It’s time to talk about Bevers.
Bevers is more a collection of disgusting details than an actual character, which can make sense for an exaggerated sketch-adjacent show like Broad City. But it was clear since the beginning that however cathartic it is for Broad City’s writers to combine every gross roommate story they’ve heard into one weak excuse for a human, Bevers (John Gemberling) is at his best when his appearance is a brief one. The storylines that lean on him as anything more have never been very strong because they lean so heavily on “isn’t he disgusting?” The question has never changed, and the answer is always yes.
I didn’t mention Bevers at all when I wrote about last week’s premiere, but “In Heat” uses him perfectly. He appears in two quick scenes that are more bizarre than gross, tipping a domino that causes future chaos rather than simpering about whatever foul thing he’s done in or around Abbi’s apartment. “Mochalatta Chills” is a different story. It kicks off with Bevers’ bedsores and then brings Bevers and his unhealthy farts full-on into Abbi’s life at work. Abbi’s boss Trey (Broad City writer Paul Downs) is convinced that he can whip Bevers into shape and launch himself closer to his goal of becoming the Zach Braff of personal training. He feels confident he can follow in the great Braff’s footseps, having donated $14,000 to the Wish I Were Here Kickstarter (they spelled his name wrong in the credits and he didn’t get his set visit but it was still totally worth it). I’m always in favor of more screentime for Trey, who is somehow equal parts enthusiasm and disdain, but taking Bevers on as a client just manages to bring out the unadulterated dick in him.
Now, part of the joke here is that spending so much time with Bevers is Abbi’s worst nightmare—but I realized about three seconds into this storyline that spending so much time with Bevers is my worst nightmare, too. The most purely fun moment of “Mochalatta Chills” comes when Abbi realizes the apartment is Bevers-free and celebrates with a gleeful naked dance set to Lady Gaga’s “Edge Of Glory” (a perfectly anachronistic and blandly motivational choice for a woman with an Oprah tattoo). In that moment, her joy is my joy, and it feels great. So when Abbi finds out that Bevers has joined her gym, her devastation is my devastation, and it is awful. It’s a purposeful rollercoaster, but this particular Bevers rollercoaster stopped being fun somewhere around “Hurricane Wanda.” When a character is as overtly obnoxious as Bevers, any appeal he has comes from just being grateful you don’t have to deal with him yourself, and it only goes so far. Bevers is the walking, talking, farting embodiment of gross-out cringe comedy, and he needs to evolve. As he stands now, Broad City has evolved past him.
Meanwhile, Ilana (alias “Ms. Wexler”) decides to give working a shot when her boss (alias Chris Gethard) finally threatens to fire her. I say “finally” because even in Broad City’s bizarro version of the world, Ilana should have been fired the day she was hired. At the very least, though, the ultimatum—and her boss’ sad confession that her slacking makes him feel bad—makes her work harder, which in turn shows us the unprecedented sight of a productive Ilana. Still, Ilana will only work as hard as she wants to work, and so her version of productivity is hiring a team of ethnically diverse unpaid interns to triple her workload for her. It’s a brilliant move that perfectly sums up this new Corporate Ilana. She’s just as confident and unapologetic as the day-to-day model, which makes her an effective if sexually aggressive boss. Corporate Ilana also turns out to have an extra streak of ruthlessness that takes even her by surprise.
It’s a treat to see Ilana go all-in for something so different than her usual, but this storyline never quite lands. I’m all for Ilana finding perverted purpose and her coworker (Nicole Drespel) getting more material for her memos (though frankly, Nicole deserves some kind of restitution for Ilana kissing her all over against her will). But by the time Ilana marches her white power suit into the office to see her black intern scrubbing the floor and singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” the joke is too on the nose to provide much of a punch beyond “ooh, they went there.” At the very least, though, Ilana taking over Deals Deals Deals! gives us the priceless scene where Gethard stares in resignation as a girl gang steps out from a police lineup and repeats the same humiliating, hilarious lines. I might have been disappointed by the episode as a whole, but a run like “nice Razor scooter, pencil dick…you aborted Macklemore motherfucker…lookin’ like Albert Knobbs” is just a thing of beauty.
- I didn’t get a chance to listen to the entirety of Abbi and Ilana’s interview with Sleater Kinney before logging this review, but here is the link so we can all do that very soon because !
- Shoutout to Chris Rock for lending his voice to the cold open/plea to Hollywood to greenlight “Chris Rock is a werewolf-fighting werewolf.”
- Paul Downs’ face as Trey tries to determine if Bevers’ fart was male or female (“yeah, that’s a woman’s fart”).
- Very much in favor of Ilana spreading her queer wings, between digging both her male and female interns and yes, Albert Knobbs.
- Abbi and Ilana’s usual banter routine was mostly restricted the cold open (the aforementioned “Chris Rock is a werewolf-fighting werewolf” movie sequence) and the end tag, both of which are unrelated to the rest of the episode. But again, Abbi and Ilana talking about nothing is still better than most characters on TV talking about anything, so I’ll take it.
- “I’m going to see you give birth?” “Bitch, who else would be my focal point?”