‘Broad City’ Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: “Kirk Steele”

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Season 2 of Broad City has had varied success bringing other characters into the spotlight. While Bevers invading Abbi’s gym was a rare misstep, Trey’s increased presence has been very welcome, mostly because of Paul Downs’ commitment to being just as crazy and gung-ho in his approach as Jacobson and Glazer. This week’s “Kirk Steele” involves a lot of Trey, digging into his past while commenting on his present, and it all works to complement Abbi and Ilana’s general escapades, rather than take away from them.

In another amazing cold open, we see Ilana preparing for a masturbation session — putting on lipstick, displaying a picture of Abbi (the running joke about her crush on Abbi will never get old), and setting up a mirror so she can watch herself — when she’s abruptly taken out of the moment when she spots Trey as a porn star named Kirk Steele (and he thanks you for calling him a star). She calls Abbi to meet up (“What coffee shop? What time?” Abbi wonders to herself as Ilana quickly hangs up without providing details), and it’s great timing because Abbi is in desperate need of cheering up: She just failed to get a job putting wristbands on people outside of a bar, a job that any idiot could do (“I’m a huge fucking idiot!” she exclaims as a way to sell herself during the interview).

At the coffee shop, Ilana brings along Oliver, the adorable little rich boy that she’s babysitting — no, mentoring, in order to mold him and prevent him from going to Yale, then Yale Law, and then killing a stripper. She doesn’t want Oliver to turn into “another rich, useless, old white man.” As Oliver stands guard over her computer’s power cord, Ilana shows her findings to a gleeful Abbi.

At work, Abbi takes advantage of Ilana’s discovery and refuses to do work, even flipping off Trey, before hinting that she knows of his past. They meet in her “office” (a cramped maintenance closet; the claustrophobia is almost tangible thanks to the directing). Abbi wants one thing out of Trey: to teach an exercise class. I love this about Abbi, that she doesn’t go for huge blackmail or anything but just wants to do what she’s wanted to do from day one at the job: teach, rather than clean. Abbi knows she will likely be stuck working at the gym for an excruciatingly long time (what are your twenties for, if not working shit jobs for barely any money?) and wants to at least make that job a tiny bit better. But her first class goes predictably awry — though I knew that mirror would shatter, I still laughed when it actually happened — and now Abbi and Trey are deep into trying to raise $1400 to fix a mirror and save both of their asses (Abbi is not a license trainer). When Abbi exclaims that she doesn’t have $700 laying around, Trey responds, “Do you have a webcam?”

But Abbi’s not about to do porn and instead tries to brainstorm other ways to raise money, finally settling on selling her art and her clothes. This leads to one of the most stressful scenes to watch, set at Beacon’s Closet, as a snotty employee judges all of her Abbi’s clothing and gives her only $20 cash (or $195 store credit!). It’s so deliciously true to life if you’ve ever tried to donate to one of those faux-bougie Brooklyn thrift stores who pay you pennies and then mark everything up for other shoppers. As for her art (drawings of what Abbi imagines are various celebrities’ favorite foods), she only gets a measly $2.

In a clever twist, it’s not Abbi or Ilana who comes up with a last minute plan to get the money and fix all of her troubles but it’s little Oliver, who has clearly learned a lot from trailing behind Ilana all day, trying on high heels, and giving up his subway seat to a woman poorer than he. In a stroke of genius, Oliver sweetly convinces his mother to give her old clothes to Ilana to donate to thrift stores, rather than going with his mother’s usual plan of donating clothes to horses who get cold in the winter. At first, Ilana complains about having to lug all the clothes but then Oliver tells her that the plan is to bring them back to the thrift store. After a wonderful, triumphant slow-motion shot of the two of the proudly returning to Beacon’s, they make the money and Abbi can fix the mirror.

But the most triumphant moment of all is that Abbi continues to be a trainer — a legitimate one, even! — in some capacity at the gym, with just one class for senior citizens. But the look of pride on her face when she reveals her “Trainer” shirt is beautiful, and just the small victory that she needs.