Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: single gals looking for love — among other things — in the big city. On television, the trope dates back to the days of Laverne & Shirley and continues with more contemporary entries like Sex and the City and Girls. It’s an effective, timeless story hook that has gotten a funny, druggy, tremendously weird spin thanks to the queens kweens of Comedy Central’s Broad City.
The stars of the show here are Abbi and Ilana (co-creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer), a pair of uncommonly attached besties living and playing in NYC. (Except for Ep. 6/“Philadelphia”, which finds the pair visiting Abbi’s suburban childhood home in Wayne, Pennsylvania.) Season 3 kicks off with a bit of literal toilet humor, as we get an amusing split-screen montage of Abbi and Ilana in their respective bathrooms.
While the series still engages in bizarre flights of fancy — my favorite bit involved Abbi’s alternately nightmarish and euphoric trips to the DMV in Ep. 5/“2016” — you don’t have to squint too hard to find a strong emotional through line this season. Since the start of the show, Ilana has been in an open relationship with good guy dentist Lincoln (scene-stealer Hannibal Buress). Season 3 introduces a key, gradual change in that relationship which quietly but effectively rocks Ilana, who also loses the job she barely bothered to attend. It all serves as a fantastic showcase for Glazer, who nails some truly dramatic moments in Ep. 8/“Burning Bridges.” That episode is the culmination of Ilana feeling like she’s drifting apart from the people closest to her, which could be a consequence of her aggressively carefree and irresponsible lifestyle.
Then again, that very episode also culminates with a recreation of the climactic dinner scene from Mrs. Doubtfire. (Including a guest stint from Doubtfire co-star Mara Wilson.) The homage is a perfect bit of silliness from ‘90s kids Jacobson and Glazer, who also re-create a Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit musical sequence in Ep. 3/ “Game Over.” (Whoopi Goldberg pops up for a cameo.) In fact, this season of Broad City is more reliant on eclectic, big-name guest stars than we’ve seen before.
The list includes Melissa Leo, Vanessa Williams, Tony Danza, Cynthia Nixon, Adam Levine, NBA star Blake Griffin and, um, Hillary Clinton. (That last cameo obviously hasn’t aged very well.) Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of some of Broad City’s regular supporting players, including Ilana’s gay roommate Jaime (Arturo Castro) and especially Bevers (John Gemberling) the slob boyfriend of Abbi’s perpetually missing roommate. The very notable exception is the emergence of Paul W. Downs as Trey, Abbi’s annoyingly upbeat co-worker at the gym where she works. Abbi and Trey gradually connect and Downs makes the character’s guileless advances (a corsage!) oddly endearing.
Broad City began life as a web series and counts Amy Poehler as an executive producer. Sadly, I felt this set absolutely peaked with that outstanding and emotional eighth episode. The problem is season 3 actually has 10 episodes, and this batch concludes with a tedious two-part installment that has Abbi and Ilana perpetually en route to Israel.
The show continues to score major points thanks to its specificity and authenticity. (Unlike the stars of a certain CBS sitcom, Abbi and Ilana actually feel like “2 Broke Girls.”) Season 3 pokes fun at pop-up stores, Tinder, Airbnb and more. Even more amusingly, Abbi (tentative yet randomly/insanely competitive) and Ilana (outrageous…prone to bursts of slang and handstands) are forced to impersonate each other in Ep. 2/ “Co-Op.”
Broad City: Season 3 features all 10 uncensored episodes on two discs. (The f-bombs here are most definitely not bleeped.) Disc 1 also features some deleted scenes and a collection of “Hack into Broad City” webisodes, while Disc 2 includes some extended scenes, the boxing-themed “Behind the Scenes of Broad City featurette (with “Jock Jams” star Michael Buffer), and “NOMO FOMO: An Art Show About Broads in the City”, which examines a Broad City-inspired exhibit.
The show has been renewed for a fourth AND fifth season. (Season 4 isn’t expected to debut until August…ugh.) Season 3 may have ended with a bit of a whimper, but the show displayed a willingness to Broad-en its emotional scope with this batch of episodes. That being said I’m most excited to see what random (mis)adventures Abbi and Ilana find themselves in once the series returns.