In the ’90s shows like Sex and the City and Ally McBeal filled the idiot boxes with career driven plots; money, status, and sleeping with guys from well established families, all the essential attributes of gold-digging. Out of the embers of the hipster movement of television shows; Girls, Portlandia, and the axed Party Down comes Broad City; a sitcom about two pot smoking twenty somethings who live the happy-go-lucky lifestyle in New York City.
Created by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, playing their alter egos (Ilana Wexler) and (Abbi Abrams) Broad City began as a little web-series in 2009 before being eaten up by the Walmart of satire, Comedy Central, home to shows like South Park, Inside Amy Schumer, Futurama, and The Colbert Report.
Debuting Jan 2014, in the timeslot after Workaholics on Comedy Central, Broad City quickly did what Seinfeld did to Cheers, and became the cooler more mature sister. Whereas Workaholics is a show about three stoner telemarketer dudes aimed at the male breekie-bong audience, Broad City is for Gen Y hedonist hipster females, the type of females that would say a big fuck you to Carrie Bradshaw and that whole idea that money and fashion is the only avenue to happiness, because it is not, in the case of Broad City.
The premise is fairly inoffensive. Abbi is a struggling artist (isn’t everyone in New York?) slash gym cleaner. While sweaty towels are frequently hurled at her face, she has aspirations of becoming a personal trainer, with the irony being she is not even fit or very dextrous and her character is more inline with the blundering Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
Ilana works in the sales department of Deals, Deals, Deals; a TravelZoo meets Living Social sort of place where she sometimes disappears hours on end to smoke weed without any repercussions from her pushover boss Todd (Chris Gethard). While ultimately our two female protagonists are not too concerned with their long term plans, (they are far from careerists), we root for them when they attempt Kettlebell classes, or dress appropriately for the office or talk to that ‘cute neighbour’ down the hall. These are all things we can relate to and are modern day social faux pas anxieties.
The success of the show also lies with the genuine portrayal of two female best friends living it large in a big city, a relationship that is actually real in real life. The plotlines are not driven by the ‘frenemy’ dramas like a Gossip Girl or a Melrose Place and thankfully there are no fighting over men, clothes, and life choices. Ilana and Abbi are completely simpatico despite the chaos they often find themselves in. Their friendship is the constant of the show; it never changes.
Broad City embodies the pleasure-seeking view that life is short with the reality being less like Manolo Blahniks and more like working non-dream jobs, making up rent late, odd relationships, being broke, and the humdrum of eating, sleeping, drinking coffee and smoking sweet Mary-Jane.
Broad City is cutting edge, abstract, hilarious, angry, and will have you cringing and laughing out loud. It is miles ahead of the hugely successful and very fictional Girls: at least Broad Cityhas a resident black character, Hannibal Buress (Lincoln), something Judd Apatow and the producers of Girls should address.
It is easily relatable that Ilana and Abbi are always struggling to pay their rent or working shitty jobs to live in NYC. But no-one wants to see that side to NYC, and that’s why shows like Lena Dunham’s Girls is so popular, it makes everything look sparkly-grunge whereasBroad City tells it how it really is. And if you want to get a dose of the less non-career orientated, living day-to-day, pay cheque-to-pay cheque realist perspective, Broad City could even be the modern day Female Eunuch.
This article first appeared on Crikey’s Daily Review. http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au
Front Photo: Getty. Credit: Taylor Hill