The best episode yet of “Broad City” season five aired last night, and lucky for me, it was #allaboutbitcoin. Never do my professional and personal interests align in such a unique and satisfying way.
For those who are unfamiliar, “Broad City” is a Comedy Central show starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, two comedians who met through the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. It explores the trials and tribulations of two twentysomething Jewish white women trying to make it in the big city. (Their characters share their names.) Let’s take a look at how accurately this show covered bitcoin.
So, what business do these two superficial millennials (am I being redundant?) have with bitcoin in the first place? (Warning: spoilers ahead.) The obvious answer is some ex-boyfriend type of Ilana’s. Of course she once dated a “very hot, very old dot-com douche” who gave her one third of a BTC. And of course she remembers this after finding an old Fruit by the Foot wrapper with her private key written on it.
This represents a surprisingly responsible way for a person to store the keys to their private wallet. Keeping it off the internet ensures that it stays safe from hackers. But Ilana takes it one step further. She doesn’t even have her password stored in the same place as her key. Instead, she’s entrusted it to Brad, the “very hot, very old dot-com douche” (he’s in his forties). Assuming Brad has accrued enough wealth over the years from his dot-com douchery, he probably has no reason to steal Ilana’s third of a bitcoin, so he may just be the perfect store of password knowledge.
Now we know where this episode will take us—to some sterile corporate office where Brad works. But first, a costume change. If Ilana’s going retrieve her long-lost bitcoin, she must do it in cyberpunk style.
“I’ve been waiting for this since 1999,” says the salesperson wearing purple lipstick and an emotionless stare, who proceeds to dress Ilana in a full-body patent leather Matrix-style jumpsuit. The outfit comes complete with tiny sunglasses and aux cords hanging around her neck, like 1999’s idea of what a futuristic choker might look like.
Obviously, this does not reflect the bitcoin owners of today. Ilana would have been better off in jeans and a checkered button-up, or honestly, a T-shirt with some startup’s logo on it. Or a white tank top and vest. But never mind. She looks great. When she arrives at the sterile corporate office of the old douche, we learn she “hasn’t changed a bit.”
After a confusing sales pitch about her “woman-owned business,” which is all about selling real human-hair wigs for cell phones, Ilana gets her third of a bitcoin from Brad. It’s worth $8,265, which would be mathematically incorrect at any point in bitcoin’s history, but whatever.
As Ilana leaves the office, after having magically been transfered her bitcoin spoils, she’s pulled by the urgent cries of protestors standing right outside.
“No more bitcoin! No more bitcoin!” the protestors shout. But why not more bitcoin, Ilana asks? “Because it’s killing the earth,” says the protestor. “It’s a huge waste of energy because of all the servers it’s using, and it’s the pedophile’s currency of choice… it’s contributing to climate change.”
In full-body patent leather, Ilana starts to feel warm. Is the $8,256 she just came into worth destroying the earth and contributing to an economy enjoyed by heinous criminals?
“I know bitcoin is evil, but it’s like no more evil than paper money,” says Ilana later that evening, snuggling in a robe on Abbi’s bed.
And she’s not wrong. Fiat currency isn’t exactly eco-friendly. Every time a U.S. bill gets cycled out of use, the government shreds it, often disposing of it in a landfill. Since our “paper” money is actually made of linen and cotton, the farming required to make it uses lots of energy and water, not to mention pesticides and fertilizer (though much of it is made from recycled materials).
In the end, Ilana decides to use her third of a bitcoin to invest in her woman-owned business, phone wigs. Made of “100 percent biodegradable material”—human hair—they’re a guilt-free way to reinvest her crypto windfall. Personally, I like the Bernadette Peters: