There were two really, really incredible moments in this episode of Broad City. In one, the office of Deals, Deals, Deals!, the start-up that Ilana works at, breaks into the medley from The Sister Act, complete with Whoopi Goldberg. In the other, Abbi and Ilana look up a youtube video—“Demon Child Ruins Red Rover”—and watch a young Abbi bite another child and then take off into the woods.
But otherwise? The episode felt a little stilted. It didn’t quite vibe for me. The jokes were either too telegraphed or set up and then not delivered on. While the show still has that extremely honest, earnest tone, it felt super rough around the edges here.
In “Game Over,” Abbi is tasked with attending her first Soulstice Games, the employee competition at the fitness club she works at, and Ilana is made social media manager for Deals, Deals, Deals! Given Ilana’s level of maturity and Abbi’s aggressiveness when it comes to competition, this seems golden. Hell, I’m a former social media manager who is secretly super aggressive—I was all on board.
I think a large part of the problem was that this was essentially a workplace comedy bottle episode. If Broad City is going to go there, it really has to push to find a new place to derive humor from. Workplace comedies are so ubiquitous that their tropes feel stale as hell. What’s often refreshing about Broad City is that it takes the normal and makes it absurd—their approach to this episode felt sub-Workaholics.
It was just normal, it was normal as fuck. Ilana wants to fuck the hot investor? Alright! Abbi is afraid of alienating her co-workers with her aggressiveness? I feel like I have seen that before! Even the mild twist, that Abbi’s anger problem makes her fit in more at a fitness club, wasn’t surprising, enlightening, creative. Like, yeah, sure, of course being really competitive would make sense at a fitness club. It’s a fitness club. Those dudes are fucking cut.
“Normal” should be verboten at Broad City—I don’t think I should be waiting around for something exciting to happen. And yet, here I was, not quite bored, not quite laughing.
When we got to the Sister Act medley, I was so confused that I had to second guess whether it was funny or if I was just relieved. The sequence goes on a little long, and while they do cut out a large middle portion of the song, it felt a little like padding. At the same time, it’s constructed so elegantly. It slides into the song and lets you think it will go one way, and then swerves hard into a full on choreographed dance sequence. When Whoopi shows up you’re almost not ready for it, and they introduce her so casually that if you’re not on the ball you could miss it. I mean, Whoopi’s not doing much, it probably wasn’t a problem to get her, but it’s still incredibly cool.
Likewise, “Demon Child Ruins Red Rover” is just incredible, more like a found footage horror movie than anything else. Where did they get that child actress? She sold that bite so well that I actually felt bad for the other kid. And then, right before she bolts off into the woods, you see that her mouth is lightly smeared with blood. It’s gross, it’s bold, it’s absolutely terrifying and it’s maybe the first time in the episode we see anything shocking.
If you’re going to build a brand on being absurd, out there or edgy, you really have to deliver on it week after week. That’s actually super hard. We all remember what happened to Marilyn Manson. Still, it’s a little disappointing to have a lackluster Broad City episode when the show is usually so full of life. Hopefully this is just a minor hitch, and next week we’ll be back to normal. Or well, not normal. You know what I mean.
Gita Jackson is Paste’s assistant comedy editor.