TV Reviews

Broad City Review 4×01 “Sliding Doors”

Season three of Broad City, which started out amazing and had a few very strong moments (including the coupling of Abbi and her boss Trey), was largely, unfortunately forgettable upon reflection with the only memorable moments being the aforementioned ones. Far from enough to deter any fan from tuning in however, all will be pleased with the series return which is just as biting, ludicrous and heartfelt as its ever been, with the premiere promising a return to full form for season four. Rather then jump start the season by reintroducing us to the characters and showing us where they are now since the season three finale, the show instead takes a dive back into the retrospective, showing us how the two women met in the first place.

We’re split into two narratives, one where Abbi and Ilana meet by chance at a subway station and become fast friends, and one where they’re immediately separated after meeting. In the latter, they spend the day together, learning their idiosyncrasies and giving one another tips on how to overcome insecurities and, in Abbi’s case, helping her rid herself of her roommate before he becomes a live in nuisance. Their luck is too good. In the former, their days become increasingly terrible, with Ilana being picked apart by her mean girl clique roommates and Abbi having her ponytail cut off but a rogue ponytail snatcher. Their luck, much more suitably, is awful. It’s not hard to guess what’s going to happen as the episode ends with the lucky version of the characters racing across the street only to be mowed over by a bus. The real story has always been the one that when separated, their lives are all the less satisfying because of it.

In this version, the two meet after their respectful no good days and sit, moping on a park bench, commiserating over weed and pizza and becoming friends over their losses. It’s so much most true to the series and the characters while also being more heartwarming. In this version, they met and parted but met again, destined to be friends with one another, their versions of  soulmates (non-sexual to Ilana’s chagrin no doubt.) In this universe in which they reside, they make one another’s lives brighter and it’s genuinely sweet how by coming together their days are instantaneously better because of it. There is no Abbi without Ilana and vice versa.

It helps that it’s a gut bursting, laugh out loud episode that plays to the respective strengths of the actresses. Abbi has made a specific skill set out of her awkward physicality while simultaneously being 100% comfortable in her skin. The gift is that she doesn’t realize initially realize just how uncomfortable she’s coming across, which makes the dawning realization all the more hilariously satisfying. Similarly, Ilana’s abundance of confidence (ignorant at times) is a wonderful contrast so that her casual vulgarity and sensuality play off of Abbi’s more, on the surface, buttoned up nature beautifully. They’re perfect contrasts to the others insanity.

A series that understands how crucial visual humor and innovation is to the success of a comedy, the episode is instantly kinetic, thrusting us through subway with the characters at the speed any person would run in order to catch a train. We never stop moving from there as, like so many of the best episodes, we’re taking a tour of their version of New York City. The city comes alive when it isn’t just a tourist advertisement, as we see the grittier and grimier elements which inform the way Ilana and Abbi act.

It’s a wonderful start to the season which reminds us not just of the technical intrigue of the series that lies beyond the gags and chemistry between its leads, while simultaneously doubling down on said chemistry. For all their antics, theirs is a camaraderie that’s instantly comforting.

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