Broad City: “Kirk Steele” Season 2 Episode 8 Review

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Trey’s secret past leads to a highly engaging adventure for Abbi and Ilana.

Broad City seems determined to prove me wrong. “Mochalatta Chills” has been my least favorite episode of the season so far, and my main complaint was that it took a plot device and tried to develop it into a character.

Yet the last two weeks have shown me that this idea can work if it’s done in the right way. “Citizen Ship” again used Bevers outside of Abbi’s apartment, and it was successful. This week, “Kirk Steele” focused on another minor player in the Broad universe, and expanded on him in an amazingly hilarious way.

Perhaps it’s because they had already started planting some seeds. In “Hashtag FOMO,” we discover that Trey is more than just Abbi’s overenthusiastic, shrewdly condescending boss. He views her as a friend and he really cares about her, even if he’s hesitant to promote her to trainer.

Now, we’re learning even more about him. Ilana’s discovery of his porno past—which comes about through a hysterically bizarre masturbation sequence—is too juicy of a scoop not to use, and so she brings the information to Abbi in the hopes of helping her friend gain a leg up in her career.

What follows is unexpected, which is actually par for the course when it comes to Broad City. It would’ve been easy to just have Abbi blackmail Trey into getting what she wants, but the series takes things a step further by having her mess things up at well. The two become partners in crime, and work to covertly replace a broken mirror in the gym.

Abbi’s scenes with Trey are fantastic, highlighting both Jacobson’s and Paul Down’s comedic strengths. A confrontation in Abbi’s “office” leads to some amusing physical comedy, and the ending conclusion that sees Abbi teaching a geriatric workout is a brand of heartwarming that only this series could pull off. Trey really does care about Abbi, and watching their friendship develop was incredibly exciting.

Ilana, meanwhile, spends most of the episode helping others…in the most Ilana way possible, of course. One of her character’s funniest traits is that she’s so aggressively progressive that she often ends up being offensive in the process. She babysits Oliver, the child of a wealthy Park Slope mom (the wonderful Amy Ryan), and tasks herself with broadening his worldview.

Ilana isn’t exactly the most maternal figure, but her eye-opening tour of New York turns out to be the perfect dose of realism in Oliver’s otherwise pristine life. Still, nothing beats the moment when Ilana tells him he’s the most disadvantaged person on the subway because he’s “poor in experience.” This is immediately followed by a woman turning to both of them and saying she’s actually the most poor so she gets their seats. The perspective briefly puts Ilana in check, and the way she’s temporarily knocked down from her thrown is extremely funny.

Classism is actually a major theme of the episode, with both ladies trying to work within the system to their advantage. Abbi tries to push herself out of the “cleaner” box she’s stuck in and move up a level, and Ilana tries to dismantle the one-sided viewpoints of a child so he doesn’t end up “another useless rich old white dude.” Then there are the Pretty Woman-esque scenes at Beacon’s Closet, which turn the tables on both of them. It’s great fun to see Broad City play within New York’s multicultural landscape and economic variance. It makes for some excellent comedy, while showcasing some fundamental truths about the city they live in.

In the end, all of their hard work pays off. Abbi bonds with Trey as they replace the mirror and gets to be a trainer. Ilana leaves a strong impression on Oliver, which helps him swindle his mom into giving away some of her designer clothes so they can sell them. The fact that he does so while adorably shouting “yass Queen!” is icing on the cake.

Broad City is unconventional to say the least, but its episodes like this one that make me rethink what a TV show is capable of. If this series can take a character like Trey and give him such a terrific backstory, then I can’t wait to see what they do next. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– This only popped up onscreen for a brief moment, but the porn website names on Ilana’s computer were hilarious. My favorite was “LeaveItToMyBeaver.com.”

– Speaking of porn, Ilana’s description of what most porn scenes are like had me laughing to the point of tears. The agressive “shut up little girl! Wash my feet!” was amazing.

– Also, “Kirk Steele: Man on a Mission, A C*ck Mission.” So perfect. I can’t decide if my favorite part was him hump-riding the whale pool toy or the ending shot of him sniffing his armpit and going “mmm, I stink.” Downs totally nails the performance.

– Ilana’s four R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna. Yup, seem’s about right to me.

– The scene of Abbi separating the check mix and then doing lines of the melba toast pieces was a bit of insanity, and I loved every second of it.

– The Beacon’s Closet cashier was played to sassy perfection by Kimiko Glenn, aka Soso from Orange is the New Black.

– Amy Ryan’s delivery when she ponders whether or not homeless people get as cold as her horses was the best.

 

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

 

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