Women on Television: It's their Broad City and We're Just Living In It

 Photo: IndieWire

Photo: IndieWire

In the midst of avoiding the eye of midterms' storm, and to subsequently celebrate reading week, I binge watched the Comedy Central series Broad City starring Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler and Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams. This fiercely fresh comedy saw the finale of its third season and has been renewed for a fourth and fifth. Rightly so, considering the originality that co-creators Wexler and Jacobson have graced their cult following with, proving that brash and brazen funny women are a force to be reckoned with.

The premise of the show was described by Ilana Glazer in an interview for Jimmy Kimmel Live! as "two knuckleheads running around New York, high". However, this brief summation does not do the critically and commercially acclaimed series justice. While the hijinks that Ilana and Abbi get up to are expertly crafted whirlwinds of laughter, the comedic value of the show is rooted in its ability to pack punchlines that are insightfully hilarious and seamless in their delivery. Broad City transcends the modern formula of cheap sitcoms, making its audience laugh because it is thoughtfully clever without having to rely on kitschy gags and an audience laugh track.

Each half-hour episode features a new adventure for the two gals, such as getting a driver’s license renewed at the DMV, or blackmailing their boss with the exposure of his past as a porn star. Broad City excels at finding the comedic side of the everyday mundane and showing its watchers that no matter how downtrodden we may feel, everything is manageable with some humour and determination. Every season of the show features ten episodes, and the plot arch for each one is neatly tied up with ingenuity, but episodes do not necessarily have to be watched chronologically in order for the viewer to understand what is happening in a specific episode. Broad City episodes succeed as standalone stories, but they excel when experienced as a whole.

In an age where comedians are being challenged to create meaningful content, comedy has become a divided genre. There are classic, Golden Age comedians who do not believe they need to develop their methods in order to relate with an evolved audience of more sensible values, and there are comedians who strive to create profound content that is sharply intuitive rather than offensively cutting. An audience that finds itself siding with the former will also surely find refreshment with Broad City. While it may be hilarious to watch Ilana and Abbi deal with the ridiculousness of temp work or a string of disappointing sexual partners, the reality of life becomes bittersweetly apparent as episodes begin to blend into one of the main messages or themes of the series. Glazer and Jacobson are trailblazers in bringing concepts such as feminism, the LGBTQ+ community, and classist struggles into mainstream media.

Broad City is truly a hidden gem and a noteworthy victory for women in comedy. After two years and three seasons, Glazer and Jacobson have made their prowess apparent, faring favourably both with critics and audiences. While debates over political correctness in comedy will continue to happen, Abbi and Ilana are proof that sensible comedy can be just as jarring without causing casualties.