Broad City: “Bedbugs” Season 4 Episode 9 Review

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A stellar Broad City puts Abbi and Ilana through the NYC wringer.

It’s fitting that “Bedbugs” is the second episode of the season to be directed by Ilana Glazer, since it pairs so well with her directorial debut “Florida.” Both episodes encapsulate the love-hate relationship many people have with New York City. It’s a hell of a town, but it’s never as glamorous as you think it will be. Broad City is excellent at mining humor from specific, NYC-based woes, often cranking up the ridiculousness of them to absurd levels. For the penultimate episode of the season, the show has pulled out all the stops. Abbi and Ilana run the gamut of frustrating or terrible things that can happen to you when you live in New York, and it’s a darkly hilarious sight to behold.

In a way, the cold-open acts as a microcosm of the what’s to come for the rest of the episode. Abbi and Ilana ride around in Ilana’s grandmother’s convertible feeling on top of the world…only to quickly change their minds once they realize how impossible it is to find street parking. They eventually settle on a spot with a hydrant and hope someone tows the car away. As any New Yorker will tell you, cars are so much more trouble than they’re worth.

The rest of “Bedbugs” plays out this expectations vs. reality scenario in different ways. Abbi starts the episode down on her luck, turning in cans and plastic bottles to get a few extra bucks since she’s still out of a job. Things take an upswing when Ilana gives her an expensive new purse for a holiday present. It reinvigorates her confidence so much so that we get a highly enjoyable sequence of her walking around the city like she owns it. The best part is when she turns to see a guy on the street masturbating at her and he goes, “it’s not you, it’s because of the purse!” and she continues on her magical day.

Abbi ends up at Anthropologie, which is basically like her own personal mood board come to life. Tony winner Cynthia Erivo plays the manager who interviews her and who is very impressed by Abbi’s newfound confidence. Her new purse seems to be a good luck charm of sorts, which is why it’s only a matter of time before it’s stolen by a mugger (played by Steve Buscemi, no less). Both this scene and the scene at Anthropologie perfectly encapsulate Broad City‘s delightfully absurdist sense of humor. Glazer’s direction turns the store into a boho-chic wonderland for Abbi, highlighting the decadence of things like scented candles and rustic décor. Conversely, when Abbi is being mugged it turns into a lesson in fiscal responsibility, with the mugger scolding her for having poor financial habits once he sees her bank account balance. Both scenes are exaggerated, but that’s kind of the point. You can go from feeling like you’re in a luxurious fantasy to a harsh reality in the span of a few minutes. Welcome to New York.

Ilana’s day takes a similar route as she spends her morning spreading holiday cheer with all of the expensive gifts she’s bought. Ever since landing her job at Sushi Mambueax, she’s been spending like there’s no tomorrow…so you know that eventually tomorrow is going to come. It arrives in the form of the titular bedbugs, which is pretty much every New Yorker’s worst nightmare. The scene itself is amusingly played out like a horror movie, with Ilana finding Jaime in the shower and then the creeping realization on her face of what’s just happened. Orange is the New Black‘s Lea DeLaria has a fun cameo as their exterminator, who tracks the source to the pile of cash Ilana has been keeping under her mattress. To make matters worse, Ilana finds out that she’s been taking the bugs home from an infestation at Sushi Mambeaux and that the restaurant is closing down indefinitely (you will be missed, RuPaul).

Ilana is shunned by all of her friends and family—which, honestly, is pretty understandable—except for Abbi, who welcomes her to her apartment with open arms…and several plastic bags that she has to tape all over her body. The ending is genuinely sweet, with both girls bonding over their very shitty days. New York is a city that will kick you when you’re down, but as long as you have a best friend by your side, you’ll be just fine. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • There were a lot of great guest stars in this episode, but I have to give a special shoutout to newcomer Zephyr Ingle, who plays the cashier at Abbi’s bodega Massouma. Ingle has an endearing screen presence, and I loved Massouma’s smart, sassy demeanor. She ends up being the true hero of the episode by scaring away the mugger with a rifle, which is why you should always be nice to your bodega workers and learn their names. The running joke about Abbi thinking her name was Bo Dean was hysterical. Also love that she’s texting buddies with Ilana.
  • Abbi does eventually get a job at Anthropologie, but it’s working security. Nothing is ever easy for this girl.
  • When Abbi asks Ilana how much the bag she bought her costs, she asks if it’s as much as the blue dress. I love that this particular item has become such a recurring plot device on this show.
  • Ilana gets Lincoln a new dog, which he names Sticky after sticky rice. It’s very cute.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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