Yas Queen: Youth, Friendship and Absurdity in Broad City
If you are young, woke and female (although not exclusively) then you should be watching Broad City. It’s like Girls, only happier and more relatable. The show follows two twenty-something Jewish women living in New York City as they attempt to negotiate adulthood, independence and being poor enough to genuinely consider cleaning for some creep in their underwear for a couple of hundred quid.
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s show started out as a web-series on YouTube, but it soon caught the attention of Amy Poehler (SNL, Parks and Recreation, the overenthusiastic ‘cool mom’ from Mean Girls) who became the executive producer as it jumped over to the silver screen. The television budget allowed for their creativity to thrive and there are some utterly brilliant moments to come from it, as well as some true friendship goals. You see, at this bizarre crossroads between adulthood and childhood often comes a sinking feeling that the friendships which have helped provide the foundation on which you have built your adult life are slowly falling away from you as life gets in the way. With Ilana and Abbi, there is no fear of that. They are the perfect snapshot of what it feels like to be this age, this lost and this immature.
Both characters work in jobs which they do not enjoy and are simply a means to make ends meet. Somehow, however, they mostly seem to be enthusiastic, happy and hopeful - which slowly gnaws away at the dread in my soul about having to have responsibilities. They deal with annoying roommates, modern dating and living in a post-Tr*mp world (they even bleep his name), but overall the center of the show is their friendship. In fact, their newer YouTube shorts (a series called Hack into Broad City, check it out at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD7nPL1U-R5qn53AnmppXrBMoUwAEawWv) simply revolves around the friendship of the two girls as they discuss weird things (and do weird things) over video-chat to each other.
It is also filled with absurd comedy and irresponsible behaviour - they smoke so much weed I actually wonder how they get anything done - but they never really seem to feel ashamed of anything they do, which is refreshing to watch. For some reason every female-centric comedy show usually has the characters frequently be self-conscious about the things that go wrong in their life, which doesn’t always sit well. Can you imagine if Entourage had the main characters wallowing in self-hatred and shame? The girls of Broad City are closer in sensibility to Elaine Benes (Julia-Louis Dreyfus) from Seinfeld than the girls from Sex and the City - they simply mess up and move on. The show also brilliantly and openly discusses things such as sexuality and mental health. Ilana Glazer’s character, Ilana Wexler (she took her mother’s maiden name for the character's surname), is vocally bisexual, discusses sex and her needs with her partners and encourages Abbi to do the same. She also casually mentions the fact that she goes to therapy and takes anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. It’s so off-the-cuff that it seems kind of weird that anyone would even remotely think of it as something to be ashamed of. In a season 3 episode where the girls are going on a trip together, Abbi calls Ilana to make sure she’s packed all her medication and they congratulate each other for having packed “like adults”, because after all, looking after yourself and your mental health is something that responsible adults should do.
The hope and love which permeates this show makes it wonderful to watch. It’s also incredibly relatable (just look how enthusiastic the two are when Abbi receives $8000 for a drawing she did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tDN5DYsNk0). But mostly, I love this show because I know exactly what it is like to have female friends who I would happily FaceTime on the toilet; I know exactly what it’s like to be a girl who yells at catcallers in the street and I know exactly what it’s like to try and navigate a newly adult life with nothing but the hope of a party at the weekend and a pile of bills I don’t know what to do with. If you are also that person, you’d love Broad City.