The Broads of Broad City
Trust me, being young, dumb, and broke in NYC is a lot more inspiring than it sounds.
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started watching Broad City, the Comedy Central TV show about two twenty-somethings trying to navigate New York City. In the very first episode, main characters Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) and Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) scramble across the city, trying to collect money for a pop-up Lil Wayne concert. They end up in an unusual situation due to a Craigslist ad, where they clean a man’s apartment in their underwear for $200. The man then oddly pretends to act like a baby, diaper and all, to avoid paying them. Ilana and Abbi laugh incredulously, throw insults at him, and take expensive furs and alcohol from his apartment as revenge.
After the first episode, I knew I was in love. The show is wacky, fun, and undeniably hilarious, but it’s also smart. They have mastered the art of being relatable without trying too hard, or coming off as cliché. A perfect example of this is in “Stolen Phone,” when Abbi and Ilana achieve a “high” by taking a feminist initiative: messaging boys on Facebook instead of waiting for them to make the first move. This could have been a cringe-worthy moment, but Jacobson and Glazer know their audience, and they know how to set a scene.
At the same time, although the show is easy to identify with, it’s not afraid to take a risk by facing controversial topics. In one episode, “Rat Pack,” Jaimé, Ilana’s roommate, tells her that she shouldn’t wear “Latina” hoop earrings because she is white, and that could be considered cultural appropriation. Ilana exclaims, “I’ve heard about this!” while looking devastated due to her mistake. These underlying themes are prevalent in the entirety of the series as the girls subtly and humorously tackle racism, sexism, classism, and more. The show not only integrates these relevant topics in a comedic, lighthearted way, but it also holds its characters accountable when they’re wrong on the same topics.
Another charming element of the show is undoubtedly Abbi and Ilana’s dynamic. It’s empowering to see such a strong female friendship with no hint of typical girl-on-girl cattiness. On screen and off screen, us women tend to allow envy and sneakiness into our friendships, making them toxic. The broads of Broad City bring a fresh approach with their real-life, genuine, and supportive relationship. As individuals who face misogyny in our daily lives, it’s imperative that we stick together instead of competing with one another. The show encourages women to do just that, and lots more.
Ilana and Abbi are role models, but not in the classical sense; this isn’t like looking up to the unattainable stature of Beyoncé, or that Instagram model who FaceTunes all of her pictures, no. Instead, they are realistic characters who are reminders to be the loudest, most authentic version of yourself that you can be. In the show, they don’t function as 2D characters with unchanging traits and mannerisms. They mess up, they learn from their mistakes, they grow, and they succeed; and the best part is that they encourage others to do the same. And hey, if that means ignoring your seafood allergy so your best friend can have a great birthday, then so be it!
Following the crazy adventures of these two girls in New York City has been my favorite pastime for years now, and I’m sad to see them go. But like I previously stated, these characters are realistic, and because of that, they can’t remain stagnant on-screen forever. They will finally get themselves together, move into bigger apartments, create stable relationships, and pursue a different storyline that we won’t get to see. In a recent New York Times interview, Glazer and Jacobson express how they’ve come to peace with the fifth season being the last. Glazer admitted,
“I’m finally starting to process it now. It feels like we have two babies, who are our inner children, and we’re sending them off to college. You don’t need us anymore.”
The second episode of the fifth season aired Thursday, January 31st, and was just as entertaining and hilarious as each episode that came before, hinting that this season may just be the best one yet. Even though the show will soon, unfortunately, come to an end, I’m grateful that the characters will always exist, because while Glazer and Jacobson have already learned their lessons from the younger versions of themselves in the show, I still have the rest of my twenties to venture through, and I’ve got plenty to learn.