Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Broad City has a rat problem and a Tinder problem

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Broad City can take the most mundane, relatable scenarios and make them thoroughly entertaining to watch. In “Rat Pack,” Ilana has a rat in her apartment. It’s a straightforward—albeit disgusting—problem a lot of people with apartments have experienced. But even just the way Broad City establishes Ilana’s rat problem delights. We don’t just simply see Ilana spotting a rat. Oh, no. Broad City has more fun than that. Instead, we get an entire opening sequence from the rat’s perspective. We scurry and squeak along Ilana’s floor, peeping quick, context-less moments, like Lincoln about to enjoy a well constructed sandwich and Ilana, Abbi, and Jaime booty-popping before a night out. The rat is no ordinary rat. It’s a rat that lives in Ilana’s world, which means it’s a rat that smokes weed. Right off the bat, Broad City puts a little twist on its rat problem. Broad City makes a habit of turning the mundane into weird fun, and that’s certainly true in “Rat Pack,” which doesn’t stand out quite as strongly as the first three episodes of the season but still embodies so many of the show’s strengths.

The main thing holding “Rat Pack” back is Abbi’s storyline, which starts strong before meandering into half-baked territory. I was surprised by how much I loved the kiss between Abbi and Trey. I think, like Abbi, I was sort of repulsed by and into it all at once. Now, I’m not saying I’m suddenly a Trabbi shipper or anything (do those exist?), but getting a little too drunk at a work function and then awkwardly kissing a coworker is typically the perfect kind of storyline for Broad City to take on. It’s relatable. It’s a small problem that feels like a full-on crisis. I couldn’t wait to watch Abbi deal with it in her expectedly spazzy way. And at first, the aftermath was pretty great. Abbi tried to immediately move past the Treygedy by joining Tinder so she could find someone else to make out with. But the Tinder stuff ends up falling flat. A bunch of guys show up who don’t look like their pictures and are otherwise garbage, and it turns out Abbi didn’t know she could swipe left on anyone. The story has its strong moments, but it banks on Abbi’s Tinder ignorance being funny enough to make up for the fact that it’s not all that believable. Broad City could have delved into some of the grim realities of Tinder and done so with its signature flair, but instead it just sort of keeps Abbi busy in a conflict that loses its steam.

The rest of “Rat Pack,” however, works quite well. Ilana’s rat problem turns into a money problem (and later, back into a rat problem) when the exterminator charges her and Jaime $400. But a solution shows up on their doorstep, literally. A gift basket full of artisanal snacks and ingredients arrives, and Ilana decides to use it as the vehicle for a party with a cover charge. Again, a surprise gift basket doesn’t really seem like a whole lot to roll with, and yet Broad City turns that gift basket into a literal party. We haven’t spent time in Ilana’s apartment to the same extent as we have in Abbi’s, and “Rat Pack” really does the space justice, further developing another cranny of Broad City’s world.

“Rat Pack” is the first episode this season that brings Jaime into the spotlight. Arturo Castro doesn’t always get a lot of time to shine as Broad City’s sweetheart Jaime, but even his briefest moments are wonderful. Jaime’s unwavering sincerity provides a necessary balance to Ilana, and I’ve always liked how Broad City just lets Jaime be this totally genuine, emotional guy without making his earnestness the butt of the joke. His story in “Rat Pack” is very sad in a real, emotional way. He mistakenly thinks the gift basket is from his parents, who haven’t spoken to him since he came out. So when it’s revealed that the gift basket was mistakenly delivered to them, it’s a crushing blow for him. At least he gets his de-mustached boy in the end. Because of the show’s intense focus on Abbi and Ilana and their friendship, characters like Lincoln and Jaime end up being the side pieces, but neither character has ever felt like a caricature. Both have been developed over time, albeit in more spaced out strokes than Abbi and Ilana. In “Rat Pack,” Jaime exists outside of Ilana. His problems put hers into perspective, and it’s very in character for Ilana to not really see that. Jaime then owns the tag. Thank god someone finally pointed out to Ilana that her Latina earrings easily fall under cultural appropriation. Jaime acts as a bit of an audience surrogate in that regard—the outsider perspective that Ilana needs. Jaime keeps it real, and Broad City needs that from time to time.

Stray observations

  • It honestly took me about half the episode to realize they were saying “Larry & David” and not “Harry & David.”
  • “The media: reducing even cats to stereotypes.”
  • “My money!” “My parents!” “My chef’s high!”
  • “She’s a single gal! She’s me!”