‘Broad City’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap: “Fattest Asses”

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There is a frenetic pace to Broad City that helps propel the show forward in whichever direction it feels like exploring that week. Broad City likes to keep these characters on their feet, quite literally, which helps to keep the momentum going. Even when Abbi and Ilana are just talking to each other, they are constantly in motion: walking down the sidewalk, standing on the subway, waiting in a store line. The cold open in “Fattest Asses” finds Abbi laying still on a waxing table but it even manages to be an energetic scene through Ilana, who isn’t even on the screen. As Abbi listens to a series of voicemails from Ilana, you can clearly picture her running around on city streets constantly updating her best friend on her findings. She has an idea for an invention, she found a new couch (scratch that, the couch is covered in blood), she wants them to adopt turtle siblings, and so on. From there, the episode just keeps building.

Both Ilana and Abbi have found themselves in a career rut. When her Slide and Glide exercise teacher goes missing, Abbi attempts to become a substitute but is nice enough to let another classmate, Janis, take over. Her boss later congratulates Janis on taking initiative and offers her an official position. He then asks Abbi to clean up an unprecedented pube situation in the locker room — on her day off. It’s another crushing blow for Abbi, who is growing increasingly sick of her job and wants desperately to become an actual trainer instead of working on the janitorial staff. She is sick of being nice and wants to do something about it.

Ilana is also having problems at work but, because this is Ilana, her problem is mostly the fact that she’s at work in the first place. Ilana isn’t built for an office job (or for any job, really). She doesn’t know how to follow instructions, she can’t keep up with the high demand of eight emails a day (and refuses to change her personal email, ilanawexler@mindmyvagina.com), and wants to transfer out of sales. Her boss Derek (the always lovable Chris Gethard) frustratedly informs her that “corporate morale is not a department” and a “violently high” Ilana bails for the day.

Both are faced with disappointments and disillusionment, worried about getting older and wasting their lives. Both need to escape. Fortunately, Ilana’s former roommate Parker is throwing a Soho rooftop party where they can both blow off some steam. Cue the dressing room montage … that lasts about five seconds because Abbi buys the first dress she tries on. It manages to be a perfect parody while being hilariously abrupt, showcasing yet another skill from the Broad City writers. The party itself is a flawless sendup of the sort of ridiculous Manhattan parties that hide behind a cause. It’s a party “for change” where snacks are accompanied by facts about starving children and portions of drink sales go to whichever tsunami happens next. But there are still sketchy DJs and coke in bathroom stalls.

One of the keys to comedy is escalation and “Fattest Asses” does this exceptionally well, too. Abbi sick of being Abbi so when she kicks open a stall door in the men’s room (I love that she bypasses the women’s room because yep, I’ve definitely done that when the line was too long) and spots a pale, horrified guy doing cocaine, she happily decides to join. It’s a wonderful escalation: Abbi scorned at her gym, Abbi doing a bit of coke, Abbi suddenly letting strangers do shots out of body parts and dancing wildly.

Meanwhile, Ilana has found two DJs at the party, funny and creepy weirdos played by Jason Mantzoukas and Matt Jones (best known as Badger from Breaking Bad) who are willing to leave the party because, after all, their entire DJ responsibilities consist of putting a playlist on shuffle. All of the comedians that pop up as guest stars are always on. It’s a nice testament to the confidence that everyone has in creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Everyone on the show is willing to do whatever the show wants them to and they are willing to do it at their best.

From there, “Fattest Asses” takes on two other shitty aspects of living in New York City: terrible eight-floor walk-ups (and pretending that you aren’t winded afterward) and extremely awkward hook-up sessions with strangers. The DJs aren’t the best guys to go home with (DJs rarely are). One talks too much about his deceased grandfather’s sweater, the other proudly shows off the Ying-Yang sticker on his bedroom door (definitely a warning sign).

Mantzoukas and Jones play the kind of sketchy roommates who are too close, who have clearly spent time planning out their sex strategies to the point where they share the same lines and both, individually, convince the girls to first go up on the roof and then into the shower. The ultimate goal is to get them into an orgy (to go with the series (and web series) running gag, Ilana’s a bit on board with this idea but Abbi is not) and the DJ roommates obviously fail. To add one final bit of insult to injury, Abbi and Ilana learn that there was an elevator the entire time.

The episode ends with a typical Broad City scene: Abbi and Ilana dissecting the night’s events — and discussing the possibility of an orgy — while soaking wet and walking home. It may be a walk of shame but it keeps them in motion, right through to the end of the night.