Broad City makes me really, very happy. I don’t see a lot of me on television or in movies (despite there being a drastic increase in the amount of fantastically explored and fleshed out female characters on television lately). I see a lot of damaged protagonists who are constantly fighting for a triumphant moment. I see plenty of females who can kick some serious ass. I see lawyers and doctor and spies. I see mothers trying to hold their families together, women who are trying to navigate their love life and the mess that can ensue, and daughters who are trying to find a sense of self. And that’s great! But I rarely ever see me.
That’s because nothing about me screams “TV.” I am far from glamorous or exciting; I’m average all across the board, aside for maybe my self-deprecating wit (at which I succeed). I graduated college, stuck around the city I’d lived in the past few years, and have gone through the stifling process of job hunting (it’s terrible don’t do it).
Broad City gets me. Broad City gets the female twenty-something collective at large. Sure, I am not as outrageously funny as either Illana Glazer or Abbi Jacobson (though I strive to be), and my life doesn’t meet 20% of the absurdity levels that theirs do, but the way they react to life’s struggles and the problems they face are satisfyingly familiar.
Abbi is dissatisfied with her job, and Illana is coasting through hers. Neither dress in clothes that are cutting-edge, and even are seen repeating outfits (gasp!). They’re pretty but not glamorous, street smart, funny, and down to relax. It’s the show’s mix of real life situations clashing with absurdist, stoner humor that makes for such an initial appealing watch. Temp jobs are awkward as is, but having Illana take one as a dog walker highlights the absurdity of her situation.
Illana’s overwhelming confidence is something refreshing and entirely welcome in a medium that often sees girls riddled with self-doubts and peer pressure. Illana simply does not care about what anyone thinks. She’ll wear her crop tops to work and rock black lipstick at Bed, Bath and Beyond. She’ll hide her weed wherever she pleases, sleep with who she likes, and love herself the entire time. She thinks she’s hot, so the audience thinks so too. Maybe she’s not conventionally attractive, but does that matter when she rocks it the way she does? I was always told that confidence is one of our greatest accessories; if we feel beautiful we’ll look beautiful. Illana embodies that idea, but does so with little self-importance or realization of how important her confidence is. When her character walks into a room, she dominates it, pulling eyes to her – and you know she knows.
If you can’t tell, I’ve got a pretty obvious crush on Illana.
This all transcends well into her seemingly fluid sexuality. Sure there’s a lot of joking around about Illana desperately wanting to Abbi to join her in a threesome, but there’s also a lot of openness of how attractive she finds everybody. For lack of a better word again, it’s refreshing. So is Abbi’s lust over any attractive man ever. Yes she wants a relationship, but her blatant sexualizing of men is a small, nice touch. Women are often the sex objects whom men are chasing, but here Abbi is in all of her wonderfulness.
Illana’s confidence is perfectly countered by Abbi’s insecurity, little of which comes from anything stemming from vanity. Instead, Abbi is worried about hitting on an attractive neighbor or paying for her own weed; she’s sick of her job and she’s terrified at the idea that children may look at her now and wonder where her child is. These are realistic, sometimes irrational concerns. Being in your twenties (as far as I can tell so far) is weird, and Broad City is enlightening in that regard – despite showcasing reality through such a warped and hyper-realistic lens.
There’s nothing spectacular about the world Illana and Abbi live in, but it’s still undoubtedly entertaining regardless. New York City is often painted as this magical oasis of the creative and soulful, when in reality it’s just as angry and loud as every other big city. Illana and Abbi’s New York is the real New York of today; it’s the one where the subway is still a mess of crowds and strangers, getting from point A to point B through public transportation is nightmarish, and the nightlife is expensive. But the city also feels youthful on the show. It’s a bit messy, sure, but it has an energetic spirit that corresponds nicely with our lead characters. Where we live is often what we make of it and what experiences and people we find through our temporary or permanent homes. Illana and Abbi have each other and days of trying to find places and things to entertain one another.
The crucial aspect of this show, beyond the crude humor being delegated to women and allowing us a more honest look at a twenty-something’s life, is that, at the heart of the story, buried beneath the absurdity and cynicism, is a television about two young women and their friendship.
I don’t see many female friendships portrayed well on-screen. Too often are female characters written to bicker and blackmail and scheme or fall head over heels for some dude and forgo all other significant relationships. Illana and Abbi love one another and they love spending time together. From the mundane to the crazy, they are always there for each other. Abbi will even Hulk out on adrenaline in order to carry Illana to the ER after the latter has an allergic reaction to shellfish. Then, they’ll both lie on a hospital bed before staggering home in the early hours of the morning, asking each other inane sex questions. It’s a sweet, important relationship for television to have and for people to see. A friendship can be the most important relationship in an individuals life, particularly when you’re still feeling like a young adult who needs a support system on hand to help you through everyday anxieties. Sure, Broad City doesn’t dwell on any sort of deeper meanings or aim to delivering any pathos, but it doesn’t need to – Illana and Abbi resemble us, real people, and that’s touching enough.
I love this show, I see pieces of me in this show, and I think you might, too. Broad City season two premieres tonight at 10:30pm on Comedy Central (and has just been renewed for a third season!). What are you waiting for? Go watch!
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