Broad City: “Mochalatta Chills” Season 2 Episode 2 Review

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The series stumbles a bit when trying to expand on its characters, but still rolls out some great laugh-out-loud moments.

Broad City‘s brand of humor feels totally fresh and original, which is part of the show’s main draw. Still, it’s easy to see where creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer get their comedic inspiration from. It has the absurdist style of Louie, a fascination with the mundane that’s very Judd Apatow (or very Workaholics), and the sprawling character landscape of The Simpsons.

This last one is especially important in “Mochalatta Chills,” as it highlights one of the shows few pratfalls. Every episode of The Simpsons is about the Simpsons, and yet there’s an ever-expanding cast of characters that always joins them. Some are fully realized such as Mr. Burns or Flanders. Others quickly pop their heads in and out of scenes such as Comic Book Guy and Dr. Nick Riviera.

Broad City is the same way. Every episode centers around Abbi and Ilana, but familiar faces continually show up in their storylines. Lincoln is an example of someone heavily involved in the broads’ daily lives, but there are others—such as Abbi’s hunky neighbor Jeremy or Ilana’s sad boss Derek—who make brief, but noteworthy appearances.

The reason this works so well on The Simpsons is because that show knows how to balance its characters’ screen time. Comic Book Guy isn’t so much a character as he is a comedic plot device, which is why he’s never present for more than a few scenes each episode. He isn’t as richly developed as Mr. Burns, so devoting an entire episode or a backstory to him would likely prove to be a fruitless effort.

This brings me to Bevers. Though he’s appeared in almost every episode of Broad City, he’s not a fully realized character either. Think about it. What do we know about him besides the fact that he’s the boyfriend of Abbi’s always-absent roommate, and he’s really, really gross? There’s no real depth to his persona other than to make Abbi—and us, by proxy—squirm with disgust.

“Mochalatta Chills” was host to a slew of hilarious moments, but it ran into dangerous territory when it tried to give Bevers more to do than sit in his own filth on Abbi’s couch. Once Abbi was forced to train him at her gym, things began to drag. The effect of his gross-out humor was wearing thin because, when you get down to it, it’s pretty much a one-off joke that only works in short scenes, such as the ones he was featured in in the premiere. Bevers can really only be taken in small doses, and when there’s too much of him he stops being funny and starts becoming a nuisance.

Had Bevers’ involvement in the episode ended with Abbi’s fantastic naked dance to “Edge of Glory,” everything would’ve been fine. What’s strange is that in an episode where one side-character was overused, others were used for the perfect amount of time. Abbi’s constantly upbeat boss Trey gets some great lines in as he helps her train. My favorite has to be, “I’ve been in such a funk lately, cause, you know…I donated $14,000 to Zach Braff’s kickstarter.”

Meanwhile, Ilana’s plotline allows for Derek to have a small solo scene with this week’s best foul-mouthed, pop culture-referencing rant: “Nice Razor scooter, pencil d*ck…you aborted Macklemore motherf*cker…lookin’ like Albert Knobbs.” What’s so great about this moment is that Derek is instantly brought back up at the end when Ilana mentions how hot she thinks Albert Knobbs is. This is the right way to use minor characters on a comedy show. Bring them in just enough so their presence can be used for some laughs, but don’t let them overshadow the leads.

Speaking of which, it’s high time we switched gears to talk about Abbi and Ilana. The two ladies both try to get a leg up in their careers this week, and while Abbi’s journey is unfortunately tainted by Bevers, Ilana’s is hilariously fascinating.

After being given an ultimatum to get some deals at her job by the end of the day, Ilana quickly transforms herself into a ruthless workhorse. Well, a ruthless workhorse who hires unpaid interns to do her job for her. Still, much like how fun it is to see Abbi’s wilder, more unhinged side, it’s enjoyable to watch the epically lazy Ilana be semi-productive for a change. Glazer handles her character’s rise up the corporate ladder with her usual reckless abandon, making scenes like her interviews with the various interns and a power-lunch with Abbi a real treat to watch.

I do think the joke of equating unpaid internships to slave labor was hit a little too on the nose when one of them starts to sing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” but the moment is saved when that same intern utters the line, “I can’t get paid work! I just graduated from Cornell with a Business Degree. That’s the worst Ivy!” Not only is this a callback to the Upper East Side scene in last season’s “Stolen Phone,” but its such a wonderfully typical Broad City line, that I couldn’t help but laugh.

So yes, Bevers is the worst and having too much of him may be one of the worst things this show can do. But I think Broad City is far from hitting a sophomore slump. It’s still pretty brilliant, it just needs to work out some kinks. Grade: B+


Some Other Notes:

– Seriously though, how great was the “Edge of Glory” dance sequence? I love it whenever the show films in a music video-style, and the whole concept is both a realistic and extreme reaction to how you feel when your roommates are out of the apartment. Genius.

– “I don’t know if I would call it a white power suit…especially after you, you
know, just talked about that ethnic smorgasbord of unpaid workers you have.”

– Yes, ladies and gents, that was the voice of Chris Rock in the cold open’s horrib(ly good) fake werewolf movie.

– “I’m going to see you give birth?” “B*tch, who else would be my focal point?” Oh Abbi and Ilana, please never change.



By Mike Papirmeister

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