Review: Hillary Clinton stopped by the funniest ‘Broad City’ of the season

Senior Television Writer
03.17.16 9 Comments

Some thoughts on last night's Broad City episode guest-starring Hillary Clinton coming up just as soon as I look like a Bachelor contestant who quits because she's too good for the show…

Clinton's cameo was the headline for “2016,” if not for this new Broad City season as a whole. Unsurprisingly, though, her appearance (which Comedy Central put online in its entirety even before “2016” aired) was far from the episode's high point. With a few exceptions like John McCain or Al Franken (who had a head start), politicians who do comedy at best qualify as good sports, and that's more or less how Broad City used Clinton: a glorified prop for Ilana and Abbi to have a brief but amusing freak-out over. (My favorite part, and not just because it alluded to perhaps the series' best episode, was when Abbi, struggling for things to say about herself to the former First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State, blurted out, “I pegged!”)

The episode leading up to that cameo, though, felt energized in a similar way to the jolt Ilana felt when she realized she had wandered into Clinton's New York campaign office. It was as if the stars and the rest of Team Broad City, giddy to have Clinton appearing on the show – and aware of the possibility of her cameo bringing in some viewers who wouldn't ordinarily watch – decided to present the best possible version of the series for her/them. This was easily the strongest episode of the new season, and one that spotlighted the show's unique comic voice.

In particular, the story about Abbi's trip(s) to the DMV did a great job spotlighting not only Abbi Jacobson's gift for playing a comic victim, but the series' surreal vision of New York City itself, which can be either a complete dystopian hellscape (Abbi's first visit, which looks like a refugee camp, and ends with her puking as the picture is taken) or a fantasy paradise (Abbi's second visit, replete with harps, chocolate fountains, personal stylists, and a tuxedo-clad concierge on roller skates). And along the way, it offered a very funny cameo – offering a sharp contrast to his recent work on Horace and Pete – from Alan Alda as Abbi's perfect grandfatherly chiropractor, Dr. Heller.

For that matter, the Ilana half of the episode not only showcased her function as the show's magical bringer of chaos (who occasionally does things perfectly, like tossing the right package to a random woman on the street), but brought in a couple of comedy pros in Rachel Dratch (reprising her role as the beleaguered temp agency boss from season 1's “Working Girls”) and Cynthia Nixon (as the latest representative of the normal world struggling to understand who this insane sprite is and how to keep her from ruining everything) for Ilana Glazer to bounce off of.

Hillary Clinton herself was… fine? Arguably better than when she's been on SNL interacting with her impersonators (including Broad City executive producer Amy Poehler), but on this front she's never going to be McCain, or even Al Gore. But Abbi and Ilana's freakout over her worked well enough, and “2016” as a whole was a delightful showcase for all that makes this one of TV's very best comedies.

While keeping in mind the blog's No Politics rule (i.e., you can debate Clinton's merits as a performer, not as a candidate for president), what did everybody else think? And how are you feeling about Broad City season 3 to date?

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