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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Broad City: “The Lockout”

Illustration for article titled iBroad City/i: “The Lockout”
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Broad City is settling into its groove. “Lockout” doesn’t take as many risks as last week’s experimental “Working Girls,” but it’s still a very funny episode that brings Abbi and Ilana back together. The script (written by Glazer and Jacobson) does have to do some logistic cartwheels to get them both locked out, since they don’t actually live together. So we open in Abbi’s apartment, which has apparently recruited its own tenants to bug-bomb the place, and quickly end up on Ilana’s stoop, only to find out she doesn’t have her keys. They can’t call Ilana’s neighbors (even pressing the intercom with the wooden stick provided sends sparks flying), trying to break in via the fire escape is just a comedy of errors, and the locksmith they call in is so repulsive that his every breath sounds like he’s coming down off a vigorous jerking off (I’m so sorry). They understandably get freaked out, then ask him to open another apartment entirely, which is perhaps a little less understandable. The ensuing series of mishaps feels a lot like the pilot, especially as Abbi and Ilana get more desperate, more depraved, and most importantly, more disgusting.

They get maced. Abbi wakes up in her own vomit. They have to pour bottles of water all over their burning faces while waiting for the subway. Abbi fakes her way through parkour while Ilana pumps fancy lotion into a plastic to-go bag (“Kiehl’s”). When they finally get themselves to Abbi’s big gallery opening, they’re tired and sore and cranky, and so when Ilana realizes that they’ve been busting their asses to see Abbi’s illustrations on the wall of a sandwich shop, the weight of the day hits them. It’s the first time we’ve really seen them fight. They play it off as a shouty joke at first, but Ilana breaking down to Lincoln about how she’s disappointed Abbi again is legitimately touching, even with the presence of garbage bagels. But it’s a lot to ask of the last three minutes to wrap up this story and end on a punchy button, so the conclusion of “Lockout” ends up lagging behind.


Even if the episode had some dips in energy, though, the commitment to detail on this show is consistently impressive. As Abbi’s running out of her bug-bombed apartment, she almost immediately doubles back so she can sync her escape with cute neighbor Jeremy. The seconds before their creepy Timmy Olyphant lookalike locksmith appears feature a concentrated sound cue of a screaming match down the street, which distracts Ilana from Abbi musing that maybe Michael Buble could use his crooning powers for good. They never say that Ilana’s apartment is the one completely coated in the bumper stickers you find at a Hot Topic register, but they trust that you know enough about her to understand that they decide to break into the wrong apartment. Ilana carries that pole around the entire episode, and somehow, they keep finding comedic uses for it. (The pole gets mistaken for a weapon, becomes a fake-out subway pole that sends innocent people crashing to the ground, and in the most Abbot and Costello bit yet, keeps Ilana out of the gallery as she tries to walk through the door while holding it horizontally.) Not all of these are huge laughs, but they’re all encouraging. A show that pays attention to the little stuff this early on isn’t likely to drop the ball later without a fight.

Now, let’s talk about relatability.

I don’t necessarily think it’s a television show’s job to be relatable. If presenting people with situations they’re already familiar with were a prerequisite, we wouldn’t have Breaking Bad, or The Sopranos, or even 30 Rock. Half the novelty with series like those is that their characters’ lives are so unfamiliar; they’re “what ifs” brought roaring to life in our living rooms. But on the flip side, those moments when we can relate to something onscreen are often a show’s most powerful assets. Much has rightly been made in recent years of the lack of diversity onscreen and the importance of righting that wrong, so that the larger perception of minorities isn’t limited to a handful non-white characters. And it’s safe to say that no one reading this has lost their direwolf to a power hungry teenage king, but when it happened on Game Of Thrones, many of us thought about when our dogs died, or just remembered what it feels like to lose something that special. Relatability isn’t a requirement, but being able to empathize with even just an aspect of a show is invaluable.


What I’m trying to say is, Abbi and Ilana debating whether they’d rather have Michael Buble or Janet Jackson go down on them is just about the only conversation on television today that I can imagine having with my friends, and it’s incredibly refreshing.

See, the dirty secret about criticism is that it can never truly be objective. We try, and can certainly succeed, but at the end of the day, our personal preferences and socio-economic situations will always be lurking just behind our words. So: I’m a woman in my mid-twenties who lives in a Big City. Ostensibly, there have been about a thousand sitcoms catering to my experience, but in reality, very few even come close. Most twentysomething hangout shows feature people who are richer, wittier, whiter, and hotter than 99 percent of anyone in that age group.  When a show spotlights situations that we’re not used to seeing but which actually feel familiar (like a strong female friendship, being broke, and probably a little stoned), it’s hard not to get excited just by the fact of it. But the most exciting thing about Broad City so far is that it shows no signs of settling with the fact that it exists. It would rather let you know it can wake someone up in her own vomit post-pepper spray, and you’ll just be excited to know how much more hilariously twisted things are going to get.


Stray observations:

  • Abbi Jacobson continues to stretch her physical comedy muscles with a series of truly weird parkour moves (my personal favorite is “the cat pass,” which means rolling across the hood of a car and then scratching it with your claws).
  • Ilana Glazer continues to stretch her line delivery muscles with the most involved pronunciation of “sandwich” I may have ever heard.
  • I didn't love the end tag with Creepy Locksmith creeping in to find “Yolanda,” because yeeugghh, but it almost came around for me when it became clear the credits would roll over 20 seconds of just him screaming.
  • Lincoln, upon finding Ilana on a bench surrounded by Bed Bath & Beyond bags and garbage bagels: “Do you… look crazy?”
  • Abbi knows what’s up: “They don't even have meat, so I don’t know if I would consider it a sandwich shop.”
  • “This is the biggest moment of our lives!” “I mean, it’s my life… but you’re with me, so okay.”

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