Ever been on like, a family vacation or something and you realizing you should be having fun, but you just…. aren’t? Like, all the pieces for fun are in place, you know that fun should be arriving any second now, but somehow you’re just not feeling it. This season of Broad City has felt like that.
Abbi and Ilana are good writers and good performers. They really, really know what they’re doing, and at this point they’re very polished. Every episode this season has been a testament to their talent, but for a reason I’m still trying to nail down, I’ve been pretty bored.
“Jews on a Plane” is emblematic of both their strengths and weaknesses. While it’s funny a lot of the time, especially when the guest stars are given time to shine, a lot of it seems like a retread. Abbi has something unlucky happen to her and Ilana is horny. We have lived through three seasons of this, come on now.
Compared to last episode, “Jews on a Plane” has a lot more forward motion and purpose. It doesn’t just feel like the conclusion of a two parter, but its own story, whereas “Getting There” seemed like it was aimlessly reaching for some kind of destination. It’s just that we’ve gotten to a lot of the same places we always have. On their way to Israel, Ilana’s biggest concern is finding someone to fuck and Abbi stumbles into a series of personal embarrassments one after the other. What’s a little frustrating is that both of these characters have come close to changing, ever so slightly. I don’t want them to be nicer exactly, but after Abbi broke Trey’s heart and Lincoln broke up with Ilana, I do expect them to, like, feel something about that. Anything. Even though they repeatedly say they’re traveling to Israel for a spiritual awakening, these characters are in stasis. There are ways to have horrible people become, somehow, even more horrible, like in It’s Always Sunny and Peep Show, but Broad City isn’t quite willing to admit that Abbi and Ilana are kind of unfeeling, even if the characters never change or learn from emotional experiences. We’re supposed to like them and relate to them, even if watching them act like this feels bizarre.
On the other hand, all of the guest stars this episode were amazing. All of them! Should we all be so privileged to have Tracee Ellis Ross appear on our shows! The subplot between the two flight attendants was delightful, and I think really showed it’s not that Broad City isn’t out of ideas—just out of ideas for Abbi and Ilana.
I tend to err on the side of caution with really good TV. After being so utterly betrayed by shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or season 2 of Sleepy Hollow, I’d prefer a perfect season of television than watching a show slowly die. I’d say that I hope that Broad City gets kindly put out to pasture after this season so Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer can pursue other projects, but it got renewed for two more seasons. So, good for them, I guess. They’re still getting paid. Yas, kween.
Gita Jackson is Paste’s assistant comedy editor.