Blending psychedelic animation with insightful character beats, “Mushrooms” serves up the best of Broad City without ever feeling like a retread of the show’s greatest hits. I really love it when Broad City does something that only it could ever do. Recreational drug use, music, meditations on the power of women and best friendship, pegging, and the perils of responsibility: If it’s something you’ve loved from the past few seasons of Broad City, it makes a cameo in “Mushrooms.”
Abbi and Ilana are making up a yogurt and shrooms concoction in hopes of creating the perfect trip. As the effects kick in, the girls and the world around them become animated, and we’re invited into their colorful high. As they wander the city in an animated dreamscape, they wax poetic on topics like:
• Babies! As Ilana puts it, “A person pussy-poops another person.” The fact that people can have babies and produce milk to make them grow blows Abbi and Ilana’s minds, and, frankly, it should blow all of our minds at all times. It’s awesome. They imagine how much love moms must have and they marvel at what good moms they’ll be.
• Bras for butts! Ilana marvels at Abbi’s “powerful ass,” which contains literal galaxies in her trip.
• Terror! They arrive at a tunnel, which Ilana declares to be an intense “microcosm” of the whole trip. As they step inside, they visualize falling down a deep well together.
• Music! Abbi and Ilana discover the satisfying rhythms of the city and each other’s names, and they walk around drumming on trash cans, fire hydrants, lampposts, cats, etc. They stumble into a comfortable, happy high and talk about how relatable their dynamic is.
That’s when Abbi gets a text from Dara: She needs 100 macarons for a party. Reality penetrates the trip and they start to freak out, but Ilana reminds them that macarons are colorful and the mission is for love, so therefore this is a good and worthwhile thing to do.
They arrive at the pastry shop and marvel at the colors, shapes, and popularity of macarons given the fact that they taste terrible. They manage to complete their task, and by the time they get to Dara’s they have mostly returned to reality. Mostly. The world around them still flashes with the chalk-bright colors of a Sesame Street segment.
Dara invites them to stay for the party. Ilana flirts with an attractive woman who invites her to have a three-way with her partner. Meanwhile, Dara invites Abbi to a work dinner to talk about creative assignments. Unfortunately, Abbi and Ilana are starting to crash and the good news feels somewhat dull. They sneak off to the guest room to get a little stoned and mitigate the effects of the comedown. Everything goes a little fuzzy, and as they go their separate ways, Abbi and Ilana get increasingly anxious.
Ilana goes home with the couple, but she’s too uncomfortable to enjoy herself. When she goes to the bathroom to try and get herself ready, she visualizes an animated Lincoln telling her about the benefits of good oral hygiene. Back at the party, Abbi tries to get comfortable enough to go out and mingle. She lets out Dara’s cat — undoubtedly a mistake — and then finds that she’s locked in. Abbi tries to calm down but has a full-on panic attack, scored by the plaintive sounds of a cat screaming. Dara enters: It turns out Abbi was never locked in, she just couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door. Abbi confesses to Dara that she’s tripping, and Dara tells her, “This too shall pass.” Dara opens the door to the patio so Abbi can get some fresh air, only to find that her cat was killed when Abbi accidentally closed the door on her. Dara promptly fires her.
Meanwhile, Ilana is handed a strap-on and given an opportunity that she would ordinarily jump at, but she continues to see Lincoln animated in the couple’s bedroom. Lincoln congratulates her on getting what she’s always wanted, but Ilana can’t do it. She psyches herself up, but it’s too late — the couple knows something is wrong. It isn’t working for any of them. Ilana goes home.
The next day, Ilana knows what she has to do: smoke a bowl and Facebook stalk Lincoln’s new relationship. She unfriends and unfollows Lincoln, finally letting out a primal scream. She tells Abbi that she feels better now.
I like that Broad City is finally letting its characters’ decisions come home to roost. Abbi’s drug use may have consequences for her career. Ilana letting Lincoln slip through her fingers for fear of commitment might have been a mistake. Both Abbi and Ilana are in their late 20s, a point when reality starts to set in for everyone. The things you want are things you have to pursue now. Abbi and Ilana are usually reactionary characters, only moved to action when it is absolutely necessary, so Ilana making the active choice to unfriend Lincoln is a big step.
There have been plenty of “watch these characters do drugs” episodes of TV lately — the shrooms episode of Love comes to mind — but “Mushrooms” is the most fun of the bunch. It’s definitely my favorite episode of the season so far.
• It’s surely a coincidence that Abbi and Ilana appeared as animated cucumbers just a few weeks after Rick and Morty’s “Pickle Rick,” but I wouldn’t have guessed it’d be the hot TV trope of the season.
• This episode is right: Macarons really are disgusting and their popularity is purely due to an obsession with Instagram and everything French.
• To psyche herself up, Ilana gives herself empowering nicknames. My favorites were Ilana Rodham Obama Wexler and Nicki Minashkenazi.