Broad City: “Witches” Season 4 episode 6 Review

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Broad City gets overtly political in another winning episode of the season.

The episode’s title and its late-October airdate originally made me think that we were about to see a very Broad City Halloween. While I still would be game for this in the future, what we got instead was so much more magical.

All season long, the show has taken shots at the current presidency and all the ill will its brought forth. We’ve seen the girls volunteering at a Planned Parenthood clinic, protest signs are adorned on Ilana’s wall, and there was that premonition from the homeless man in the season premiere. “Witches” is their most blatantly political episode yet…and it’s also one of the most hilarious. Broad City‘s take on a post-Trump world is acerbic, emotional, and totally authentic to the world of the show.

It’s safe to say that many people—especially those who live in New York—have been feeling an increasing sense of dread since Trump was elected President on November 8th of last year. I personally remember getting on the subway to work the next day and feeling like I was a part of the world’s largest funeral procession. “Witches” takes this dark cloud feeling and translates it into something slightly more specific. Namely, Ilana’s inability to orgasm.

Ilana’s fluid and brazen sexuality is part of what makes her who she is. The fact that she hasn’t been able to orgasm in months is deeply troubling to her, so she seeks out the help of a sex therapist (Marcella Lowery) to get her back on track. It’s here that Ilana realizes she hasn’t climaxed since November 8th, and that her anxiety over Trump has caused her to have “dead pussy” for almost a year.

This might seem like a silly conceit on the outset, but Broad City is smart enough to use its unique brand of humor in order to engage in the very real fears and anxieties that many of us—especially young women—feel right now. The Trump montage that Ilana visualizes in her mind is jarring, especially since his use of the word pussy feels creepy and unnerving, unlike the many times it’s been uttered on this show. Once again, this series has found a way to poignantly tap into a truth, while still making jokes like Ilana calling herself a “slutty slug” for how much she usually is able to get off. There’s not many shows that can pull off this duality, but Broad City does it with ease.

Eventually, Ilana is able to orgasm, thanks to the help of her therapist and a new montage she envisions in her head of all the women that inspire her (Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Oprah, Billie Jean King, Malala, Beyoncé, Janet Mock, and the cast of Sex and the City, to name a few). Female solidarity proves to be a powerful force, and it quickly knocks her out of her funk.

This idea of sisterhood also bleeds over into Abbi’s plotline, which isn’t directly related to Trump but is still highly engaging. Abbi decides to sell her hand-drawn greeting cards on the steps of The Met as a way to earn cash to buy a new heater. This is after she discovers her first gray hair, something she initially fears and Ilana says is a sign that she’s becoming a witch.

Abbi’s insecurities over the hair only get worse as she finds herself set up next to the craft table of an older woman (the venerable Jane Curtin) who shares one too many similarities with her. They both have the same Tupperware, went to the same school, and they essentially wear the same outfit. On top of this, Abbi also meets a dermatologist (Inside Amy Schumer‘s Greta Lee) in her 50s who looks like she’s in her 20s, and Jeremy stops by her table with his life partner and their adopted son in towe.

It’s a lot to take in for a girl who’s starting to feel old, but the upside is her cards end up being a hit. She makes a decent amount of cash and decides to visit the dermatologist to get some botox. What’s so great about this plotline is that she’s never once judged for deciding to go through with the procedure. This is merely a look inside Abbi’s brief scare over aging. She later comes to the decision that she looked fine without it, and leaves the office before she can go through round #2. If you’ve ever felt self-conscious about your physical appearance, you’ll find something to appreciate here. It’s easy to get knocked down a peg from time to time, especially in a city as competitive as New York.

In the end, Abbi and Ilana meet up to share the respective highs and lows of their days with each other. Abbi returns to her table to find its gone, and is left only with a note to come to find it at the park. It’s here where Ilana’s theory about witches is proven to be true. Everyone from her sex therapist to Abbi’s fellow craft-seller, to (eventually) the dermatologist is dancing around a bonfire in the woods. Sure, there’s a sense of witchcraft afoot, but in Broad City‘s world, a witch is really just a strong, powerful woman who enjoys life and does what she wants. In Trump’s America, the idea of this kind of witch is getting threatened every day, so it’s wholly refreshing to see this show use its comedic sensibilities to take back some of the power. Grade: A

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Abbi Jacobson made her directorial debut this week, and it was a thing of beauty.
  • There are so many fantastic lines in this episode, I could easily write another review that just lists them all. I particularly enjoyed Ilana chanting “double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble, bitch!”
  • Also, this exchange between Abbi and the dermatologist: “Botox, fillers, bat feces.” “Ew, wait…fillers?”
  • I loved Abbi’s concern about how buddy-buddy Bevers and Ilana were being towards each other.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

 

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