too voracious for any man who holds down a job.
While perusing videos, Ilana happens upon a frosted-tip porn-star named Kirk Steele, a.k.a. Abbi’s boss Trey a decade earlier. As seen at the episode’s close, his porn style is about as sexually stimulating as his signature “bazinga”s: pool noodles, beach balls, and rafts make for excellent masturbatory props. He quotes The Mask while jerking it. (Keep in mind this is a decade after The Mask was released.) One nut exposed, Trey tells the camera that he’d like to be a stunt choreographer or “work with kids with MS” when he grows up. Paul W. Downs, who plays Trey, possesses the perfect blank-but-earnest expression to pull this off to maximum comedic effect. Kirk Steele forever. (Also, I’m glad to see that season two has made it a point to turn sidekick characters into full-blown personalities: Bevers last week, Trey this week and earlier this season. Abbi and Ilana are great, but a show cannot survive on two characters alone.)
Ilana heads off to babysit Oliver, an adorable child from one of those families that can afford to own a West Village townhouse. “There’s $300 on the counter, let Oliver hold it, he needs to learn,” his mother, played by Amy Ryan, advises Ilana before leaving to interview Desi Tutu. Instead they head to a coffee shop to tell Abbi about a “job opportunity, amber alert, emergency,” i.e. Trey’s porn-star past. Besides, it’s good for Oliver to see how regular folks live. “If I don’t do something, he could turn into another useless, rich, old white man,” Ilana tells Abbi. Preach.
Abbi uses Kirk Steele against Trey immediately, refusing to clean up a bloody shit spill in the spin studio and demanding to teach the 12:30 kickass kettlebell class. It’s nice to see Abbi not taking shit from Trey, even if it’s in a passive-aggressive way. They discuss Kirk in Abbi’s office, a.k.a. the maintenance room, where she keeps her tweezers and tweezing mirror.
Within seconds of opening the class, Abbi throws the kettlebell into the mirror and smashes it. Trey says that the owners can’t find out, so instead, he and Abbi must come up with $1,400 to replace the mirror covertly that night. Desperate and broke, Abbi goes home to snort rye chips from Chex Mix until she figures out a way to make $700 that doesn’t involve going to Kirk Steele measures (this is Montage No. 1). This means selling her art and her clothes. The latter goes better.
Abbi heads to Beacon’s Closet, a popular NYC thrift chainlet, where the girls encounter a rude trendbot working the consignment counter. I loved this scene because this is exactly how employees at these kinds of stores act: as if you are inconveniencing them immensely by trying to sell them your clothes for mere pennies. Abbi sells her dead aunt’s apothecary bag and makes $20. Oliver buys a leather-daddy hat for $35 and calls it a bargain. The plot setup is obvious: The rich (Oliver) should give to the poor (Abbi and Ilana). They make their way back to Oliver’s townhouse, where the student becomes the master. Lying, he tells his mother that he and Ilana donated clothes to the poor, which she calls “funky.” He suggests that Ilana could donate all those last-season designer duds his mom doesn’t want to charity. Rich Mom usually brings those clothes to her stable to keep the horses warm, but since poor people might get even colder than horses, she agrees. Yas, queen.
In Montage No. 2, Abbi and Ilana take their riches of fur and Prada back to the Greenpoint Beacon’s Closet, where they go full Pretty Woman. “Remember me? BIG mistake.” They make $900, Abbi buys back her aunt’s bag, and the mirror gets replaced. Poor Trey had to go full Kirk Steele to make his $700. I wonder if he wears a wig-visor combo …
“Oliver, you’re a child. Give her a full-body hug and mean it.” —Ilana to Oliver, re: Abbi
“The four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, Rihanna.” —Ilana’s motto
“Sell mushroom chocolate? No, I can’t do that, can’t get back in the game, just got my record expunged. Ask my parents for money? No, they think I’m a successful artist.” —Abbi, plotting her hustle
“Abbi, Ilana’s girlfriend, even though they can’t be together right now, but they will be someday.” —Oliver (This joke never stops being funny, but I have to wonder for real if Ilana and Abbi will ever do it.)
“Of course shrimp cocktail is Ron Howard’s favorite food, he probably has it three, four times a week, that fucking pussy.” —Random street asshole
“He’s from Jersey so I put him with a tomato ’cause I was like, ‘This is a marriage that works.’” —Ilana on Bruce Springsteen’s favorite food, the premise of her “art”
Ilana: “Why don’t you suck my dick?”
Street asshole: “I been there, sweetie.”
Ilana: “To my dick?”
Street asshole: “Yeaaah.”
(I watched this scene roughly six times and fell off my couch half of those times. Jimmy Palumbo, an all-time “that guy!” on TV, played it off so perfectly.)