Why ‘Broad City’ Is The Anti-‘Girls’

Why 'Broad City' Is The Anti-'Girls'

Broad City,” which wrapped up its first season last night on Comedy Central, has been the most pleasant surprise TV’s offered up in this still-young year, a profoundly funny, bawdy and affectionate half-hour series starring and created by two newcomers, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, with the help of executive producer Amy Poehler. The series, which stars Glazer and Jacobson as outsized versions of themselves, is about being broke and young and a hot mess in New York, which, alongside its focus on female friendship, means it has a lot in common with Lena Dunham’s “Girls.”

But while “Girls” went particularly dark this season (to great effect), delving into drug abuse and using sex as a self-esteem booster and how having a day job can drain you of energy for creative pursuits, “Broad City” is buoyantly joyous and silly. Like Hannah Horvath and her friends, Abbi and Ilana can say and do awful things, and they face daily humiliations and defeats — but it always come out on the light side.

“Girls” deliberately lets its characters grate when they do things like fixate on the future of their ebook at their editor’s funeral, daring audiences to say they weren’t capable of (hopefully less monstrously) narcissistic behavior at that age. It’s easy to imagine a similar scene in “Broad City” being played for big laughs — Ilana already approaches her job at a Groupon-type company with a breathtaking level of nonchalance, so it would make sense that were her boss (Chris Gethard) to die, her first thought would be about what new gig she would need to get to support her pot habit.

They may occupy similar territory — Hannah turned 25 this season, while Abbi’s 26th birthday was the subject of this week’s season closer — but “Broad City” is the anti-“Girls” in its treatment of being young. It’s a celebration of being unencumbered by serious relationships or dependents or career responsibilities — of, say, completely taking for granted the delightful, dependable guy you sometimes sleep with (Hannibal Buress’ tragically underappreciated Lincoln). Abbi and Ilana may be cheerfully oblivious about many aspects of real life in the slightly surreal New York they inhabit, but the series never forgets that can be a blissful thing as well as an embarrassing one. And that was never more evident than in “The Last Supper,” Wednesday’s season finale, in which the pair caused a scene while eating out at a high-end restaurant on Abbi’s parents’ dime.

While Abbi and Ilana got high (in order to better enjoy their clams) and discussed the fact that Abbi peed out a condom that may have been a remnant of an encounter that took place several days ago, their waiter (Seth Morris), whom they were both swooning over as classy, was engaged in an ongoing and bitter fight in the kitchen with his chef girlfriend (Poehler). The interspersed scenes emphasized the protagonists’ ignorance, but also saluted it.

There’s a grown-up world out there of alcoholic sisters and battles over who would keep the apartment in a breakup based on whose name is on the lease, but Abbi and Ilana aren’t there yet. Things still look shiny and fresh to them, even if they can’t afford to pay their own tabs. And later, at the hospital to which Ilana was sent after blithely ignoring her shellfish allergy, they listened to someone die while discussing their own bucket lists, which included the impossible (Ilana’s “to be an Asian girl”) and the amusing (Abbi’s “do heroin under the aurora borealis”).

Life is short, and “Broad City” makes as compelling an argument for not rushing toward adulthood as “Girls” does that youth can be excruciating. And it’s done it while, or maybe by, holding the relationship between Abbi and Ilana steadily at its center. If “Girls” shows, piercingly, how you can hate your closest friends, “Broad City” depicts how you can be in love with them (sometimes literally, with Ilana’s goofy boundary-pushing). Various men are shown passing through Abbi and Ilana’s lives, but their friendship is the most important thing to them (another function of their age), and many of the series’ best scenes are about how much the two of them enjoy just hanging out, ogling men in basketball shorts (until they’re told to leave), discussing the cartoons they had crushes on and which of them is more like Jay-Z or Beyoncé. It’s fitting that the season ended with their walking off into the sunrise together in their mildly inappropriate fancy dresses, happy to be shooting the shit about nothing in particular — thank god they’re coming back for another season.

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Comments

Matt

Oops NVM there are plenty of dudes that posted there opinions ……YAAAASSS QWEEN!

Matt

I’m a dude not that that matters only saying this because all the coments that have been posted to this feed so far have been by dudet’s… But anyways I watch both Girls and Braod City and do not find eather of them alike besides the fact that both shows characters reside in Manhattan. This being said , I fucking love them both but it’s totally obvious that Girls is a comedy drama that deals with serious situations involving these young woman’s lives. While broad city is just a comedy that portraits its characters in a totally non serious light which I find fucking much more hilarious than Girls. Eather way love both shows and will be tuneing In for many more series to come if both shows continue airing new seasons.

Rennie Tyler

Hi Liz,
This isn’t a feminist series because it doesn’t mind if girls are fallible. It doesn’t mind if girls are silly and wanna have fun. It’s almost the opposite of feminism.
I’ve had enough of Scarlett Johansson being larger than life and beating up 20 trained professionals at the same time. I’ve had enough of all of these unrealistic ‘tuff girls’ which is why I really love this series. People like me that I can relate to – humans. They are silly and funny and make mistakes and do stupid stuff. Great to see girls can still be themselves on TV.
Hugs

Liz

This article is ridiculous. It is the opposite of a feminist point of view. Feminism and "what it means to be a girl" is different for everyone. I personally LOVE this series and can relate to it a lot more than 'Girls'. Girls pisses me off because the girls don't take any responsibility for their actions. They are grown children in a far more irritating way. The girls on 'Broad City' take responsibility for their actions and are able to move past them. The conversations are scary realistic and the fact that the episodes end without much resolution (if any) is fantastic because in our lives we don't always get a resolution. Sometimes you just have to forget it, laugh a little and move on. Abbi and Ilana are so close to how my friends and I act (even though we are tad older). We are a bit older so we don't get high constantly and don't slack off at work, but the interactions and conversations are spot on. Not everyone goes through life stressing out about everything and over-dramatizing mundane aspects of life. Good friends and the ability to laugh when life gets sticky is the way I naturally live my life… just like the girls on 'Broad City'.

I hope this show lasts for many, many seasons. My roommate and I can't stop laughing while watching and I've already watched each episode twice. I just discovered it a few days ago so that's saying something. I dread watching 'Girls' sometimes but 'Broad City' could have 100 episodes a season and I would tune in every time.

Leslie

What exactly is a hipster?

Bri.

I'm a 25-year-old woman, and I relate far more to 'Broad City' than I do 'Girls'. To be perfectly honest, I don't even watch 'Girls' anymore because I just found it getting incredibly annoying and far too unrealistic (well, maybe it's kind of realistic for people who come from wealthy backgrounds, but for the rest of us, not even close). But 'Broad City', I love! While their apartments are still inexplicably huge for young New Yorkers (I live in Los Angeles now, but I'm originally from New York and have many friends and family members still in the area), the conversation is much more like the conversations I actually do have with my friends every day. Hipsters or not, this show is good. And for the record, I loathe many hipsters I meet in real life. In my personal opinion, these ladies are hipster only in their poor fashion sense– they don't have that snobby, ironically misguided hipster attitude. I actually think they would get along fabulously with the Workaholics boys.

McQueen

Clearly no accounting for taste, but this show is boring as all hell.

Marley

This show is simply AWESOME! So funny, and refreshing! I wouldn't compare it to Girls, I think the difference is that the characters on this show don't take themselves too seriously as the characters on Girls do . . . and probably shouldn't. I think its by far funnier than girls, and I hope next season continues with the same feel and laughter that this first season was. That Hannibal Burress is amazing too, he and the roommate are hilarious! I hope we get to meet Abbi's real roommate or at least get to why her boyfriend is there and she never is since its really her room he's staying at. . .

Ronnie d.

This show is amazing. Peggy, you're a generalizing cunt who doesn't understand comedy.

Herb P.

These girls aren't hipsters they're a couple of dofuses. Laugh out loud funny.

shelly

Just STOP IT! Everything doesn't have to placed in relation to Girls. This show is funnier and better.

Adam

Wake me up when the young-misunderstood-female hipster-in-NY craze is over…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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