The subway is coming and Abbi and Ilana are barreling down the stairs, swiping their metro passes, and jumping on board just as the doors close. High-five for a small New York victory. Now they have to get to the back of the train. So again they hustle, shuffling through the cars, the freak show that is the big city: a man clipping his toenails, a couple nearing second base, a family of pasty-white tourists pigging out on a 3-foot-long sub, and a crazy lady who thinks she recognizes Abbi, shouting “Val! Val?!”
They pass by a girl with a shiny red face, hanging onto a shower pole, dressed in Ilana’s exact outfit from last season’s “The Lockout.” It’s an off-brand moment for the broads — breaking the fourth wall by giving a nod to season one, a wink to the audience — but it’s packed with sentiment. Sure they’re in it with each other, but we’re right there with them, too. Worried there won’t be enough poop and penises this season? Well there’s a pile of poop on the floor of the next car. And on the car after that, a group of Hasids, the last of which Ilana spanks before she and Abbi exit the train, because rules? What rules? If Season 1 was days one through ten, Season 2 picks up on day eleven. It’s just really fucking hot outside.
“Never forget this, okay? Every ten pounds a guy loses, he gains a visual inch,” Ilana explains to Abbi as they walk down the street, eating vanilla soft-serve. They step into TopShop for some AC. In adjacent dressing rooms, Ilana examines her own natural pocket and Abbi yanks jeans up her sweaty legs. Abbi mentions that Male Stacy (played by Seth Rogen) is cooking her dinner tonight and notes, “If I was a guy, that is what I would do for a girl.” The statement is an example of how the girls are a foil to each other. Abbi believes in rules and rightness, while the words “If I was a guy,” would never come to Ilana’s mind, because to Ilana, gender, sexuality, and any other universal margins are nonexistent. Ilana suggests Abbi check out the Colin Farrell sex tape, “just to get back in the swing of things,” and, in an Irish accent describes a string of bleep-worthy details, both girls exiting their dressing rooms to a long line of disapproving mothers and their wide-eyed daughters. “We love New York moms,” Ilana assures them, always forward thinking, never full of shame. The jump from the scene in the subway to the scene in the dressing room pokes fun at how easy it is to jump back and forth over the line from offendee to offender, especially in New York.
It would be easy to assign Abbi the role of the uptight one and Ilana the role of the free spirit, but those limitations are constantly being challenged so much so that they end up at the opposite end of the spectrum. Abbi’s date with Male Stacy is going really well until he passes out from the heat and she ends up, technically, raping him. In last season’s “Stolen Phone,” Abbi points out to Ilana that sometimes she’s so anti-racist, she’s actually really racist. In that same vein, Abbi is so focused on things going right she ends up committing the biggest wrong. And the conclusion she makes: she has to get an air conditioner.
If you placed the storyline of “In Heat” on a scale, it would tip towards Abbi. The episode gives her so many moments to really act, and she is a downright good actress. While Ilana’s presence in itself is inherently comical- she has massively curly hair, and her outfits speak for themselves- Abbi harnesses real-life relatable moments and throws them back at us so accurately, she tickles us with our own embarrassing humanity. While Male Stacy sweats over fajitas, Abbi excuses herself from the kitchen to cool down in the bathroom. She wipes her sweaty hairline and grabs the blow dryer, pointing it toward her face for just a moment before opening her pants and pointing it toward her viyinya. It’s a funny moment not because it’s outrageous or shocking but because it’s exactly what we would do, it’s exactly what we have done.
The hunt for an air conditioner takes the girls all over the city and while the big action moments carry the plot forward, the in-betweens are what keep the show’s heart beating. After the air conditioner from BB&B is stolen off a street corner, the girls brainstorm their next steps from a park bench- Abbi still needs an air conditioner and Ilana needs a birthday gift for Lincoln. Ilana’s pursuit of Lincoln’s birthday gift is the episode’s secondary storyline, and while she doesn’t do much that gets a laugh, practically everything she says is a soothing reminder that the most fiercely liberal, outrageously open-minded pothead is back to make you feel like the baddest sh!t you do isn’t really bad at all. After Abbi makes out with a sixteen year old, making her a repeated sex offender, Ilana consoles her: “You’re a sex offender at worst! Welcome to the club.” She laughs, “It’s not hard to get into.”
While “In Heat” isn’t the broads’ best episode, we didn’t exactly need the season premiere to make us squirt soda out of our nostrils. What we needed, if I may speak for the group, was for the broads to stay on-brand despite their real-life success; to jump right back into the world of Broad City where the attitude and the aesthetic is street-level, and sometimes even a level below it.