Life as a young person these days can be pretty bummy. Thanks to chronic underemployment and dumpster-inspired fashion trends, a studio apartment is really the only difference between your average urban-dwelling twentysomething and an old-timey hobo. Take away that last vestige of citizenship and things can get real greasy real fast, as “The Lockout” demonstrated last night in some disturbingly literal ways.
In the course of a single day separated from their WiFi lairs, Ilana and Abbi managed to fall in a trash pile, get Maced, have their clothes covered in lotion and finally end up eating bagels from an entirely different trash pile. Along the way we got to hear some soon-to-be classic Broad City lines (“You got to do your brain Kegels” and “Sometimes I go to Quiznos and I just go NUTS”) and see the show’s best physical comedy yet, including a hilariously awkward “parkour” sequence and a series of Chaplin-esque gags involving a curtain rod.
For how common the experience of getting locked out of your place is, it’s pretty remarkable how rarely it shows up in fiction, giving last night’s episode more of the refreshing realness we’ve come to expect from Broad City. It’s the kind of comedy arbitrage Seinfeld exploited to great effect (and which “The Lockout” title can be read as a nod to).
On the other hand, watching the girls slowly debase themselves until they hit rock bottom is a far more familiar (and less interesting) gimmick. It’s a premise used time and time again by shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Broad City itself in the first episode of this season. To stand out, “The Lockout” would just have had to get a lot more grotesque than Ilana eating garbage bagels, which, while extremely, almost depressingly “real,” was only kind of funny.
Overall, last night’s episode felt like the debut of a stronger, surer Broad City. Gone were both the jarring misfires we saw in previous weeks and the uncertain plotting that sometimes sent the show off-course. So while the highs were maybe less dizzingly high than we’ve seen before, the lows were also less dismally low, making this the most even episode of Broad City to date.