Broad City wrapped up its second season this week with a tribute to the St. Mark’s Place neighborhood in New York City. For anyone who has spent a night out in New York, especially in the summer as the weather is finally turning and people are climbing out of the confines of their apartments, this episode offers a perfectly clear portrait of roaming around the city, down to crust-punk-assaulting-you detail.
Broad City centers around two young women named Abbi and llana, crafted after the show’s creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, and the unfurling adventures that come from living in NYC. While the show’s first season was all about introducing Ilana and Abbi in their element, the second season has been building out their individual ecosystems. We met Ilana’s brother at his dog’s wedding. We spent more time with Bevers, Abbi’s roommate’s boyfriend who has taken unwelcome refuge in their shared apartment. For Hannibal Burress fans, this season was spent giving considerable attention to his character, Lincoln, Ilana’s somewhat steady booty call.
Ilana and Abbi attract a dynamically strange cast of cohorts; whenever they have the chance to interact, it is a combustion of well-orchestrated discomfort and hilarity (think Ilana’s family at the shiva, discussing Abbi’s latest conquest). By introducing more characters, and giving them larger room to develop, Ilana and Abbi were able to expound upon the stoner motif that laid the foundation for their success. The two women can often be seen toking up by any means necessary but now we were able to experience their peers, who are equally as strange and uncouth as the main characters, just sans smoke-filled sheen. Actors Paul Downs and Stephen Schneider make the absolute most of their respective characters Troy, Abbi’s boss at a boutique gym, and Jeremy, Abbi’s next-door crush, so much so that some of the season’s most gut-busting moments come from their brief engagements.
As nice as it is to see Abbi and Ilana’s greater worldview, the draw of Broad City is how close the two main characters are. Two best friends, who share a distinctly warped existence, love for marijuana, and zeal for all questionable early 20-something activities – it’s a model that works. Abbi and Ilana are sympathetic and kind, sometimes obsessively so, and their simplified platonic adoration of each other rings of the Cheech and Chong, Rogen and Franco archetype. But as a woman, I’ve always felt a sort of distance from those comedies because they were so stringently cast with men. Broad City is equally as accepting of vagina jokes as it is about female masturbation. It allows women to be crude, dumb, and highly sexual without being sexualized.
There’s a lot of room to grow, however; the season’s opener, titled “In Heat,” left viewers feeling like the two creators’ attempts at providing sharp, timely satire (in this case about consent and rape) fell short in offering any substantial commentary on rape culture at large. And while there were undeniable pitfalls that befell the second season, Glazer and Jacobson’s talent for pinpointing the absurd and then rising to meet that insanity head on, coupled with their endearing if not misguided characters, is what will bring audiences back for Broad City, season three.