The colorful creatures of Broad City are three-dimensional and therefore they can’t be reduced to their most prominent characteristics. But it’s true that Abbi and Ilana’s instincts send them in virtually opposite directions. Where Abbi deflates, Ilana inflates, and the contrast creates that damn delicious chemistry that solidifies the core of the Big Apple romance. Time and time again the love between the broads has been analyzed and applauded. It’s honest, it’s unquestionable, and most importantly, unlike the girl-on-girl cattiness portrayed on television too often and too erroneously, it’s made of actual love. Feminist heroes they sure are. But what’s been less fleshed out, likely out of fear of diminishing the feminist label, is how much Abbi and Ilana actually need each other. And Broad City’s candid representation of that aspect of female friendship may be its boldest move of all.
The format of “Mochalata Chills” (written by Jen Statsky) mirrors Season One’s career-driven episode “Working Girls” by splitting the broads up, sending them to their respective workplaces, bringing them back together once in the middle of the day and again at the end. By splitting them up, we get a glimpse at how far the girls will go toward their personal extremes. Where episodes past have surprised us by pushing back on our expectations of the characters (In “Fattest Asses,” Abbi kicks down a bathroom stall and bogarts cocaine from the hairless teen-boy inside), “Mochalata Chills” indulges in them and together we conclude: If Abbi’s gonna get on the seesaw, Ilana better be sitting down soon after.
In the beginning of the episode, things are going unusually well for Abbi. With Bevers and his couch sores seemingly gone from her life forever, Abbi performs a nude lip sync to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” with such gusto, you can’t help but hold your breath as the pixelized censors follow her around the apartment for an entire 50 seconds (that’s a long time). Abbi brings her good vibes to Soulstice and, sensing that she’s ready to rise up and meet an opportunity, Trey invites her to train his muse…Bevers. A number of the episode’s laughs are thanks to these two annoyances. Paul W. Downs is a master at portraying Trey as the trainer who’s encouraging to the point of condescension and John Gemberling is oddly lovable as Bevers, whose occasional spot-on insight can barely be heard over his general disgustingness.
Meanwhile Ilana’s boss at Deals, Deals, Deals!, via a letter written with encouragement by his therapist, asks that she actually do work at work, and leaves the office for the day. Despite their respective obstacles (Bevers is Bevers and Ilana simply cannot do work) both broads accept their yallenges.
While Abbi is the aspirational one, we’ve witnessed her inclination to freak the f*ck out since the beginning, for example, when she informed us by way of a temper tantrum that, “Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons NEVER EXPIRE!” But Soulstice is Abbi’s place of work, where she hopes her greatest aspiration will one day be realized, so she contains her anger and quietly berates Bevers for choosing her gym of all gyms. Like so many 20-somethings, Abbi puts a lot of positive energy into making sure things go well, but what feels even better is indulging in those deep-rooted feelings that nothing ever will. So her anger boils within while she stretches Bevers’ glutes.
Ilana takes her bosses request and turns it into an opportunity to add diversity to Deals, Deals, Deals! Instead of doing the work herself, she hires an “extremely diverse, ethnic smorgasbord of unpaid interns.” Ilana so badly wants to assert her liberalism, she doesn’t notice when it turns her into more of a slave owner than a liberator. Unlike the season premiere, “Mochalata Chills” is split evenly between Abbi and Ilana’s storylines and that means more laughs for us. Not only is Ilana a master at physical comedy, her wild lack of restraint has made for most of the thrill-ride scenarios that have become the trademark of Broad City. When we watch Ilana, we don’t cringe at having been there ourselves. Instead we watch mesmerized as she makes one unpredictable move after another.
Things are getting better for Ilana- she purchases a “white power suit” from TJ Maxx on her way to lunch- while they’re getting worse for Abbi- the hostess greets her with a sport coat and calls her ‘sir’ as she leads her to the table. But their “Halliburton fatcat lunch” is something of a do-si-do for the girls as they discuss their days and bring to light what the other one missed. In a simple statement, Ilana inspires Abbi to suck it up: “Rub some Purell on your mustache so you don’t smell him! Who cares? This is an opportunity!” And when Ilana spills sauce on her perfectly clean white power suit, Abbi helps her understand: “I don’t know if I would call it a white power suit.” Suddenly everything is clear. Abbi returns to Soulstice eager to train Bevers, although it isn’t long before Bever’s flies off the treadmill and Trey demotes her back to cleaner. And Ilana returns to the office, desperate to set her slaves free (two of which she made out with), despite their actual desire to work for her.
“Mochalata Chills” is an example of how good the show’s writers are at containing the storyline within the Broad City world. Sure the girls learn, but their strides are more like baby steps. It’s a smart choice that allows the elements of spontaneity, vulgarity, and irresponsibility to continue to carry the frenetic energy of the show.
It’s scary to imagine how their days may have gone had Abbi and Ilana not met up for lunch in the middle. But then again, it’s not. Because what’s most important to them is each other, so the outside pressures of their lives have little effect on their overall happiness much less their attention. At the end of the day, Abbi and Ilana lie in bed together, discussing their fears about pooping while giving birth, totally unfazed by the traumas of the workday. The scene perfectly represents what makes the series so strong and at the same time so sweet: the broads aren’t trying to prove anything. They just want to chill out, toke up, and carry on.