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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It’s “Game Over” for Ilana’s professional life on Broad City

Illustration for article titled It’s “Game Over” for Ilana’s professional life on iBroad City/i
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So far this season, the Broad City writers’ room has shown off the impressive ability to weave elements of the past back into the show without ever feeling repetitive. When Broad City references the past and hits its callbacks, it does so in a way that keeps things moving along, adding something new to the world instead of just recalling it. “Game Day” is no exception. After all, we learn the origin story of all those pubes that kept Abbi very busy back in her cleaner days at Soulstice. On Broad City, no character detail or world choice seems to exist in a vacuum. Even the most random moments aren’t that random after all.

Take, for example, last week’s cold open, when Abbi and Ilana take on some very rude and aggressive children in a game of pickup basketball. I only gave it a brief shout-out in the stray observations of the review. It was a fun scene, one fueled by Abbi and Ilana’s solid teamwork and one that slipped into the more surreal side of Broad City’s universe. Abbi and Ilana became ballers, and it was beautiful. As it turns out, that scene did more than just provide some jokes and let Ilana get up close and personal with Abbi’s ass. After the gals defeat the children, Abbi loses her shit, taking her disses a bit too far and becoming frighteningly strong, popping the basketball with her bare hands. The cold open was a glimpse of what’s to come. As “Co-Op” meticulously wove elements of the past into its story, it was also laying the groundwork for the future. We’ve seen scary, competitive Abbi before. We just didn’t entirely know what we were looking at.


But this terrifying version of Abbi comes back in full force for “Game Over,” which also shows Abbi settling into her new life as a Soulstice trainer. Abbi definitely seems happy to not be cleaning up people’s disgusting messes anymore, but being a trainer comes with its own shit, like dealing with a gross old man in the elderly water aerobics class she leads and seeing a lot more of the other Soulstice trainers than she ever wanted to. And when it comes time for the Soulstice Games, a truly ugly part of Abbi awakens. Ilana identifies Competitive Abbi immediately and rushes to help, but it’s too late. Abbi tortures her coworkers all day with her inappropriate taunts and intensity. But she truly crosses the line when Gemma (D’Arcy Carden) talks shit back, calling Abbi a cleaner. It hits a nerve, and Abbi snaps, smashing Gemma’s face in.

Broad City doesn’t just let Abbi and Ilana do whatever the fuck they want without there being consequences. Even though the show will sometimes play with reality, distort things to make them seem just a little off, as was the case for all the slightly exaggerated co-op humor last week. But it still keeps things incredibly real, treating the characters as real people who suffer real consequences. In the real world, Ilana would have been fired from her job a very long time ago. The Broad City world, however, turned her unlikely employment into a bit, using Todd’s lack of assertiveness and Ilana’s confidence to sell her longevity at Deals, Deals, Deals. But the writers correctly realized the joke had to reach its conclusion or it would run the risk of becoming too overplayed, too ridiculous. So “Game Over” pushes the joke of Ilana’s employment as far as it can go before bringing it to its end. Vanessa Williams guest stars as a wealthy, fabulous investor looking to revamp Deals, Deals, Deals. Ilana perfectly describes Williams’ magnetism: “I don’t know if I wanna be her or be in her.” Ilana’s lack of professionalism and love of slightly outdated memes and viral videos ends up making her an asset for the investor’s new vision, so Ilana gets promoted to social media manager.


But instead of succeeding in her new job, Ilana maintains her signature lack of professionalism and gets Deals, Deals, Deal wrapped up in a PR nightmare. Todd finally finds the strength he needs to fire her for good, and Ilana can’t talk herself out of it this time. It was a long time coming, but it also came at the perfect time, especially when juxtaposed with Abbi’s professional life, which is unexpectedly looking up by the end of “Game Over.” It turns out competitive aggression makes her very well suited to be a Soulstice trainer. Ilana is truest self, for better or worse, in her tweets for Deals, Deals, Deals and it gets her fired. Even though “Game Over” heightens both stories, the ultimate outcomes are pretty grounded in the real world. Broad City includes consequences for their actions, and it makes the show all the more compelling and well constructed.

With the end of her time at Deals, Deals, Deals comes the end of the rather one-sided war between Ilana and her deskmate Nicole (Nicole Drespel). Nicole’s obvious hatred of Ilana—met with Ilana’s obliviousness—has been a running gag since season one. And it all ends with Nicole fantasizing an elaborate song and dance sequence featuring Whoopi Goldberg in her Sister Act costume—a fitting farewell by Broad City standards. It’s weird and over-the-top, but the stakes for Nicole have been incredibly high since day one. Once again, Broad City bends reality without betraying its own universe.


Stray observations

  • There’s a callback to ilanawexler@mindmyvagina.com (mindmyvagina.com, by the way, redirects to the Comedy Central page for Broad City).
  • I can definitely relate to Abbi’s thirst for competition. In high school, I had several teachers who would have us play a version of Jeopardy in order to review material before major exams. I ended up being banned from playing Jeaopardy in every class because I became too mean while playing.
  • “Total transparency: I spent most of the day coloring in my tummy.”
  • “How dare you lie to your wife!”
  • Ilana has accidentally worn clothing meant for dogs three (3) times.
  • I don’t think anything will ever beat Kelly Ripa playing Kelly Ripa in the Broad City Guest Star rankings for me, but Vanessa Williams playing a sexy investor/Maxxinista comes extremely close.
  • Demon Child Ruins Red Rover makes for an excellent final scene.

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