OldVenue, TV

Broad City

Broad City, starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, is a relatively new web-series adaptation that works off a brand of comedy which typically excludes women. Stoner, slacker comedies – the likes of That 70s Show and Workaholics, and movies like The Hangover – usually feature men in their twenties struggling with adult responsibilities, skipping work, getting drunk, having sex, embarrassing themselves, and taking nothing seriously. In most examples, women are designated the role of Responsible Grown-Up. They throw the parties that the men wreck; they criticise the main characters for their immaturity and laziness; they get the men out of trouble and clean up the chaos they incite everywhere they go. Broad City turns this trope on its head with two women with a bare minimum of common sense between them proving that sometimes all you need is to shout at strangers about your junk.

Image: TV Yaddo

It’s been frequently compared to Lena Dunham’s Girls, and it’s easy to see the similarities: both are shows focused on female friendship and growing up in New York City, and both are created and produced by the main stars. However, this is where the similarity ends. Girls feels like an idealistic view of being twenty-four in NYC – entertaining ambitions and striving to be the best you can be – while Broad City feels like the drug-addled, mostly nonsensical victory song of people who literally just don’t care anymore. It’s not glamorous. Abbi is a cleaner at a local gym and spends most of her working hours scrubbing toilets, and an aspiration of hers is to move up in the world to work at Bed, Bath & Beyond, where they have air-conditioning; Ilana, on the other hand, has an office job that she rarely turns up to, and when she does, sometimes brings along a Whacky Arm-Waving Inflatable Tube Man “for morale”. It’s self-deprecatingly funny, and usually surreal enough that viewers of a similar age can console themselves that they’re not doing too bad by comparison – although at times it’s deeply uncomfortable (imagine waiting for your date to pull paper towels out of the sweaty crack of his ass on a hot day before you get down to business) and at other times just plain strange (have you ever seen a grown man scream at someone else’s kitten for trespassing?)

I’m not here to convince you that Broad City is the better show – Girls is critically-acclaimed world-wide for a reason, after all – but with its inclusion of a wider cut of society than simply the straight, white, middle-class college graduate, a script like a rollercoaster, and stoner humour up there with the best of them, it’s well worth watching.


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