Broad City: “Knockoffs” Season 2 Episode 4 Review

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Broad City‘s raunchiest episode yet is also one of its best.

I’m just going to come out and say it: there is really no other show like Broad City on television right now. I just can’t imagine another series handling plotlines involving pegging, dildo replacement, and a shiva service with this much effortless finesse. I talk a lot about how this show offers up a brilliant mix of honesty and surrealism, and “Knockoffs” is the perfect example.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? Abbi’s date with Jeremy starts off being so cutesy—their back-and-forth of “Oh my god, I’m kissing Jeremy” “Oh my god, I’m kissing Abbi,” is the stuff of romcom dreams—that you knew it was too good to be true.

The fact that Jeremy turns out to like being penetrated with a strap on is initially surprising, but, in a strange way, it gives some interesting insight into his character. Think about it. Up until now we’ve only really seen him through Abbi’s eyes, and she had some serious crush goggles on. Lots of people air on the kinkier side when it comes to sex, and it just so happens that Jeremy is one of them.

What’s so important, though, is that Broad City takes what would likely just be a gross-out joke on another series and uses it to both highlight the bond between Abbi and Ilana, and have a refreshingly frank discussion about sex and judgment. It’s also really f*cking funny when Abbi gets the dildo stuck in the door as she’s trying to leave.

But back to the important stuff. Abbi initially freaks out at the idea of having to use the strap-on with Jeremy, and so she calls her sex positive bestie Ilana for advice. Yes, it’s hilarious when Ilana is so overcome with excitement that she twerks against a wall, but the real treat comes from this quick exchange:

Abbi: I just don’t know, Ilana.

Ilana: Bitch, you know. You wouldn’t have called me if you didn’t.

It’s such a simple moment, and yet it’s one that so eloquently illustrates the bond that Abbi and Ilana share. Broad City features one of the most realistic portrayals of female friendship I’ve ever seen, and this episode was no exception. Abbi’s call to Ilana wasn’t really for advice. It was because she just needed her friend to calm her nerves before she dove into the deep end.

Then there’s the aftermath. Abbi turns out to actually enjoy pegging, but problems arise when Jeremy doesn’t want to use the replacement dildo she bought after she accidentally melted his in the dishwasher.

It would’ve been easy for the writers to turn this into a one-sided argument where Abbi was in the right. After all, Jeremy is—from my perspective, at least—freaking out over nothing. Yet, there are surprising moments throughout their fight that play in his favor. When Abbi starts stammering about how non-judgmental she is, he points out that “bragging about not judging something just means that you think it should be judged.” If Abbi’s really going to go all in with Jeremy’s personal tastes in bed, she has to be open to everything, even if that means custom-made dildos.

Still, Jeremy does get a little too angry with a girl who he’s only just started having sex with, and so it’s understandable when Abbi walks out. I was initially sad that we won’t get to see her goo goo-eyed stares at him down the hallway any longer, but, as Ilana puts it, “your crush on Jeremy was holding you back, and now you’re free.” With a show like Broad City, there’s always something better around the corner.

Speaking of Ilana, you might think that with such an eventful weekend in Abbi’s life, our other Broad would be left with a lazily assembled subplot. Well, never fear, because miss Wexler got to hang out with Mrs. Wexler, aka her mom, and boy was it magical.

Curb Your Enthusiam‘s Susie Essman was perfectly cast as Ilana’s mother Bobbi. Not only do the two look alike, but their chemistry is amazing. They’re like an R-rated version Gilmore Girls, except instead of talking about boys while eating at a small-town diner, they’re chatting about how we all have microscopic shrimp in our bodies while blindfolded in a van on the way to get knockoff handbags. Oh, and they brought their own blindfolds. Typical mother-daughter bonding.

What’s so hysterical about this plotline is that the weirder their handbag shopping trip gets—they eventually end up going down a manhole to some underground storage facility—the more nonchalant the two ladies get. You can tell they’ve done this before, and in a few short scenes Glazer and Essman effectively give their characters a rich history.

We eventually get to meet the rest of Ilana’s family too at her grandmother’s shiva. Her dad (Bob Balaban) is kind and sweet, which plays well against his wife and daughter’s more abrasive nature. Her brother (Glazer’s real-life brother Eliot) only appears briefly, but a scene with the entire family discussing the ins and outs of pegging is a moment of genius.

What’s unexpected is a moment of poignancy that arrives later. Bobbi’s knockoff handbag obsession ends up getting her and Ilana into some trouble with the cops. Their dual tantrums in the back of a police car are excellent, but even more amazing is afterward when Bobbi admits the handbags were her way of coping with her mother’s death. Comedies dealing with serious topics is often a mixed bag, but Broad City handles this plot point in a way that felt emotionally potent without becoming a “very special episode.”

Yet, I think this was a very special episode. It was special because it excelled at all the things that make this series so damn great. That, like Abbi’s weird and wonderful sexcapade, is really something to celebrate. Grade: A


Some Other Notes:

– Did anyone else notice the moment in the cold open when the guy in the wheelchair just randomly got up? I did, and I looooved it.

– “You know, I’ve been surrounded by a lot of death lately too. And sometimes death really makes me think about…………life.” Nailed it, Abbi.

– The fact that Jeremy hadn’t seen Six Feet Under should’ve been a red flag. Seriously, that show is a must-watch.

– Ilana’s co-worker Nicole complaining to the sex shop worker that her nipple clamps weren’t tight enough was just…perfection.

– “Mom, feel something!” “I’m feeling the inside of this bag, okay?”

– I watched the cop car scene twice so I could decipher the different rants going on. Ilana’s seemed to be about corporate greed, while Bobbi’s was about being put on the shit list at Zabar’s. You do NOT want to end up on their shit list.


By Mike Papirmeister

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