Thursday, September 14, 2017

COMEDY ROUNDUP: 'People of Earth,' 'You're the Worst' and 'Broad City' (September 10-16)

Some brief reviews for various comedies from September 10-16:

TBS' People of Earth - Episode 2.08 "Alien Experiencer Expo"
FXX's You're the Worst - Episode 4.03 "Odysseus"
Comedy Central's Broad City - Episode 4.01 "Sliding Doors"

Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to give every show I watch or regularly cover the proper write-up this week. Of course, I apologize for that. But here are some brief thoughts about three comedies that aired new episodes between September 10 and 16.

People of Earth - "Alien Experiencer Expo"
The group attends an alien experiencer convention. Gina meets one of her therapy heroes. Gerry and Yvonne have their first fight. Richard tries to prove to Agent Foster that aliens do exist. Both Chelsea and Agent Foster receive unexpected news. Written by Nick Adams and directed by Shaka King

There is just a fun premise at the heart of this episode. StarCrossed goes to a convention for people who believe they've been abducted by aliens. It allows the show to expand on its basic premise while also forcing the characters to address the dynamics they've had this season. Sure, some of it comes across as a bit random - like Chelsea becoming pregnant and Gina standing strong on being the person to tell Ozzie's story. Meanwhile, the show keeps building up this grand mystery with Eric and Gerry. The payoff better be amazing. Gerry has some substance that could prove quite dangerous. But it's clear it won't be revealed until the season finale what it's purpose is exactly. This episode largely just serves as a way to get Agent Foster back to the FBI while also advancing her search for her birth parents. The FBI side of things increases the tension moving forward because her superior only brings her back in with the intention of killing her for what she knows. Meanwhile, the reconnecting with family side of things is mostly just amusing because Don becomes a part of this environment and can confirm or deny every theory that these people have. It's quite humorous to watch while continuing to setup a big reveal for later. B

You're the Worst -  "Odysseus"
After Jimmy returns to Los Angeles, he attempts to make amends with Gretchen, leading to their first confrontation. Lindsay and Edgar enjoy their new friends-with-benefits arrangement while Edgar tries to show Jimmy that Gretchen wasn't the only person he abandoned. Written by Alison Bennett and directed by Stephen Falk

The first meeting between Jimmy and Gretchen was bound to be very explosive this season. The hourlong season premiere showed just how poorly the two of them have been handling things in the three months since Jimmy proposed and then ran away from her. And now, everyone is back in Los Angeles. Jimmy walks back into his old life and is surprised by how things have changed. He's taken aback that Edgar and Lindsay seem to be the healthy ones who are capable of just having casual sex with each other. It's amusing that they keep hooking up as a way to deal with their feelings towards Jimmy. Meanwhile, Gretchen's story of hooking up with Colin Ferguson's Boone after hanging out with Ty primarily feels like setup for future stories. Boone is mature in a way that many of the characters on this show aren't while still being pretty selfish and critical as well. And yet, the true power of this episode comes from that final sequence where Jimmy and Gretchen confront each other. It's vicious to see Gretchen storm Jimmy's house to yell the one word text message he sent her. But it's even more explosive when Jimmy follows her to Lindsay's apartment. He does make the right apology. But he just can't help himself and it turns into an apology that blames Gretchen for what he did. That's a huge moment of clarity for Gretchen. It gives her resolution in a way that staying inside an apartment and hooking up with other guys hasn't. Now, she's going to be the spiteful ex-girlfriend who needs to ruin Jimmy's life because his actions were absolutely horrifying and he's delusional in his explanation for why he did them. That's a fun direction for the show to explore this season. B+

Broad City - "Sliding Doors"
On a spring day in 2011, Abbi and Ilana meet for the first time. Written by Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer and directed by Lucia Aniello

It's been a long wait for the new season of Broad City. And yet, the time off has only increased my appreciation for this show. It's just so special, distinct and upbeat. It's really empowering and inventive. In its fourth season, it just decides to start things off with an origin story with a Sliding Doors twist. It's genius. The core friendship between Abbi and Ilana is so strong. It's the heart of the series. It's fun to see how they actually met. There's the original expectation that the reality where they spend the whole day hanging out together is the truth. It seems like something that would happen. They meet at the subway and race to catch the train but fail because someone pukes on them. But the true, inspired twist is that this reality isn't true. It's the fantasy that ends in tragedy. The two have an epic day of adventures. It's the start of a strong friendship. One where Abbi can tell Ilana her hair is better curly while Ilana is puzzled by Abbi actually being Jewish. But it's a great punchline when the two of them run into traffic and die by getting hit with a bus with an ad for The Apprentice. That's horrifying to say. But it also feels real and genuine. It's the fantasy that this meeting is something that just worked right away. It wasn't. It was awkward and they were unsure of themselves along the way. They met and went their separate paths having truly terrible days. It was only in being able to share that misery that they bond quickly and become the friends that they are so many years later. That's the truth while still fundamentally being this relationship that has evolved so much over the course of the show. It's great that the show decided to tell this story at this moment in time. A