What “Broad City” taught me

We can all learn so much from two Jewesses in New York City.

Patriarchy got you down? If so, I’ve got just the show for you.

via GIPHY

Broad City is so much more than a sitcom. The show, now on its fifth season, began as a web series in 2010 to be picked up later with the help of Amy Poehler and Comedy Central. Broad City stars its creators; Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler and Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams.

It follows the amusing day to day lives of two young Jewish women getting by in New York City. Full of feminist ideology, brilliant cameos and laugh-out-loud humor, it’s hard not to like Broad City.

The stars depict the kind of sexual, self-assured, free-spirited women many of us aspire to be. At the same time, all of the characters are so real, proudly offering their flaws to be on display. As one New Yorker article describes, Abbi and Ilana are the “broke, horny, heedless, daffy, mostly benign, occasionally brilliant” protagonists that no other show has so accurately depicted. Smoking weed, working average jobs, sleeping with various men and women, Abbi and Ilana rarely show anything but contentedness about their circumstances.  In this way, Broad City breaks free from all of the stigmas associated with a more or less hedonistic (but innocuous) lifestyle.

It is their collective wit, weirdness and painfully bad luck that make each episode so ridiculously funny. Abbi and Ilana embody these qualities individually, but when they come together as best friends, their devotion to each other creates a powerful unit.

Abbi and Ilana are the absolute best of friends, both on the show and in real life. There has never been such a carefree female duo with their own television show. The two are consistently in support of each other, empowering one another, regularly exchanging their sex stories and their joints. They put each other’s needs before their own, before any other friend, work or a love interest. They don’t put each other down, and they would do absolutely anything for each other. While Ilana is more wild and outgoing and Abbi more responsible and shy, neither ever overtake the other as main character. In this way, Broad City breaks free from the problematic nature of many TV relationships.

Never have I seen a show so real, funny and unafraid to shed humor on the worst of things — the actual state of things — in Queens or Brooklyn or across the world. I often find myself angry about issues like racism, homophobia and misogyny, and I know in real life Abbi and Ilana are, too. I mean, just check out their sweet NY Pride float.

But the show manages to explore these themes in a blunt yet whimsical manner. They recognize that real issues pervade everyday life, and they provide a sort of comic relief for it all.  One example is Abbi and Ilana’s sassy replies to cat-callers.

So why does Broad City speak to me beyond the feminism, liberalism and Judaism that we share? More than anything, the way these women live their lives gives respite from the high-stress environment of college. It displays a certain naivete we all have and are simultaneously scared to still have. It takes the pressure off. It allows me to go easier on myself. Because not only are they not living the dream lives to which many college students aspire — high-level jobs, six-figure salaries, spouses and kids — but because they are sublime in doing so.

On the surface, Broad City is a hilarious, relatable show. On a deeper level, however, we (the many viewers) find ourselves less ashamed of the people we truly are.

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(9) Comments

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