Broad City Review: "Philadelphia"

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<i>Broad City</i> Review: "Philadelphia"

Was there anything wrong with this episode of Broad City? No. It was kind of perfect, actually. Hugely refreshing after last week’s disaster, and the change of location—Abbi and Ilana are visiting Abbi’s dad in Philadelphia—really allowed the show to stretch its legs with new situations. But I still found it difficult to watch.

You see, I got the fuck out of my hometown as soon as humanly possible. I hated that place, I hated high school, I try not to think about it at all if I can help it. This episode was an object lesson in why.

What made this episode so good was how it so perfectly demonstrated the disaster of visiting home. Everything has changed in small enough ways to remind you that you don’t live there anymore, but reminders of the person you were are all around you.

As Abbi and Ilana go through Abbi’s old bedroom, they find two things that kick off the plot—$900 dollars that Abbi raised for a former friend who had a bad accident that she never gave her, and a commemorative JonBenet Ramsey Beanie Baby that is worth thousands of dollars. As Ilana puts the Beanie Baby up on eBay for auction, they go out on a quest to find Abbi’s old friend and give her the money.

What Abbi really discovers as she ventures out into town, however, is that she was a bit of an asshole in high school. She was a white-person-dread-having, mean-nickname-giving, shrooming piece of shit. It’s clear from the start that her motivations aren’t to make it up to her old friend, but to prove to herself that she’s a good person.

And that’s what makes this so funny, because even now, Abbi is not really a good person, and her frantic desire to deny that to herself as she is spending the money she owes her friend is beautiful. I am doing that chef’s kiss with my hands as I write this. That’s a spicy meatball!

Part of what I love about Abbi and Ilana in this show that they feel like the women I met in college who would later move to New York, warts and all. They make so many minor compromises to their ideals to get what they want that they can’t see the incoming avalanche of bad karma until it’s too late. But at the same time—why shouldn’t they? Live your life girl, you only get one! Besides, living in New York City is an actual nightmare and it’s somewhat necessary to embarrass yourself on a daily basis. Too bad that doesn’t quite translate over to life in Philadelphia.

There are a lot of quiet gags in this episode that I loved—in particular, Ilana screaming in Chinese on the phone at a potential buyer while casually bowling a strike—but what makes me most happy is that Broad City seems to have found a heart again. A shriveled, blackened, barely beating heart, but a heart nonetheless. Never go home, kids. There’s nothing for you there, and your dad is just gonna turn your bedroom into a UV sauna.

Gita Jackson is Paste’s assistant comedy editor.