“BROAD CITY” ISN’T JUST FUNNY, IT’S AN EXPERIENCE
The show is an education.
A lot of people want to be care-free. Of course that word can mean something different to different people, but generally it means being your most authentic self without worry about how others perceive you. It’s typically modelled by a sexy actor or figure in movies or even TV shows, but as effortless as a care-free character is presented to be, it’s actually hard to achieve that personality in a character. This is why “Broad City” is enchanting.
Sometimes it’s natural to ignore public raves about a series since many cower to the pressure of knowing that many people like an art and so they feel that they must like it as well. It’s why I put off watching Broad City for so long—believing that people were overhyping the show. But Broad City encompasses that feeling of revelation from realizing the magic in something that proven to obscure and difficult to conceive of, and yet moving because of it. It’s entirely because of how eccentric and yet lovable Ilana is.
The focus of the series, best-friends Ilana and Abbi, are ridiculously amusing. The show, which is written by and based off of the real life dynamic between Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, is a perfect representation of a loving and warm adult female friendship. Ilana is a directionless, yet confident, intelligent woman with a welcoming and silly countenance that she uses to primarily make people feel comfortable in her presence. Although Abbi is older, she is mousy and lacking in self-confidence, but she is also caring, attentive and reliable. The series follows their life as they strive to attain success and financial stability in New York. The show beautifully grasps the nuance and tenderness that is often the foundation of healthy friendships among women, allowing the leads to make mistakes, learn, and even grow together.
Though the show is initially startlingly, and perhaps off putting because of Ilana’s weird tendencies and often, intense bursts of passion (coupled with Abbi’s, passive and often submissive tone) it’s a fun watch. Indeed there are still a lot of jarring situations in the show. For instance, it’s quite upsetting to watch as Abbi willingly submits to being taken advantage of at work but in the end, the show creates space for her to flourish alongside Ilana. In fact, Abbi grows more confident in her abilities and her identity as the show progresses and she becomes unrecognizable as the passive aggressive coward she once was.
Still, the true magic of “Broad City” is the ability for the series to transcend a feeling and attitude of being carefree in circumstances which, under normal events and given proper attention, would be considered terrible. Ilana, is a drifter, financially unstable, and unable to maintain a stable position because of her inability to focus and practice hard work ethics when she’s not interested in something. Abbi, on the other hand has an idea of what she would like to do: art, but no tangible plans to make her dreams feasible and as a result, is dragged along by the need to keep up with her cost of living. Yet, their life is full of fun and happy moments. They seem to have a shield against regular worries typical of adulthood such as finding love, buying a home, saving for retirement or simply just maintaining a certain type of beauty standard. They really don’t care about anything as long as they have each other.
Their life is absolutely utopic, because given how much they lack in their financial resources, it’s hard to conceive of how they are able to make a living, but the irony is, that’s not where the realism really waivers. Where finances are concerned, it’s shown that Abbi and Ilana are inventive and innovative when finding ways to pay rent and other upkeep. For Ilana, that means inventing a business on the whim like “SheWork” or in Abbi’s case, selling her art. The actual true mind-boggling part is their ability to maintain a sort of serenity despite all of the chaos of their lives, finding peace in one another, and stability in the unknown. They have no idea what their life will look like in five years but they are not stressing heavily about it. In the culture of burnout, they are the exact opposite; they are calm and almost always, doing the absolute bare minimum.
The juxtaposition of the two characters provides viewers with a personality to connect and empathize with. Ilana is mesmerizing, idealistic and so up-lifting. Her openminded-ness is layered and edifying. She takes a unique perspective on cheating, on open relationships, friendships, and her entire mantra becomes natural and understandable after a while. Through the entire series, she uplifts people instead of putting them down. Her characterization is part of what makes the show such a feel-good content. Abbi is a typical insecure person at her core and she’s lived so much of her life acquiescing to others and trying to please everyone but her friendship with Ilana provides her with the perfect catalyst to encourage her to assert more of her personality. The fact that the two central characters are so different yet complementary and agreeable, really provides a central magnet for the show such that other secondary characters seamlessly help to make them shine while they somehow also maintain their own identities. The show affirms the idea that female friendships can be akin to those of familial relationships. That rejection in love is touogh but normal and that you can come back from it. It also teaches that sexuality is natural in almost all forms and that there are multiple ways of looking at almost every perspective. This can be seen in episodes such as when Abbi goes on a date with her teacher wherein, they simultaneously talk about power dynamics in romantic relationships.
The show asserts that nearly anything can be made normal and it forces us to really look at women and female friendships in renewed visions. The lessons are plentiful: sex and plenty of it is OK; it’s even encouraged! There are no boundaries to the level of friendship you can have with your friends and relationships are continuously evolving and they are meant to be adding instead of taking away from you. These types of complex and nuanced ideas are made understandable and easy in “Broad City”. That is the true genius of the show. It’s a perfect medium to teach and display different ways of being chill and in a very very funny way.