Broad City: “Stolen Phone”
B+

Broad City: “Stolen Phone”

B+

Broad City

"Stolen Phone"

Season 1, Episode 6

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“Stolen Phone” is a solid episode of television. It isn’t an instantly quotable classic like “Working Girls” or “Fattest Asses,” but this doesn’t make it a disappointment (especially because the fact that we’re even discussing “instant classics” six episodes into a series is amazing in and of itself). But Glazer and Jacobson recently told Bitch that they approached every episode of Broad City as a “day in the life,” and “Stolen Phone” is the first episode where it really feels like it could take be happening on any day of any week. It’s decidedly lower key—at least as much as an episode that features cake smashing, cunnilingus, and topless calisthenics in public places can qualify as “lowkey.”

There’s plenty to like here, especially in the middle section’s flurry of activity as Ilana and Abbi follow the iPhone’s blinking dot on the “Find My Phone” app. That the phone thief turns out to be a tourist barely qualifies as a twist, but it’s really just an excuse for Ilana and Abbi to get outside their particular corners of the city. They drag themselves up to the Upper East Side and sidestep caricatures of ladies who lunch (at least when they can’t bear to keep track of their horses). They storm Central Park and the sunbathing “monsters” who dare enjoy a beautiful day. They grimace their way into Times Square and stare at the neon lights with all the disdain they can muster.  Some have compared Broad City’s light surrealism as a nod to Louie, and I don’t think they’re wrong, but I felt the similarities the most tonight as Ilana and Abbi begrudgingly opened their horizons past their own boroughs.

This was also the perfect episode to air after a particularly telling interaction I had about Broad City just a week ago. A co-worker of mine recently tore through the show, came into the office, furrowed his brow, and asked, “Is it weird that I think Ilana’s…crazy…hot?” Now, I’m telling this story not only because I know he’s not alone (I see you, commenters), but also because Ilana’s combination of overt sexuality, total confidence, and nonchalant love of all things dick (pink or otherwise) is so rare on television that it’s actually startling. When have we seen a woman on television that shrugs on overalls and hair extensions with equal nonchalance, stores “sex media” on a burner phone, and loves cunnilingus so unabashedly that she dreams of the day when she and her best friend can enjoy it in tandem while pantomiming the Arc de Triomphe? And as far as this episode is concerned, I can’t remember the last time I saw a scene where a man said he prefers unshaven pubic hair and it wasn’t a punchline, let alone cause for a celebratory lift. Still, I wasn’t fully invested in Ilana finding a beautiful boy (Luke Guldan) who loves everything she does until we got to see his improv show. Trapping Ilana and Abbi in a blackbox theater for a cringe-inducing improv set with “The Statutory Crepes” (yikes) might look like a weirdly backhanded way to pay homage to Glazer and Jacobson’s Upright Citizens Brigade background, but Tyler’s relentless hogging of the spotlight is a tongue-in-cheek way to make fun of everything UCB stands against. Guldan gleefully attacks the worst that improv has to offer with an awesomely bad Dr. Evil impression and baby talk that’s so disturbing it makes Ilana shut down their terrific sex point blank. Yes, she’s disappointed, but once Lincoln offers a cake to smash her face in (not a euphemism), she bounces right back with a real, adorable smile.

Meanwhile, Abbi’s so floored that a handsome guy (Tom Lipinski) asked for her number and called her “one of those hot girls” that she goes into full-on panic mode when she realizes her phone is missing. (“He called me hot. I’m cute, but you get it.”) As her phone and the possibility that she’ll get his text get further and further away, Abbi gets more and more invested in the relationship that could have been. Her situation versus Ilana’s fatally flawed hookup could read as yet another way to demonstrate the contrast between the two, but we also get to see more of the Abbi who would simultaneously steal a van and Ilana’s heart. No, she doesn’t break into a bathroom stall and snort coke like last week, but she does clamber up onto a bar and demand that everyone link arms and sweep the floor for her missing phone, which in my book is a much bolder move. It’s also smart to take Abbi’s desperate attempt to find her phone/soulmate and then immediately undercut it with their boring date, and then immediately undercut that with the reveal that Abbi totally slept with him anyway. Ilana may be more overtly different from the women we’re used to seeing on television, but it turns out that Abbi’s just as resistant to being pinned down. 

But once again, Abbi and Ilana’s friendship is the heart of this episode. From the first scene with them feverishly Facebooking any guy they’ve ever had a fleeting interest in, to Ilana sprinting to Abbi’s for fear that she got “SVU’ed,” to Abbi’s burst of laughter when she sees Ilana and Lincoln’s frosting faces, their bond is what keeps both “Stolen Phone” and the series together.

Stray observations:

  • Announced this week: Broad City’s second season is a go! This is very exciting news, but if Garol’s not promoted to a regular, I am out.
  • Yes, Tyler’s improv is the worst, but Ilana will at least give him, “I am a robot, and I’m programmed to be horny.”
  • The editors were on point for that Facebook frenzy (though I think I’ll be hearing the notification beep in my sleep tonight, THANKS GUYS).
  • Ruibo Qian’s drunk tourist is a little too broad at times, but you have to appreciate that final, shot of her on toilet seat, methodically shoving a cupcake into her mouth.
  • Ilana on determining eligibility via Facebook: “He ‘likes’ Roseanne? Okay, this is your new sexual partner.”
  • “What’s better than a pink dick with a sense of humor? Besides a black dick.” “Sometimes, you’re so anti-racist that you’re actually really racist.”
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