Hello, dear Queens. This week on Broad City, Abbi’s mom comes to town and Ilana is sad, as well as SAD. As in, she’s very depressed, and it’s not just the winter.
We open on Abbi and Ilana making frantic preparations for Abbi’s mom’s visit. (Her name is Joanne, so we’ll go with that from now on). Joanne has always been what Abbi calls “conservative.” Abbi likes to keep it surface-level with her mom—light, fun. She plans a day of museum-ing, visiting Santa at Macy’s, and eating at Ilana’s new workplace, Sushi Mambeaux (apparently Sushi Mambo is a real place in NYC, and it looks exactly like the fictional version). The pair clean the apartment, make a fancy cheese plate and hang a garland.
While they go about prepping and Abbi is explaining the details of the day she has planned with Joanne, Ilana starts to flop over on the table. She doesn’t laugh at Abbi’s “thanks for cutting the cheese” joke and looks a little sick. She stumbles over the counter and switches on her SAD lamp. (SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, classified as seasonal sadness or depression mostly due to lack of sunlight). Ilana seems to fill her tank very quickly on this light and be back to normal. She insists that her depression is due solely to the winter (and fall, and late summer) weather/lack of light, and has nothing at all to do with the fact that she has steadily cut back on her antidepressants and now takes none. Abbi is a little worried.
When Joanne arrives, she reveals to Abbi that earlier in the year she found a benign lump in her breast, an experience that gave her some perspective on life. Abbi is taken aback and unhappy that her mother never told her this, but listens as Joanne goes on to say that what she really wants to do is have a wild night out with her daughter. (Which, okay). So before they head out to dinner, she dons Abbi’s iconic blue dress of multi-episode fame, which just sets things up perfectly.
At the restauranterie, RuPaul has declared Spring Cleaning night. This means whoever gets the most tips gets everyone else’s tips too, and whoever gets the least amount of tips gets fired. So, there’s that.
Ilana seems okay at the top of her shift, and gleefully seats Abbi and Joanne. But the sad/SAD is getting stronger, and she needs to sneak into the storage room to juice herself up on light again. Soon the light isn’t enough, and she implores Abbi, from a fetal position on the floor, to find a higher-wattage bulb. Abbi has the idea to reflect the light off of a sheet of tinfoil. As the night progresses, Ilana has lined the entire storage room in sheets of tinfoil and is bathing in this extreme light, with ever-weakening results. Between stints in the light-room, she’s unable to upsell her customers or be cheery. She sits at her customers’ tables and lays her head down, claiming that life is meaningless.
At first, this approach to a depression storyline rubbed me the wrong way. It’s utterly ridiculous (but that’s what Broad City is) and seemed belittling to the experience of depression. But the more I think about it, the more I actually think it’s a decent commentary on the stigma associated with medication (Ilana didn’t want to take it anymore) and the drive to be happy all the time (hence the extreme light dependence). In the end, Ilana goes back on her meds, and specifically calls out the futility of shame and stigma around antidepressants.
ANYWAY. Back in the restauranterie, Joanne has been taking shots and drinking martinis while confessing all kinds of things to Abbi. She’s only had sex with 3 men (as opposed to Abbi’s 32), hasn’t had hard liquor since the night she got pregnant with Abbi, and generally wishes she had “fucked up more.” While Abbi is horrified, she’s also empathetic and a little amused, so she takes her mom outside and they smoke some weed together. Back inside, Abbi tries to help Ilana again with the Power Light, but they blow a fuse and the power cuts out. When it comes back on, they find Joanne standing on the table, shouting that her daughter fucked 32 guys, before falling into the indoor koi pond and heading outside to make out with Owen the terrible rich waiter.
Meanwhile, Ilana tells RuPaul to take all of her tips and fire her, but she can do no wrong with him. He says her depression is “making his dick a little hard” and that he hopes she never gets better. YIKES. Another joke that didn’t land with me was when RuPaul’s child Parker, who has been working at this restauranterie without revealing their true identity, confronts RuPaul about his parenthood. RuPaul fires Parker, cackling as he claims he doesn’t work with family.
The episode ends on a high note, though, as Abbi and Ilana take Joanne shopping at a sex shop. They seem like they’re at home there. When Joanne decides she wants to get a Shinjo, there’s a very funny callback to season 2 when Abbi put Jeremy’s Shinjo in the dishwasher. Hand wash only, mom.
Overall, I give this episode 3/5 sake-rosé shots. Tune in next week for the recap of “Witches.” I have no idea what it’s about, but the title has me pretty psyched!