Think of this as a love letter to one of, if not the greatest, comedy television shows of the last decade. The kind of letter you send to someone who, after spending three glorious years together, wrapped in a comforting, devoted, blazed embrace, you begin to notice that person is changing. Yet, there is hope; there are glimmers of the kindred soul you once found so special, and still do, and you're trying to re-kindle the dream before it's too late. Because that's how I feel about Broad City Season 4 so far. And that sucks.
Since January 2014, back when Obama was still president and Pitbull and Ke$ha were waxing about falling trees, BFFs Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer launched onto Comedy Central to fill our lives with hilarious anecdotes about vag-weed, dentists and trips to the Holy Land. Between the two of them they've redefined how female friendship is portrayed on TV, transforming it from toxic and male-orientated — think Girls and Sex and the City — into something honest and realistically weird; into something we actually want to be part of. They gave us mortals achievable BFF goals without being all Sugar Plum Fairy about it. We dig that.
And over three seasons (you can watch our recap of Season 3 above), they slowly developed fantastic in jokes, as all good friendships do, and slipped them into several episodes as a wink to hardcore fans. These jokes became running gags: Abbi marooning as a lounge singer called Val when blackout drunk, for instance, or her saying she was training Shania Twain as a cover up for something else. The show also nailed celebrity cameos, which were hilarious and often totally bizarre because they weren't really part of the narrative — Whoopi Goldberg celebrating Ilana's dismissal, for example.
But in two* 20-minute episodes, #BroadCity Season 4 already feels — to me, anyway — like it could be losing this charm; losing the soul that made it so special. And it's because of those two aforementioned factors.
Spoilers ahead for Broad City Season 4, Episode 2, "Twaining Day," so, my frond to the ond, protect yourself.
*Disclaimer No.1: I'm purely concentrating on Episode 2, "Twaining Day," seeing as Episode 1 was a flashback.
'We're Not Open. Get Out.'
Let's start with the cameos. As mentioned above Broad City is really bloody good at injecting bonkers celebrity cameos in a way that subverts your expectations. They portray each particular celeb in a different light, whether that be in character or just a totally extra version of themselves. Season 3 alone was slammed with them: Alongside Whoopi Goldberg, we had Seth Green as a Jewish holiday rep, NBA's Blake Griffin as some sort of sex mule, Cynthia Nixon pushing Hilary Clinton's campaign (also known as a 2-4-1 dream), Maroon 5's frontman Adam Levine in an in-flight safety video — the list goes on. Each time a new one made an appearance on screen it was met with a "OMFG, is that _____?!!" alongside a "hahahaha" and a "chorus of yaaaaaaas." Because they nailed it. Each appearance was unexpected, barely added (but certainly added) to the episode's narrative, and most importantly, they were funny.
Personally, the cameos in "Twaining Day" did not elicit the same reaction. Wanda Sykes — who'll you know from Curb Your Enthusiasm, writing for The Chris Rock Show, and from movies such as Evan Almighty, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Bad Moms — appeared as Abbi's new boss, and considering she's an Emmy-winning comedy veteran, her talent was wasted on bitching about organic cat litter. Then you have Ru Paul who, although he is an undeniable champion, is a predictable and thus beige addition to the show. Had he appeared in Season 1 or 2, before the popularity of Ru Paul's Drag Race tripled and he started popping up in literally everything, having him school Ilana on how to be a top bitch waitress would have worked. Instead, it didn't. It was boring.
That Don't Impress Me Much
And then you have Shania Twain, which links cameos to point two: the in-jokes. Oh how I want to weep for the waste of a glorious opportunity, and the end of the lie gag. What could have been a short, sweet appearance from the hallowed Kanadian Kountry Kween was hammed up within an inch of its life. It wasn't surreal, it wasn't extra, it was just cringe. Man, I feel like a smoothie?! Really?
The same goes for Ilana taking toilet breaks to draw inspiration from the tin foil that once housed her half-and-half potato. Is this gag ever explained? No. Does it work? No. It's weird, too weird for her, and that's saying something. And since when did Ilana, the Ilana who last season was putting herself next to Madonna and Rihanna before booty-bouncing some random into a bin, need an object to check herself? Perhaps Lincoln-gate has thrown her totally out of whack but I just don't buy it.
** Disclaimer No. 2: Perhaps I should have mentioned before entering that epic sigh-fest that I am aware it's unfair and slightly dramatic to slam a show based on one episode, so I want to be clear: I am not slamming this undebatable Arc de fucking Triomphe in its entirety, rather ferociously hoping that this episode is a just glitch in the va-hin-ja matrix.
I still have faith.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.