Broad City: “Philadelphia” Season 3 Episode 6 Review

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When you take the broads out of New York City…shenanigans still ensue.

Like many shows that take place in The Big Apple, Broad City allows its setting to be just as large and wild of a character as any of the featured cast members on the show. Relocating the ladies to the tame suburbs of Wayne, Pennsylvania—where Abbi, and the real-life Abbi Jacobson, were born—was a risky, but ultimately exciting choice. After learning that the two were heading to Abbi’s childhood home, I couldn’t help but think of the phenomenal Girls episode “The Return,” from its first season.

In that episode, Hannah heads home for her parents anniversary, only to find herself making the same dysfunctional decisions that she did in New York. “Philadelphia” works the same way. Abbi and Ilana leave their beloved city behind, only to fall prey to the same madcap adventures that they usually partake in. In fact, if there’s any downside about this episode, it’s that it’s almost too similar to its NYC counterparts. Broad City is able to tap into the weird, wonderful heartbeat of its location so well, that I was a bit disappointed that Abbi’s home life wasn’t made to feel more unique. Aside from a few Will Smith references, this episode could’ve happened in pretty much any American suburb.

Still, what did work, worked very well. What’s interesting about this episode is that it dealt with something deeper than, say, “Abbi and Ilana’s quest for the perfect brunch spot.” Yes, the story does revolve around the singular task, but really it honed in on the question of whether or not Abbi was a good person. Much like the show’s recent attempts to call Ilana out on her selfishness, this is an episode that points to some of Abbi’s character flaws, and it’s equally as fascinating.

The central plot revolves around Abbi realizing that she never turned in the money she had raised for a high school classmate who’d been in an accident. In an attempt to atone for her sins, she sets out to find her classmate Alice and give her the cash she accidentally hoarded. From the moment she and Ilana are forced to spend some of it on bowling shoes, however, it becomes clear that the episode is going to take a circuitous route to this righted wrong. As more problems arise, more cash is spent, allowing Broad City‘s signature brand of comedy to shine through.

While tagging along with her bestie, Ilana embarks on one of Broad City‘s most bizarre plotlines, which is certainly saying something. After finding a rare commemorative JonBenet Ramsey Beanie Baby amongst Abbi’s childhood belongings, she quickly begins to try and sell it to the highest bidder. I can’t really decide what’s stranger, the fact that a Beanie Baby based on a dead girl exists in this universe, or the fact that Ilana immediately becomes so savvy about selling it. The jokes here are sharp, but they only work depending on how sensitive you are to highly-publicized child murders that happened several years ago. Yet, the story is gripping nonetheless.

Despite its ridiculousness, however, this subplot works as an important foil to Abbi’s journey. Throughout the episode, she tries desperately to prove how good of a person she is, only to come up short both on timing and finances when she finally finds Alice—who, by the way, is now a rich and gorgeous supermodel. Ilana, meanwhile, does something that’s pretty callous during the course of “Philadelphia,” only to hand over the Beanie Baby, and its immense worth, in order to stick up for her best friend.

So, are either of these ladies truly good people? The episode doesn’t provide a clear answer. It seems that they both are imperfect, but they’re becoming more and more aware of their flaws as time goes on. That, my friends, is called maturation, which is one of the riskiest and most exciting choices Broad City can make. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • I didn’t really know where else to put this, but Tony Danza as Abbi’s dad was absolutely delightful. His unabashed love for his daughter, and his genuine excitement at her being home was very charming. Their impromptu dance number during the closing credits was adorable.
  • Also, OF COURSE, they have an overly long handshake. I love it!
  • Things we learned about Abbi as a child ranked from least confusing to most confusing: She used to play in the trash (?), she used to have dreadlocks (??), and the Friends character that she had a crush on was Ross (????????).
  • Ilana’s reaction to Abbi driving a Jeep Wrangler: “You are SUCH a goy for driving this car. I want a DNA test.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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