Perhaps only when it comes to media, I love being proven wrong. I love when a thoughtful piece of pop culture analysis makes me look at something in a different way. The result is often finding enjoyment in an artist or show that I had previously dismissed. In this case, the show is Broad City, and the analysis is ScreenPrism’s video “What’s So Great About Broad City.”
I had watched a few Broad City clips on YouTube, but I wasn’t sure that I connected to these two women. Is it because of the limited number of female-centric stories that we desire to see ourselves reflected in the ones that do exist? Granted, the explosion of quality series across different media platforms (cable, streaming, etc.) has certainly produced a greater diversity of stories. And I may not relate to some aspects of the Broad City characters’ lives, like recreational drug use, but I find myself drawn to the heart of the show. ScreenPrism cited the deeply supportive friendship between Ilana and Abbi as a defining aspect of the show, and that description is what finally made me want to watch.
The lack of boundaries in Ilana and Abbi’s friendship, and particularly Ilana’s obsessive love for Abbi, is played up for laughs. Yet the affirmations and lack of judgment between them reflect the best of what female friendships can be. It puts me in mind of another favorite comedy, Parks and Recreation, and the overzealous love that Leslie has for her best friend Ann. Appropriately, Parks and Rec‘s Amy Poehler was an executive producer on Broad City for the first three seasons. You know I love me some Amy Poehler, even if it’s just her executive producing essence. She’s all about women raising each other up, and by supporting these two female comics, she practiced what she preaches.
Broad City breaks other TV conventions in its treatment of the women’s romantic relationships, which are usually secondary to the plot and rarely romanticized. For instance, Abbi’s crush on her sophisticated neighbor is a running joke of the first two seasons. When she finally confesses her feelings, things go wrong almost immediately. It’s radically different from the model of many TV shows, keeping their endgame couple apart with “will they or won’t they” nonsense until final moments. However, it’s closer to what would likely happen in real life since Abbi and Jeremy are very different to begin with. In my experience, it’s a rare thing for long-time crushes to end in a relationship.
ScreenPrism also points out that Ilana and Abbi experience frequent setbacks on their path to personal growth, which is not typical of a comedy series but certainly truer to life. This is probably a big part of why the show resonates with young viewers. I, for one, appreciate seeing twentysomething heroines without perfect wardrobes or a clear career path. So tell your friends how awesome they are and have a laugh with these funny, flawed broads.