‘Broad City’ Season 1 Episode 4 Recap: “The Lockout”

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Broad City is only four episodes into its first season but it’s already my new favorite show. That’s a strong declaration from someone like me, someone who watches an embarrassing amount of television and who falls for a new show approximately every ten minutes. Yet Broad City is the show that I look forward to the most. It’s the one that I talk about constantly to anyone who will listen regardless of whether or not they want to join the conversation. It’s a special show, not just because I think it’s the first series to really nail that feeling of being young in a big city but because it’s been confident from the very first minute and it’s been consistently hilarious. It hasn’t just elicited a few chuckles, but real howling laughter that leaves me in tears.

The success of Broad City is the sum of two things. First, there is the energetic rapport between the two leads: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the two best friends who created the original web series. Their friendship is wonderful, flawed, funny, and honest. If Broad City were nothing but them shooting the shit all day, discussing which breed of dogs they would be or which celebrity they’d rather have go down on them, I would still watch the show. I would still love the show.

Second, Broad City does wonders with low stakes and relatable storylines. It’s unfair to compare Broad City to Girls (or even 2 Broke Girls) because each series has unique characters and has a set approach to how they want to portray twentysomething city living. Girls likes the bigger arcs: the huge relationship problems, the career dilemmas, marriage, and rehab—and it works for the show (and for its loyal fans). Broad City is content to hang out in the smaller moments, like the frustrating task of fetching a package from a UPS facility or, in the case of “The Lockout,” dealing with cockroaches and losing your keys. And that definitely works for this show and is why I gravitate more toward it than anything else currently on television.

Abbi and Ilana can’t concern themselves with book deals or opening a cupcake shop because they’re too busy just trying to scrounge up enough money (or office supply gift cards) to buy weed. Living in New York City—or anywhere, really—when you’re young and broke and scrubbing toilets can be fun but it’s mostly terrifying. Sometimes you can’t focus on the overall, bigger picture because it’s daunting enough to try and make it back to your bed in one piece every night.

“The Lockout” isn’t the best of the series’ run so far but it’s still a very strong and funny episode, and a good indication that Broad City knows what it’s doing. After setting off a bug bomb in her apartment, Abbi plans to crash with Ilana but the two quickly realize that Ilana can’t find her keys. From there the two become temporarily homeless (like Ben Affleck did that one night for charity) and everything just keeps piling on. The locksmith who arrives to help them is so creepy and disgusting that Ilana lies about her apartment number and he picks the lock for a neighbor’s apartment, instead. Of course, the neighbors arrive and are shocked to find two strangers in their living room (it’s New York; no one knows their neighbors!) and mace both of them.

“The Lockout” really goes for the broad gags and, for the most part, it works. Abbi pukes on the floor after being maced and awkwardly apologizes. The two girls stand on a subway platform pouring water on their faces to soothe the burning. They also carry around Bed, Bath, and Beyond bags and a tall closet pole for the entire episode—my favorite bit of physical comedy is when two strangers mistake the closet pole for a subway pole and all three topple down when the train lurches. Kudos to whoever came up with that gag because it’s brilliant. Later, at the gym/her job, Abbi explains her red face as being the result of a parkour accident (“I did a backflip off of a car and I fell right into a fire hydrant”) and her perpetually positive and fitness-obsessed boss has Abbi show him some of the parkour moves. Jacobson awkwardly posing on fire hydrants and rolling over car hoods is nothing short of amazing.

Aside from that, the big story in “The Lockout” is that Abbi has to get to her gallery opening that night—though it’s later revealed that the gallery is a sandwich shop (but after 8, they make people put their laptops away). Abbi and Ilana get into an actual argument but there is no lasting damage. It’s the best kind of argument between friends: it’s not specifically over anything except just general frustration and it is easily resolved by an “I’m sorry I was a bitch.” I’m glad the show doesn’t make them sit down and discuss their feelings for hours. Though there is a sweet scene that has Ilana slightly break down to her friends-with-benefits Lincoln (Hannibal Buress). “I’m like, a dumbass. I can’t function,” she admits. Lincoln reassures her, “Nobody’s perfect. I’m not a perfect dentist. I eat candy all the time.” The only pairing on Broad City that can almost compete with Ilana and Abbi is Ilana and Lincoln. Buress has always been a fantastic comedian but he’s particularly great on Broad City, effortlessly landing every line, even when he’s just talking about the Hardy Boys. Really, I could write a book about his perfect delivery.

Ultimately, Abbi and Ilana fail to make it to their own beds at the end of the night but they at least get to crash with Lincoln, and that’s enough of a victory. “The Lockout” continues the streak that Broad City has been on and I imagine this streak is going to end anytime soon.