A couple of broads
I’ve never been a huge Amy Poehler fan. As funny as she’s been on Saturday Night Live, I haven’t yet immersed myself in her Parks and Recreation world, despite literally every single friend of mine recommending it, and telling me to persist past the awkward first season.
Instead, I’ve pushed past the whole series altogether, in favour of Broad City, originally created in webisode YouTube form by two sweet “lesser knowns”, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Abbi and Ilana’s laughter medicine is spoon fed with flawless delivery, witty dialogue and perverse New York caricatures, catching Poehler’s attention and subsequently being appropriated for the bigger little screen, with season 1 airing earlier this year.
I have new-found respect for Poehler, for discovering and supporting clever accessible comic relief for tv which has become saturated in gritty hard-hitting drama. I’ve loved Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story and Utopia. So much thought and time has gone into these shows, and yet they leave me feeling like I should take a knife to my throat and be done with this dark and unforgiving world.
Unlike Girls, which has been declared its counterpart, the girls of Broad City aren’t trying (even if it’s in ironic vain, and self-aware) to be “a voice of a generation”. They are bringing us back to simple shits and gigs. The mediocre delights of an economic world obsessed with career and legacy building have no place here.
Broad City’s leading broads, Abbi and Ilana, are not destined for success, worried about how they are making the world a better place just by being themselves; they are getting on with it. Abbi hopes to become an instructor at the gym where she is a cleaner, and also hopes her drawings gain notoriety. But these hopes aren’t driving any plot, they serve only to remedy the potentially demeaning seriousness of her bread winning job.
While Broad City teases at societal issues, it doesn’t linger on the criticisms and drag us down to the grit. In the first episode Abbi and Ilana (who spends most of her working hours sleeping atop a toilet) skip out of work to go and make money so they can see a Lil Wayne gig. While this quietly nods at the irony that they should need to leave work to make money, the episode focusses more on the oddities of the city, as a hipster steals the show when they attempt to make money by banging on buckets, only to reluctantly clean a weirdo’s apartment in their underwear and not get paid for their efforts.
There is a beautiful honesty to this series, the same kind of honesty conveyed in Seinfeld, and somehow forgotten in our exploration for meaning in a world that dishes out whatever it likes, regardless of what we want. And this is something to laugh about, not over-analyse, which I’ve done here.
Season 2 of Broad City returns in January 2015. Until then, Abbi and Ilana have recommenced webisodes, Hack into Broad City (basically just fucking around, to our idiotic joy).