Broad City: “House Sitting” Season 4 Episode 8 Review

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A lavish apartment brings the whole gang together for a roller coaster of emotions.

Opulence means something entirely different in New York than it does in other parts of the country. Sure, a mansions and private jets are considered elite no matter where you are, but certain things that are elsewhere considered standard are often considered a luxury in the Big Apple.

This couldn’t be more true of an in-unit washer/dryer. Most suburban homes come with them, or at least the space to easily put them in. In NYC, landing an apartment that has one is akin to finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This is made hilariously clear in “House Sitting,” which sees Abbi and Ilana looking after the lavish, multi-story apartment of the family whose child Ilana babysits. Amy Ryan briefly reprises her guest role as his mother, making an amusing joke about taking an Uber helicopter to the Hamptons and not realizing that they also have a car service.

Once she and her son leave, Abbi and Ilana enter laundry heaven. Yes, the house has a looming spiral staircase and a pristine bathroom with a bidet, but the washer and dryer are the pièce de résistance. “House Sitting” is another episode that was directed by Jacobson, and her focus on the machines is infectious. Several instances throughout the half-hour feature tightly edited montages of characters washing their clothes. In any other setting, this would be mundane, but here it feels like a sacred ritual.

Of course, it isn’t long before Abbi and Ilana decide to spread the wealth and invite some guests over. Jaime stops by to do a load and informs everyone that his circumcision went well, but now he can’t get hard for another few days. Of course, he ends up running into every temptation possible. This plotline is pretty minor compared to everything else that happens, but it works because Arturo Castro is so earnest in his delivery.  The more stressed out he gets about getting an erection, the funnier it is.

Abbi’s more central plotline involves her matching with her old English teacher Richard (Mike Birbiglia) on Bumble and inviting him over. At first Abbi is nervous about being with a former authority figure, but with Ilana’s encouragement she goes for it. Things get steamy when they decide to delve into student-teacher role play, but then Richard takes things a step too far when he attempts to pull back Abbi’s skin in order to make her look younger. Abbi, naturally, shuts things down.

This plotline certainly has its moments—there are several scenes in which Richard can’t help but act like a teacher, correcting Abbi’s grammar or ordering her into a single file line—but it ends up being more creepy than funny. Broad City is a sex-positive show, and I would never expect it to kink-shame any sort of role playing scenario or fantasy, but there are one too many jokes about teachers jerking off to their students that don’t really land.

Also, Abbi is justified in being freaked out by Richard’s admission that he used to think about her when she was in high school. She was underage! Ilana’s wholehearted endorsement of the situation makes sense on the surface—she’s always pushing Abbi to expand her sexual boundaries. Yet, it feels off-putting when you look at it as a whole. Both characters involved are above the age of consent, but there’s a predatory undertone that’s more than a little unnerving.

Ultimately, I think this plotline suffers from poor timing. Perhaps if this episode had aired a year ago, we all would have laughed it off. But with more and more stories of sexual assault, many of them involving minors, making headlines every day, it’s hard not to draw some parallels.

Luckily, Ilana’s plotlne fares much better. Her reunion with Lincoln last week felt abrupt, especially after her purge of all of his social media. “House Sitting” puts their relationship on an even faster track. Ilana decides to define Lincoln as her boyfriend and then the two go through all the stages of courtship to being in a settled relationship within the span of a few hours. This is what a good laundry machine and a bidet will do to you.

This sped-up version of their dating timeline surprisingly works, especially thanks to Glazer and Hannibal Buress’ natural chemistry with each other. By the time things grow “stale,” the two are essentially an old married couple. As a result, they have a serious talk about where they want their relationship to go.

Like a lot of Ilana and Lincoln’s conversations, the dialogue here is silly while still managing to evoke genuine pathos out of their love for each other. Lincoln compares marriage to winning a lifetime supply of Doritos, and it’s strangely sweet. These two have never been traditional about their pairing, so it only makes sense that they’d freak out after a day of playing house. Still, their feelings for each other are real, so they decide to check in with each other every year to see if they’r still into each other—kind of like a phone contract.

In the end, the washer and dryer end up being the catalyst to bring everyone back together again. The machine ends up overheating because it was made for only finer garments and the gang has been loading it up with cheap cotton (this comes from the wonderfully droll firefighter who comes to the rescue). Abbi, Ilana, Lincoln, Jaime, and Richard are all forced to go outside and their day of moonlighting as upper crust Manhattanites is over.

“House Sitting” is another solid entry in Broad City‘s fourth season. Despite Abbi’s troubling plotline, the show still managed to progress things in an exciting way for Ilana and Lincoln. If ever there was a case for two crazy kids to get back together, this is certainly it. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Other instances of Jacobson’s delightful direction: the seamless switch-off of Abbi and Ilana using the bidet while having a conversation; the repeated montage of characters running up the giant spiral staircase, usually in a moment of stress.
  • Abbi and Ilana’s evening gowns are gorgeous. Big fan of Ilana’s headdress.
  • Ilana and Lincoln’s fart dancing is utterly ridiculous, but it suits them both so well.
  • Lincoln literally saying “current events” while reading a newspaper in bed made me laugh out loud.
  • I love the running joke this season of Abbi not reading books.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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