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Blessedly Inappropriate Statements

The very pleasing pathologies of Abbi and Ilana continue on ‘Broad City’

Sara Ivry
March 03, 2016

“I mean, who wants those chemicals so close to their orifices?”

I said that. This morning. On the subway. Out loud. To a lawyer friend. We were discussing Thinx, you know, the “period underpants,” whose ads blanket the train cars (apologies: you cannot now unknow them).

After we parted, I silently berated myself: Why didn’t I use a euphemism, or more politesse?

So close to their bodies, I could’ve said. So close to their skin. What’s wrong with, simply, “near them?” What’s wrong with me?

Last night I read Emily Nussbaum’s warning that her new New Yorker piece included spoilers to the latest episode of Broad City. For a hot minute I regretted my earlier reading of her probably astute review, even though I couldn’t remember any show details (or much of anything—sleep is scant this week). Would that apparently forgettable foreknowledge impede my viewing?

My alarm went off at 6 am again today, so I could wake and bake. I kid—though I love that phrase. I first heard it from a guy I went on a date with years ago. He wanted to meet at Mustang Sally’s, a dive blocks from Penn Station, where we watched motocross and drank beer.

Bashert it was not.

Watching Broad City so early has its advantages, though I can’t really tell you what they are besides a great feeling of accomplishment earned by 6:25. Mercifully, the “spoiler” such as it was, was no spoiler at all because this show is hardly plot driven. It barely registered that in some recess of my brain I’d already been informed that Ilana would get axed from Deals Deals Deals, the Groupon-like concern where she infrequently toiled. This ain’t no Downton. This ain’t no disco. (Another condition: #RSAS, random song association syndrome, diagnosed by my non-doctor brother.)

Who needs plot, anyway? Come for the splendid pratfalls, real and metaphorical; stay for the blessedly inappropriate statements.

“I don’t know if I want to be her or be in her,” Ilana says of her company’s sophisticated sexy investor, played by sexy, sophisticated Vanessa Williams. Having realized she’s wearing a red doggie hoodie that fails to cover her midriff, Ilana draws on her tummy in red. She uses an egg shaker and sings “I shit” in the WC. She becomes the company’s social media voice, observing, “I haven’t tweeted in 12 twinutes,” before promoting a deal on colonics with a link to a video of horse and man doing it, and doing it, and doing it well.

Abbi’s got her own issues—you can feel her embarrassment in the trainer dressing room where colleagues let it all hang out to her poorly disguised dismay. Her locker, she explains with the tragic earnestness only a jam band fan could possess, is like a “vision board.” But she’s also got a surprisingly savage competitive streak, revealed in a childhood game of red rover, which explodes her reserve and makes her boss wonder if she’s roided up. “All caps ABBI is just still in me,” she demures in resigned self-knowledge. (Multitudes, amirite?)

Spit’s the game that always released my demons. When I lost to my younger sister, I’d run to our shared bedroom and throw everything off her desk and out of her drawers in uncontainable fury. We rarely speak now of that unpleasantness.

By 6:30 this morning I was watching the episode again to absorb all nuance. The sun rose outside. I could feel through an open window that it was cold. Again. Yesterday the wind was so fierce as I walked home it felt like I had no trousers on.

Happily, Broad City seems ever filmed in summer—in carefree abandon synonymous with youth. It makes me forget I’m going to have to wear my hat still another day. It’s like one of those lights people use to fight seasonal affective disorder. It gives hope.

Just before the closing gospel number (yes, there is one!) my child came out of the bedroom, and I shut the show down (can I get a witness?). Isaiah’s carefree youth, full of play and wonder and never-ending poop jokes was just about to start anew.

Just wait until Thinx makes it into his comedic canon.

Sara Ivry is the host of Vox Tablet, Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter@saraivry.

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