It doesn’t sound like a compliment, but one of the best things about Broad City is how determined it is to keep the stakes as low as possible. You’d think Broad City would want to keep the momentum going with some grand gesture or gag to keep people interested after its strong series premiere, but hallucinogens aside, “P*$$y Weed” is pretty to the point. All Abbi wants to do this week is get high, and Ilana sets out to do her taxes—or get her refund, or wear glasses and a shirt with a denim vest on it, or whatever doing taxes actually means, she doesn’t know. Or care. The important thing is that they’ll inevitably meet up at the ATM where that guy threw up on Abbi and get into some crazy shit together. And if that crazy shit gets into them…so be it. (But more on that later!)
“P*$$y Weed” does play with episode structure a bit more than the premiere did. Every cut to commercial is the same: people screaming in abject horror. It goes from Ilana realizing she’s lost her veneer and terrifying an actual kid in a candy store, to tax accountant Killian kicking Abbi and Ilana out of his office, to a drenched Abbi on the floor of the dentist’s waiting room, terrifying kids and parents alike. The only one that didn’t work for me was Killian’s. His mounting frustration with his incredibly stoned (and broke) clients is understandable, but his anger revs up too quickly at the end. It also goes against the dynamic that the episode had already set up. In “P*$$y Weed,” Abbi and Ilana are decidedly and defiantly the weirdos. From Killian the accountant, to the smiling mom at the dentist’s, to the miserable office supply store employee, everyone else is just trying to live their lives without incident—and then they meet Abbi and Ilana.
Sending Abbi out to find weed and Ilana to an accountant is a smart reversal without being a reversal at all, really. Ilana is more overtly wild than Abbi, but when push comes to shove, Abbi will still steal furs from a man in a diaper who stiffed her. She’ll be more conflicted about it than Ilana, but she'll do it. And so the same goes for her pursuit of weed, in which she shuffles around a park burning with anticipatory humiliation, but lights up once she runs into the prep school kid with a truly astonishing stash in his satchel. After all, she reasons, she’s an adult; she really should be buying her own pot.
And then they’re off. Ilana is so excited to have Abbi in her stoner corner today that she doesn’t realize Abbi’s spiraling into a series of breakdowns. To be fair, it started once Abbi’s closed down their Skype chat and realized her roommate’s boyfriend has thrown away all her carefully collected Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons. Her rage versus his confusion is another reversal: the coupons are expired, so he hasn’t actually made a bizarre mistake like he usually does, but something in Abbi still snaps. Suddenly, she’s the crazy roommate. Abbi Jacobsen does a great job toeing the line between suppressed rage and total panic, a combination that ends with Abbi expressing her frustration by smacking a kitchen chair to the ground and yelling about all the ottomans she could have bought. It’s pathetic, it’s hilarious, and it’s a sign of the futile fury that’s still to come. While Abbi gets higher and higher to the point of a total meltdown, though, Ilana’s having a great time. Yeah, her taxes are such a mess she has to carry them around in a paper bag, and sure, chipping her veneer on a jawbreaker is a bummer, but she’s got Abbi and a dentist slash fuckbuddy on call who’s heavy-handed with the nitrous oxide. Things are still looking just fine.
Much has been said about Ilana as a new kind of character for television. It’s not that we haven’t seen loud stoners that are unapologetically crass; it’s just that the characters grinning through their vaporizers aren’t usually female. At the very least, no Apatow dude or Workaholic could hide their stash from drug-sniffing dogs by putting it in their vaginas like Ilana does. Yes, “P*$$y Weed” is exactly as literal as it sounds, so no, the premiere’s blunt mid-sex scene was not a fluke; this show is going to be filthy. But Broad City has so far done an admirable job balancing the late night p*$$y/weed side of things and the fact that at its core, this show is about friendship. They Skype from Astoria to Brooklyn over cereal to talk about nothing more interesting than what it would be like to have blue eyes (for future reference: probably pretty fucking creepy). For every full-blown freak-out, there’s a scene where Abbi and Ilana just sit in a park and point out the people they’d sleep with (or let see them naked, either one). Where other writers and actors might use stoned scenes to spin off into philosophies about nothing, Glazer and Jacobsen’s real-life chemistry continues to be enough that we believe Ilana and Abbi’s deep-seeded, codependent relationship even just two episodes into the series. Sometimes it’s just their reactions that make them convincing. One minute Ilana’s pulling her stash out of her leggings, and the next she’s doing a simpering “mommy and daddy” voice that makes Abbi laugh so hard she asks her to do it again, and again, and again. When Ilana asks Abbi what kind of dog she’d be, Abbi’s immediate answer (“a slim pug”) makes Ilana laugh so hard she almost falls off the fountain. It’s rare that a series feels this comfortable right off the bat, but it helps that all incarnations of Abbi and Ilana are having so much fun that it’s hard not to have fun right with them.
- Apologies for the late review, guys. If I could roll away in shame, I would.
- The design and costume departments deserve a mention. Abbi’s room is lovely and organized without being too obviously from Pottery Barn, and Ilana’s room is a believable mess of lotions and shoe racks and nightstands with plastic drawers. And whoever made the woman formerly known as Cheese’s giant gauged earlobes is my new favorite person.
- Which reminds me: that moment when a mother asks Abbi how many kids she has and Abbi just silently and clumsily rolls away hit so close to home, I don’t even want to talk about it.
- The secondary characters are still kind of sketchy (I’m still not totally on board with Abbi’s defacto slob roommate), but Hannibal Buress’ Lincoln is a deadpan joy. “That was a good joke. That and the one from earlier, I am crushing it.”
- Ilana asks Killian, “who yells?” with such disgust, like yelling is a thing of the past.
- Ilana broke her veneer on a dog bone, so she doesn’t tell many people about it, to be honest.