In the third episode of Broad City Season 3, “Rat Pack,” Ilana and Abbi undertake eager missions for two different things. After Ilana pays an exterminator $400 to kill a rat in her apartment, she throws a party with her roommate Jaime to make the money back by charging a cover fee to all partygoers. It turns out, the rat isn’t even dead, and Ilana must kill it before any of the guests see it and demand their money back for being stuck at a “rat party.” Abbi, on the other hand, discovers the wonders of Tinder in a drunken stupor that sparks her desires for a no-strings-attached hook up. Although the best friends are on two entirely different chases in “Rat Pack,” Ilana’s and Jaime’s party is the centerpiece for the episode, and emphasizes the drastic difference in the main characters’ priorities.
Broad City has a knack for turning the most typical city struggles into relatable and hilarious snapshots, and last night’s episode felt particularly accurate for New York. Right before I watched this episode, I was trying to find and kill a tiny mouse of my own, that has been darting across my apartment floors for about a week. The episode begins from the rat’s perspective in Ilana’s and Jaime’s apartment. Immediately, we see that it always makes an appearances at inopportune times, particularly when Ilana is be enjoying herself (smoking weed, dancing around the house, getting ready to go out with friends). And ain’t that the truth — these damn vermin always show up at the worst times, just when we were beginning to forget about them, or feel comfortable again. I’m dealing with a tiny mouse and Ilana’s target is much bigger and more formidable, and Broad City once again makes us New Yorkers wonder, “Wait, why do I live here?” in the most lighthearted way.
Meanwhile Abbi is at her first Soulstice party when she gets a bit too drunk on kombucha and makes out with Trey. Fortunately, she’s saved by a phone call from Ilana. Ilana tells her about the party, so Abbi heads over to their place with a lingering desire to make out with someone she doesn’t know. That’s when she decides she’ll download Tinder for the first time. Abbi’s more of a hopeless romantic-type: who idealizes IRL, organic exchanges of affection rather than swapping pics and info on an app. Because she’s so naive about online dating, she doesn’t realize that you can swipe left on Tinder — she swipes right on everybody, because she thinks she has to meet each person before she can say yay or nay. Ilana has Abbi invite her Tinder matches to the party so she can charge them money, but an old grandpa, a man who is not Denzel Washington, and a deceptively handsome neo-Nazi are not who Abbi had in mind for her one night stand. Her poor luck in this episode is typical for Abby, but her disheartening experience with Tinder puts the unnatural experience of online dating into perspective.
While Abbi is in the bedroom courting her potential Tinder hook ups, Ilana is still on a mission to kill the rat that she pointlessly spent $400 to exterminate. In an unexpected, yet totally typical turn, she discovers that the rat has given birth to four tiny baby rats, and Ilana immediately has a change of heart. She lovingly cups the newborn rats in her hands (Yes, Ilana held real baby rats in her hand) as she equates her own experience as a woman to this mom-rat trying to find a place to give birth.
As we’ve seen in previous Broad City episodes, Ilana supports any and all human rights causes, but she’s usually too stoned for any real activism. Her empathy for a lowly street rat is Ilana’s half-assed activism at its best. And there you have it — Ilana found a connection, albeit with a handful of baby rats, while Abbi is left disillusioned by online dating. It’s a typical ending for a Broad City episode, but the show always takes us on a dynamic, uproarious journey to its point.