Jan 14, 2015

Impressions: 6 Ways 'Broad City' Captures Your Twenties (Almost) Perfectly

When I heard about Comedy Central's show, Broad City, the first thought I had was: "Not another show about girls in New York City". No offense to those who live and bite into the Big Apple, but it seems that if you're not from the greater New York City area, and are in your twenties or thirties, single and struggling, you just don't exist, and your story is just not worth telling. It's always a narrow storyline whittled down to one city and often one racial demographic, and yep, it bugs me.

Still I was curious....

Comedians and real life best buds, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer created the show from their web seires, and you know I'm ALL for sistas doin' it for themselves. Amy Poehler producing the show was also some catnip, plus the multiple reviews that I came across that were waving hands in the air to exasperatedly say it was better and much more relatable than the unbalanced act that is HBO's Girls. Okay. Okay. Fiiiiine. You got me.

So I watched the premiere episode via the web, and was...a little 'meh' about it. Yet, because it's a comedy show about women in their twenties, and since I don't bail on shows until I've given them the 'three episodes or you're out' test, I decided to give it another go. So when the full season popped up on Amazon Prime, I dove into it again, and was happy to find that the rest of the season flowed so much better! I fell hard in love with how feminist funny, cringe inducing, and quote-worthy each episode was as they all unfolded like a Gen Y's nod to the zany madcap adventures of Absolutely Fabulous (just substitute the booze with blunts and you're good to go). Plus the show features a rainbow of characters without being forceful or pandering to a demographic ("see look we included you!!"), and that is a huge plus in my book.

Still what captured me more was how even in the swell of crazy, Broad City mirrors some aspects of my roaring and wandering 20s. While it's always difficult to find a show that speaks to you on some selfish level, I feel that Abbi and Ilana are my people, as not an episode goes by without me nodding my head and closing my eyes going, "Yep, I've been there...".

So how does Broad City hit (almost) everything on the nail about my twenties? Allow me to count the six ways...

You Are Completely Lost & Absolutely Unapologetic About It  

Nobody told me my twenties were going to the years where I'd watch the compass points spin around searching for the North direction. In fact, I don't even know where that damn compass is...probably buried under the pile of fashionable infinity scarfs I just had to buy at Sam Moon, and $5 DVDs from Wal-Mart.... Broad City is all about the crazy swirl of waking up, pounding the snooze button, and being totally not sure of where you're going to end up that day, or even that week, and being sort of content with that.

Abbi and Ilana aren't  in a power struggle trying to find or brand themselves. They are just two young girls living from paycheck to paycheck navigating the choppy waters of uncertainty, something that most twenty-somethings can relate to. At the end of the day, they throw their hands up in the air and say "f*ck it, pass me the doughnuts and the rum" because life is short and that whole 'finding yourself' stuff is not something that magically happens, so why pressure yourself? Sometimes the road to discovery is best laid when you're least expecting it, and that's fine.

You're Not The Voice Of A Generation...You're Just An Average 20-Something With A Twitter Account

Broad City receives the obvious comparisons to Girls simply because both shows feature flawed 20-somethings in New York City, and to me that isn't fair. I've only seen a few episodes of Girls, and disliked it mainly for Lena Dunham's preciousness, and her persistence of acting like we should care about four vapid girls.

Broad City strives to divert itself from the upper-middle class banality of Girls as it celebrates being an average nobody. The show knows your twenties are bullshit, and knows that it's not a moment for everyone to be game changers and social media raconteurs, and it revels in all of those failures and girl's night outs (and ins) that normally happen. Abbi and Ilana remind me of myself and my friends, how we eat too much pizza, have mundane jobs at mundane places, freak out over Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, and get deodorant stains on our clothes. There is a realness there, and a relief that sometimes our lives aren't as Instagrammable as we were told they were.

You Have Those Rare Moments Where You're Resourceful

Sometimes you just want to get something done with the quickness or you just want to make an eating session much more festive by putting bacon on all the things, and then you go to your wallet and it's screaming, at you and with you. Welcome to your twenties, where it's all about being broke, desperate, and experimental! Still good news, as in the process of being broke as a joke, and completely short on time, you become highly resourceful, and a magical talent it is.

Chipped furniture is patched with Sharpies, paperclips become Christmas ornament hangers, and in Ilana's case, a vagina becomes the natural Tupperware for weed. Broad City often makes me feel proud of all my spur-of-the-moment DIYs such as the time I once accidentally broke the horse leg off of my Dad's Gunsmoke toy "action figure" while dusting, and patched it up with Gorilla Glue and a finger Band-Aid making it as good as the day he got it in 1959. Boo-yah.

Every Day Is Just Another Day In Awkward Paradise

Whether they are discovering how certifiable insane their neighbors are or are admitting to their crushes of pooping in shoes, Broad City brings the flushed face awkward of being a young hot mess in an adult world. Abbi and Ilana truly occupy a New York City that I could stumble around in while getting gum on my butt as they show how even the simplest, most minuscule interactions can become cringe-worthy.

One of my favorite moments from the series was when Abbi misses picking up a package from her next-door neighbor and crush, Jeremy, and in a determined effort to impress him with how responsible she is, she finds out that she had to retrieve the package at the mail distribution center --- which so happens to be the totally out of the way on a remote island outside of NYC. A normal trip to a mail distribution place becomes a hilarious cringing moment, and I completely went into hysterics when Abbi comes face-to-face with the sole worker named "Garole" who is slurping yogurt and is shrieking about having proper ID. To note, I've been to a mail distribution center to retrieve a wrong addressed package and my experience was almost exactly like how they portrayed it --- and I live in Texas. Universal appeal, y'all.

Oh, and Abbi continues to be me especially when it comes to awkward interactions with crushes, because I know an exchange like this happened maybe once or twice in my life:

Whoops. Slip of the tongue there...

Bad Jobs, Bad Roommates, Bad Sex...Just Everything Bad

An Instagram filter cannot hide the fact that life in your twenties is a lasagna of fail. We have terrible roommates, or like in Abbi's case, have slacker boyfriends of MIA roommates camping out like they pay rent every month. We also have bad sex with good people or good sex with bad people (or no sex to freaking speak of...). And then we roll off the bed and head for jobs where we're underpaid and have to clean toilet bowls out for, and in those jobs we're either playing Candy Crush Saga or napping with our eyes wide open. If we don't have a job, we're then pounding the pavement to find one, and might have a brief careers ventures either walking dogs that look like Judith Light or being a temp....in a temp agency office.

Broad City unleashes the secret, that yes, Virginia you're twenties suck, and that it's much more hilarious when you look back and think about all the measly paychecks you cashed and all the frogs that you kissed. Here's hoping being in your thirties is better...

You've Got Friends In High...& Low Places

Who says its hard to keep and make friends the older you get?

At its heart, Broad City is a story of friendship and Abbi and Ilana have a bond that is one of best on television right now. They are each others feminist hero, where they compliment each other ("she has chocolate brown eyes, and the ass of an angel") or get irrationally happy for the other's success at having their painting of a burger hung in a high-end vegan restaurant. They also tackle the rough patches and shellfish allergies together, and put the wackiness on hold to show how patient and concerned that can be for each other. Even supporting characters like Ilana's drug dealing and tax master roommate Jaime, and friend-with-benefits buddy, Lincoln (played by the hilarious Hannibal Burres) contribute support and laughs in ways that are nothing short of authentic.

We do discover later in the first season that Ilana has some kinda queer love for her bestie (and I wonder if they're going to expand on that in the new season...), but the fact that Broad City attempts to show this is pretty major, and in a world where 'frenemies' is in the lexicon, and reality television shows women acting at their worst when their together, it's great to see a relationship like Abbi and Ilana's celebrate the sisterhood with flaws n' all.

Broad City's second season premieres January 14th on Comedy Central. 

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