A Love Letter To The Best Couple On TV
We need as much of this as we can get.
This piece was first published before the premiere of Broad City’s third season. We’re re-sharing now, as their fourth season hits the air, because whatever, it’s still just as good.
Life can be so hard. There are many moments when someone or something you cherish will be taken away from you. There are things that you won’t get to experience again, and it all results in the torment of heartache that we all feel at some point. I know this because I have consistently felt it in the long 11 months since the last season of Broad City aired. You can build an entire new human inside yourself in 11 months. It is decidedly too long to have to wait for new episodes of a television show.
But sometimes, life will also treat you kindly. Your loved ones finally return to your arms, you experience new and different feelings, and the unrelenting heartache begins to fade. This is what I felt when watching the first episode of Broad City’s third season which premiered this week.
A Lesson For The Uninitiated
Broad City focuses on Abbi and Ilana (Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer in real life), two best friends (also best friends in real life), living out their daily lives in New York City (a real place, look it up on Google Maps if you don’t believe me). But if you don’t already know this, it means you haven’t seen the show, and your priorities in life are therefore completely incorrect. Please stop reading this article, go and watch it all, come back, finish reading, and then send me compliments and cash for improving your life so greatly.
You may have gathered that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings around this show. I love that it features women who are free to discuss sex in an extremely open manner, and have sex because they want to for the purpose of reveling in their own pleasure. I love that they are allowed to be stoners, to be irresponsible, to be careless, to talk back to men, to take up space, and to generally do whatever they want.
They are both funny and weird in their own ways, and I love that the characters of Abbi and Ilana make each other laugh in the show. I love that there is an episode where Ilana dumps a guy because he isn’t funny. I love that Lincoln (Ilana’s casual hookup played by the wonderful Hannibal Buress) is rewarded for his chill respect for Ilana. I love that all of this combines to send great messages to both men and women about women’s real lives and desires.
But most importantly, I love that it’s just fucking hilarious. The old adage that entertainment made by and about women is just for women, and entertainment made by and about men is for everyone can frankly get bent. A show like Broad City is made for people who like excellent comedy. That’s it.
Despite this, Broad City is a show that is constantly compared to others like Girls, and it shouldn’t necessarily be the case. Yes, they are both comedies set in New York, but this is not the reason they’re played off against each other. The comparison largely seems to exist simply because both shows focus on the lives of young women — and that is unimaginative and limiting. Broad City’s exploration of the city and its surrealist bent is more comparable to another show set in New York, Louie, and positioning Girls and Broad City as as an either/or binary does the television landscape (and women’s stories on television) a huge disservice.
But none of this has yet explained why I have such a strong reaction when it comes to Broad City. That is reserved for one very simple reason: it is absolutely my favourite love story on TV.
Broad Types of Love (Pun Intended)
Forget your Mindys and Dannys, Janes and Michaels/Rafaels, or even your Doctor Karls and Susans; Broad City features one of the most supportive and loving relationships ever depicted on screen. It’s not a perfect show — an episode in season two featured tasteless jokes on issues they are expected to do better on; it can hit and miss things like any other comedy. But one thing that can’t be denied is the perfection at its core. The show’s strength and humour is all inextricably wrapped in the relationship between these two women.
This kind of unwavering, easy, and deeply profound female friendship as a main throughline for a television show is still not one we get to see very often. While considering the vast history and expanse of television, it is too easy to point out solitary examples such as The Golden Girls, Laverne and Shirley, Absolutely Fabulous and Sex and the City. But it has come to the fore again in recent times with examples like Maggie and Emma’s impossibly close relationship in Playing House, and the loving friendship between Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler, an executive producer on Broad City) and Ann Perkins in Parks and Recreation; a relationship that was shown over and over again to be more vital than any other.
But nowhere is this type of relationship exemplified more than in Broad City. The friendship between Abbi and Ilana is the only solid and uncomplicated thing that exists in their individual lives. There is no competition; there are never any wavering doubts about the solidness of their friendship, regardless of circumstance. They are just the two women, completely secure in the knowledge that the other is always on their side. They know that no matter what happens, they will have someone to call.
After watching the first episode of the third season, it’s immediately clear that this core of the show is still completely intact. At one point Ilana, always obsessed with Abbi, tells her kind-of-jokingly-but-not-really that they should get married. This builds on the previous seasons where Ilana has made similar kind-of-jokes that her and Abbi should have sex. All of this, besides being a funny running joke, is building a world where we understand that Ilana (who is incredibly open to all experiences), loves Abbi so much that she simply can’t imagine any barriers between them.
This is what sets the show apart. The real-life pair understand that the jokes, the shenanigans, and relationships with other characters can be built in this Broad City world, but they all need to be placed around the unshakeable foundation of Abbi and Ilana’s friendship.
If you don’t like it, you know what Abbi and Ilana would say.
Rebecca Shaw is a Brisbane-based freelance writer and co-host of the comedy podcast Bring A Plate. For dumb jokes and crazed rants, you can follow her on Twitter @brocklesnitch