Broad City: "Working Girls"
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Broad City: "Working Girls"

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Broad City

"Working Girls"

Season 1, Episode 3

Abbi and Ilana could easily go a day without seeing or Skyping each other between their jobs and cross-borough locations, but they don't even think about it. They just know they'd rather do nothing around each other than anything else. The real world's there thanks to Soulstice and Deals Deals Deals!, but otherwise, Broad City is perfectly content to shoot the shit over Froot Loops and dog parks. Thanks to years of collaboration between Glazer and Jacobson, Broad City skipped the traditional awkwardness of a cast trying to settle into its series and went straight to a nonchalance that comedies even years into their run never get.

But after a couple episodes getting us comfortable with the back and forth between Ilana and Abbi, "Working Girls" makes the bold move of splitting them up. Their friendship is the undeniable heart of the show, but it’s a testament to how comfortable Broad City is in its vision that “Working Girls” is still the best – and outright funniest –  episode so far.

The emphasis on separating the two starts with the cold open. In barely a minute, we get to see how the broads spend a typical day in a simultaneous side-by-side comparison (much like the webseries episode, "The Commute"). On the left we have Abbi, who takes off her sleep mask, bleaches her facial hair, cleans toilets, fights with subway and park bench interlopers, has dinner with Ilana, and knocks out an illustration before bed. On the right side there’s Ilana, who sleeps open-mouthed and drooling at home, sleeps open-mouthed and drooling on the subway, sneaks a joint, sleeps open-mouthed and drooling on her work toilet, has dinner with Abbi, dances, dances, dances, and falls hard onto an anonymous dive bar floor, where we can only assume she’s sleeping, open-mouthed and drooling. It’s a simple enough concept, but the execution is pretty slick, especially when the timelines converge at their shared dinner. The dinner also helps to elevate this whole exercise from a stark “she’s type A and she’s so crazy!” comparison. Abbi and Ilana have their different tastes, but when they’re together, it doesn’t matter.

This cold open sets the stage for the rest of “Working Girls,” which basically takes the idea of “what do Abbi and Ilana do when they’re not together?” and blows it out. On the one side, there’s Ilana. Eternally bored at her job, she gets a call from the temp agency to go temp at the temp agency. Ilana being Ilana, she immediately drops the nothing she’s doing at Deals Deals Deals! and scampers off to see what other kind of nothing she can get up to. The resulting chaos and dog walking roulette is predictably hilarious, but the best thing about Ilana’s day is that Rachel Dratch and Janeane Garofolo show up—as Glazer’s straight-women. Dratch does get a little more to do as the increasingly frantic temp agency director, gaping at Ilana's almost defiant incompetence while gathering the office’s candy supply off the floor. Garofalo also does well with her wan vet, especially once the character decides to be amused rather than horrified that Ilana would ask if dog hemmheroid cream might work "on human buttholes." But it's not a small thing that these two fantastically funny women are pretty much there to stand back and let Glazer shine.

On the other side there’s Abbi, whose crush on her neighbor has reached the point where she’ll call in sick to stay home and wait for his delivery (a familiar point to anyone with an inexplicably all-consuming crush, i.e. a crush). With a enthusiastic prod from Ilana, Abbi becomes convinced that this is it; this favor is just the next step towards Jeremy noticing how drop-dead hot his accommodating neighbor is and inviting her on whatever perfectly rustic thing he does in those plaid shirts. Or maybe they’ll just hook up. Either way, she has to stock up on condoms. And so when Abbi comes back to her apartment ten minutes before the six hour(!) delivery window begins and sees the “sorry we missed you!” slip, she does the only logical thing—she panics.  The sound blows out like a bomb’s gone off, and all we can hear is the high-pitched beeping of her failure. It’s a perfectly stressful note to start what turns out to be a nightmare day for Abbi, because all the while, we know that she’s so into this guy that missing a delivery for him literally feels like the world’s ending. And as she tells Ilana with all the bitterness she can muster, she bought too many condoms again—“story of my life, so, I have to deal with that.”

From there, Abbi’s day spirals into total madness. To get to the package at “North Brother Island,” Abbi goes from an empty subway car, to a remote bus parked who knows where, to her most inexplicable and spit take inducing mode of transportation—a water taxi whose only other passengers are sets of identical twins. It feels like something Upright Citizens Brigade would have done if only they had a bigger budget. By the time Abbi got to the warehouse and met its ornery caretaker “Garol,” I was beside myself. I didn’t even need Abbi to call her roommate’s disgusting boyfriend to be Jeremy’s stand-in, but I can’t complain, since it ended with her punting a Costco rotisserie chicken halfway to Jersey in a fit of rage once he blew it.

So far, everything on the show has stayed largely rooted in reality. Okay, so Fred Armisen as a man in baby diapers and Ilana keeping her weed stash in her vagina pushed the limit, but really, all the bits have looked like exaggerations of stories you’d hear from your most uninhibited friend. Abbi’s storyline is a sign of how Broad City is apparently unafraid to go bigger. From where I’m standing, it’s more than ready to take the leap.

Stray observations: 

  • There was so much to go into here that I don’t know if I fully conveyed just how fucking funny this episode was, but the jokes were flying so fast at one point that it almost felt like I was watching a slightly stoned 30 Rock. The condoms line was my favorite, but a close second was Ilana sitting on the vet’s scale and asking Garofalo, “Am I thin? Like, for a dog.”
  • Trainer Terry only had a quick scene, but a great one. (Remind me to never try “cellular confusion,” it sounds like the worst.) He’s also played by Paul Downs, who co-wrote “Working Girls” with episode director Lucia Aniello. Everyone’s pulling double duty!
  • Hannibal Buress continues to crush it, this time with his dog naming. So pleased Judith Light pulled through her candy crisis.
  • Abbi believes Jeremy’s package contains one of the following: clues to a mystery he's going to solve, manly handcrafted ax, a really nice belt.
  • "I sometimes train VIP clients at night...like, Shania...Twain."

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