Season 4, Episode 5
My little Garbage Pail Girl.
Over the past four years and change, Broad City has proved itself to be a lot of things. It’s hyper aware of the world in which it lives. The characters – both main and supporting – never take themselves seriously. And reality can go out the window at any second in a scene. What’s it has never shown, however, is a heart. “Abbi’s Mom” contains some of the sweetest scenes in Broad City history with the titular character’s first on screen appearance. It also makes for an A+ episode of this season.
As anyone could probably note, Abbi’s mom Joanne makes her debut. You wouldn’t be docked any points for not remembering if she’d been mentioned or not. She’s not like Ilana’s mom who can take the crap her daughter starts. Abbi can only describe her as “conservative.” It’s easy to see why. When she arrives, Joanne (played by Fraiser star Peri Gilpin) gives off straight edge vibes. Her clothing is drab and she speaks without urgency unlike her daughter. Later, we even see her pick out a dildo while wearing reading glasses for God’s sake! Not to the viewers’ surprise, Joanne wants to have a night of excitement. She hasn’t gone out and done shots or “[worn] clothes meant for black women” since Abbi was born.
The two head to Ilana’s restaurant where work has escalated for the curly haired Kween (capital K of course). RuPaul Charles makes his much needed glorious return as the restaurant manager with a dirty sensibility. He pits the waiters against each other in a battle for the most tips with the loser going home. But Ilana’s at a disadvantage due to her bout of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The only way she can break out of the dreary attitude is with a “happy light.” Like caffeine, the effects of the light last for only a short time before she comes crashing. The switch is almost instant; Ilana slips from go to stop in a matter of seconds. It’s curious to see Ilana in a depressed state. The show loses a speck of luster without its resident upbeat freak.
Abbi fares no better with her mother over drinking/smoking only to fall into the restaurant’s koi pond. Without her mishap, Broad City wouldn’t have generated one of the most moving scenes in the show. When Abbi and Joanne are together, the show slows to a crawl. The story is muted in favor of character interaction. Before dinner, the two share a spliff and open up to one another. Abbi admits she knows her way around weed and Joanne turns out to really like it. They giggle and grow so much closer. After the pond incident, – after Joanne is caught making out with a then fired waiter – Abbi’s mom continues to spill her emotions. The conversation culminates into her realizing she wished she “fucked up more.” These scenes were so sweet and intimate, they made Broad City that much more special.
Should you watch “Abbi’s Mom?”
This episode is extraordinary. With a script credited to Ilana, awesome guest stars and a shift in perspective, “Abbi’s Mom” helps itself stand out from every other episode in the series.