Broad City: “Sliding Doors” Season 4 Premiere Review

The Broads kick off season 4 by bringing us back to the beginning.

Abbi and Ilana have such an effortlessly authentic friendship, that it feels like they’ve known each other since birth. For the past three seasons, we’ve watched them try and tackle everything that NYC has thrown their way, never doubting their inseparable bond for a second.

Still, we know that these ladies haven’t actually been besties since they were babies. There have been references to Ilana’s time at NYU, and last season’s “Philadelphia” gave us a peak into Abbi’s childhood that Ilana had never seen before. Broad City has never touched upon how the two actually met, but, truthfully, it hasn’t mattered too much. It’s just a treat to get to watch them hang out.

“Sliding Doors,” however, gives us the origin story we never knew we needed. It’s hilarious and exciting, with an added twist that only a show like this could pull off. The tale of how Abbi and Ilana met splits into two parallel timelines—one in which Ilana swipes Abbi into the subway and the two go their separate ways, and the other in which the two miss their train entirely and end up spending the day together.

As the episode progresses, it seems as though the first timeline is what life would be like if Abbi and Ilana didn’t become friends, and the second is the reality that helped create the past three seasons of the show. Indeed, Timeline 1 seems like a sad, bizarro world where Ilana straightens her hair because her bitchy roommates tell her that her curls look like pubes, Bevers is fit and well-mannered, and Abbi gets her hair cut off by a serial ponytail snatcher. Timeline 2, on the other hand, features moments like Abbi getting her Oprah tattoo, her telling Ilana her hair looks better curly, and the two of them spending the day together in the carefree way that we’ve seen so many times before.

Certain things happen in both timelines, such as Ilana getting fired from her job at a coffee shop—a joke that only works because we’re four seasons in and know her character so well—and Abbi passing by a pervy guy on the street selling bubble guns. In Timeline 1, she awkwardly tries to diffuse his catcalling and ends up just further egging him on. In Timeline 2, Ilana is by her side to fully put him in his place—another reason why life appears to be so much better now that the two have met.

The true genius of this dual narrative doesn’t reveal itself until close to the episode’s end. In Timeline 2, Abbi and Ilana visit a psychic (played by Orange is the New Black‘s Constance Shulman) who tells them they’re going to die that day. The ladies shrug it off, with the exception of Abbi getting her Oprah tattoo in a YOLO moment. As they sit smoking weed and eating pizza, they hear cop car sirens. Ilana throws her bowl into traffic and the two run away…only to get hit by a bus. It’s here that we realize that Timeline 2 has actually been a little too idyllic this whole time.

Okay, so I actually realized something was up when Ilana encourages Abbi to call up her roommate and tell her that her boyfriend can’t stay with them for more than a week. She does, and it goes very smoothly. When the fantasy of Timeline 2 is shattered, it becomes clear that buff, polite Bevers wasn’t so strange after all. This was just him before he took full advantage of Abbi’s hospitality.

After the big reveal, we see Timeline 1 end with the two ladies meeting at the same spot anyway, having both just had two different, very terrible days. They sit and commiserate together and then decide to go on a walk. It might not be the beautiful beginning that we thought, but it’s beautiful—and much more real—nonetheless. Abbi and Ilana were meant to be friends, and even the world’s shittiest day couldn’t keep them apart.

Broad City is the kind of show where the best-laid plans almost always go awry, so the idea that Timeline 1 is Abbi and Ilana’s true origin story fits right in with the show’s messy, making-it-up-as-they-go disposition. As much as I enjoyed parts of Timeline 2, it wouldn’t have been as true to the heart of the show if it were the reality. New York is a place that can knock you down several times before you’ve even had lunch. But, if you have a best friend by your side, you’ll always get back on your feet. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Welcome back to our weekly coverage of Broad City! I couldn’t be more excited that this show is back, and I can’t wait to watch the season with you all.
  • Abbi and Ilana’s meet-cute (or meet-not-so-cute, I guess) takes place in 2011, and I love all the minor details that help create the setting. From the stylistic choices of their clothes—long peasant dresses over leggings—to Ilana singing along to Cee Lo’s “Forget You” on the subway, it was all perfectly accurate. Their conversation about how they now have a black president and that a woman will be next, however, cut deep.
  • In case you needed further indication as to how political this season is going to get, the homeless subway patron’s mumblings sound like “Donald Trump will be president” when they’re played in reverse, and the bus that hits Abbi and Ilana has an ad for The Apprentice on its side.
  • The running joke of Ilana not believing Abbi is also Jewish was hysterical.
  • Ilana showing up to a class where she has no idea what the subject is and then attempting to give an impromptu presentation was amazing. I particularly enjoyed her excitement when the girl she told to fake a crisis exclaims that her house fell into a sink hole (she wasn’t making this up).
  • “Do you like Four Loko?” “It kind of scares me.”

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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