Photo cred: @broadcity Instagram account
This past March, Comedy Central’s Broad City concluded after five seasons on air. Fans of the show insisted that the ending came too early, and though part of me agrees (as I would have enjoyed several more seasons of the show, I’m sure) another part of me was reminded of AMC’s Breaking Bad and how five seasons felt right even as I mourned the loss of the show. The same could be said for Broad City. Five seasons was enough time to introduce us to two dynamic fully-characterized women who worked, loved, partied, smoked weed, attempted to stay informed, and provided each other with an undying, loyal friendship. In five years’ time the show’s creators and lead actors, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, interjected feminism into the general American ether, as well as conversations about mental health and race from the perspective of being oppressed/privileged/and an ally.
And they did all of that with little to no recognition. In a much-needed candid post, Broad City’s Ilana Glazer highlights the fact that the boisterously feminist, intersectional television show that educated as much as it entertained has yet to win an award. I, like many others, present a compelling argument for why these two women and the show they’ve created deserve awards for their last season. For your consideration:
They should have been awarded sooner
Perhaps the best place to start is at the beginning. Broad City was groundbreaking because it tackled topics many other shows did not, particularly shows spearheaded by white women and men. BC was bold enough to not only discuss race issues, but discuss race issues from the perspective of someone who in fact perpetuates issues she’s concerned about. In season five’s premiere episode, Ilana is offered to have her hair braided by a black woman and agrees despite Abbi’s understandable trepidation. Ilana sits with an eager smile while the woman twists one braid (Ilana’s compromise) into her hair. In the next cut, Ilana is swinging the single braid in her hair. “You know what it is? A touch of cultural appropriation sheds light on it,” Ilana explains while whipping her hair back and forth. Ilana-the-character’s lack of self-awareness spoke to real life Ilana and Abbi’s understanding of intersectionality and multiple systems of oppression. As Jewish American women, Ilana and Abbi explore their own oppression and social disadvantages such as having to absorb and neutralize or, more likely, rail against catcalling and anti-Semitic comments and slurs.
image of Ilana twirling a single braid in her hair while she explains how engaging in cultural appropriation shines light on cultural appropriation
It covered a breadth of topics
The best shows are the ones created and produced by people who have their finger on pulse on the general public. Broad City’s topics were not only relevant to millennials, but the American public at large. Whether the topic was dealing with your roommate’s gross and overbearing significant other, graduating from a four year university to have to work a series of jobs outside of your field, losing and regaining the ambition to move forward, or more serious issues such as mental health, BC dares to cast a wide net and handle these topics with a flare for comedy and storytelling. In the wake of its finale, fans can’t help but wonder what will come next. 2 Dope Queens, which originally began as a podcast hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, aired as a four-part special on HBO for seasons one and two. 2DQ is a departure from hearing about race from a white perspective and is a platform created by and for two black women, who are most often disenfranchised by racism, sexism, and possibly even homophobia and transphobia. Crossover fans enjoy the fact that the women behind both of these shows are supportive colleagues.
left: 2 Dope Queens star Phoebe Robinson, right: Broad City star Ilana Glazer
It was hilarious
One of the funniest aspects of humor is its diversity. Humor can come from anything. Slapstick, toilet humor, spoofs, and a variety of other methods. One of the strengths Abbi and Ilana had together was how different their humor was from each other. Each brought something different to the table, but there was an overlap in their skillsets that never gave the impression either woman was lacking. Abbi’s uptight personality lent itself to wonderful character swings that Abbi-the-actor always knocked out of the park, such as Abbi’s competitiveness that culminated in bringing little boys to tears during a basketball game that got out of hand. One time she whacked Gemma several times with a pugil stick during the Soulstice Games in season three’s Game Over episode. Ilana’s physical comedy shown some of its brightest in season one’s The Last Supper. Appropriately named, Ilana spends much of the episode in the throes of an allergic reaction to shellfish she refuses to stop eating. Ilana’s face puffs and swells, leaving patrons of the restaurant disturbed as she assures everyone she knows her limit as if she were drunk and not going into anaphylactic shock.
Abbi also portrayed Val, the alter ego of Abbi when she’s blackout drunk
It’s not too late to honor Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer for the tour de force that is Broad City. The balance struck between wit and crudity at the root of this show not only answers the tired and offensive are women funny? question, it turned the question on its head to say comedy should dare to be intersectional and accessible to all. The entirety of the show carries a message that transcends time in a way that would have made it relevant ten years ago and will likely continue to be relevant decades from now. Broad City will stand as an excellent and necessary television program with or without an award. But an award would serve as an acknowledgement of the craft, skill, and hard work these two women put into this show and this brand for a decade.