Broad City: “Just the Tips” Season 4 Episode 3 Review

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A middling episode sees Abbi and Ilana deal with different relationships.

It’s a testament to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s natural comedic chemistry that a mediocre episode of Broad City still has plenty of entertainment value. Whenever this show does have a misstep, however, it’s usually when the plot gets in the way of the characters. Jacobson and Glazer have such a strong handle on their TV alter-egos that it feels like we know them in real life. So when either of them is saddled with a narrative that feels like its more or less servicing a punch line, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Such is the case with Abbi is this week, as she spends almost all of “Just the Tips” in a dreamy haze over her new paramedic “boyfriend” Mike. If you couldn’t guess from the air quotes, he’s not actually her boyfriend because they’ve only been dating for six days. Still, this doesn’t stop Abbi from shouting about her new relationship from the rooftops, even going so far as to dish with Bevers after he jumps in her bed to ask for details.

I totally get the impulse here. After Trey’s comment last week that Abbi isn’t a relationship person, it makes sense that she’d go full steam ahead with proving him wrong. Still, this joke’s legs can only go so far, and its outcome is clear almost immediately. Things come crashing down when Abbi tries to give a crying woman (Younger‘s Miriam Shor) relationship advice, only to have her laugh in her face once she realizes how green Abbi’s “relationship” actually is. “You’re basically sleeping with a stranger,” she scoffs, and we can’t help but sigh in agreement.

What’s really puzzling is Abbi’s reaction once she’s called out on her shit. During the walk from from a party she and Ilana attend—more on that in a little—she calls Mike to try and slow things down, only to completely pump the breaks when he reveals he never thought they were exclusive and has been sleeping with other people. I’ve always loved Abbi’s romantic, and possibly naïve, outlook on love, but even she can’t be this ridiculous.

I don’t see why she wouldn’t continue things with Mike, just at a much slower pace. In the episode’s end tag, she declares she’s just going to work on herself for a while, which is perfectly fine. I just feel like the show could’ve given her a new avenue to go down instead of making her the butt of a joke. In season 1, I probably would’ve accepted this, but 4 seasons in, I’m disappointed that the show brought up a potentially interesting plotline and shut it down so quickly.

Luckily, this episode’s saving grace is Ilana, who also experiences some relationship drama when she runs into her ex Lincoln at a party. Up until this point, Ilana spends the day pampering herself because she wants to “flaunt her body and her wealth” after working a ton of double shifts at the restaurant. She gets acrylic claw nails. She buys a sexy leotard to wear—and hilariously asks her brother to give her opinions on it—along with a creamsicle-orange Nicki Minaj wig. Seeing a confident Ilana is always a hoot, especially when she’s in party mode. Ilana with money turns out to be just like regular Ilana, just with more handing people $20 bills.

What really elevates this plotline, though, is when her train is derailed as soon as she realizes that the party she randomly RSVP’d to is being hosted by Lincoln’s friend. Of course, this means Lincoln is also there and, more importantly, Lincoln’s new girlfriend. It would’ve been easy, and still pretty fun, to have Ilana play it cool throughout the whole interaction, but instead she stress shits in her leotard and immediately excuses herself to the bathroom.

Last season’s excellent “Burning Bridges” was the first episode to show a more vulnerable side to Ilana as she freaked out about Lincoln was ending things and Abbi keeping a secret from her.  Glazer does stressed out quite well, and I think this adds an interesting new layer to her character as a whole.

Abbi isn’t able to help Ilana this time since she’s too busy pretending to be a relationship guru, but Lincoln comes to the rescue in a disarmingly poignant moment. He knew right away that Ilana had shit herself, and his casualness about the whole situation helps to calm her down and even make her smile. Only a show like Broad City could be heartwarming while still talking about someone shitting themselves. In “Burning Bridges,” Ilana seems most upset that Lincoln doesn’t want to be friends because he says they were never really friends in the first place. Hopefully this episode allows them to finally develop a friendship, if only because Hannibal Buress is such a welcome presence on the show.

Broad City often relishes in its loose, non-serialized story structure, mainly because it allows its characters to go insane places and then hit the reset button for next week. Yet, the times the show has had somewhat of a continuing plot thread have usually broken some intriguing new ground. “Just the Tips” continues this trend with Ilana’s and Lincoln, but comes up short with Abbi because her new development wasn’t really one at all. I’m still interested in Abbi’s ever-changing romantic interests, just as long as they don’t keep turning out to be a punchline. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Jaime has a brief subplot this week about deciding whether or not to get circumcised. I couldn’t really tell whether the show was trying to be a case for or against circumcision, but it was funny nonetheless.
  • More overtly political was the episode’s brilliant cold opener in which Abbi and Ilana save a man choking on his sandwich in Gramercy Park. Between that and the protest posters on Ilana’s wall behind her bed, I love that this season is not backing down on its ideals.
  • Lincoln saying “there’s only one Ilana Wexler” while helping her get out of her poop leotard solidified how great the show is able to balance humor and sweetness simultaneously.
  • There’s a lot of physical comedy involving Ilana’s new nails, but the best moment is when she uses them as skewers to take several cheese cubes at once.
  • Garol makes a brief cameo in the sex shop where Ilana buys her leotard, and it’s amazing.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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