The Freeness of Broad City

Broad City is my favorite comedy right now next to Archer and Veep. It is the most consistently funny, irreverent and well-paced show. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are an incredibly talented duo. Talking about Broad City on the internet doesn’t seem to be as frequent as it was last season when it was being posited and upheld as the anti-Girls, and it was something new and fresh to an ecosystem that’s always looking to grind their teeth into new and fresh things to suck out anything worth turning into free content and meaningless discourse. While the second season has surpassed the first in quality and laughs, it’s lost that new show smell and, like most sitcoms, the stakes aren’t high enough to encourage devout appointment viewing; so it’s now phased into a second mode as just a solid, consistent show with a cult following and a number of people who catch it later.

The most fascinating aspect of Broad City to me is something I didn’t even pay attention to at first. There’s understood freeness in the world created by this show, most visibly in Ilana. At the beginning of the series, Ilana was romantically involved with Franklin–played by Hannibal Burress–but he was never explicitly her boyfriend and throughout the series, Ilana dates and hooks up and flirts and is open about her sexuality in a positive and affirming way. Franklin comes out whenever the show feels like using him but he’s not postured as a traditional romantic lead. It’s a quietly wonderful thing and even better, it’s never openly dealt with. It’s all just understood that this is who Ilana is and there’s no need to rationalize or justify this behavior: it just is what it is.

Abbi serves a purpose as the proto-straight woman. She’s a class A fuck up in a recognizable way. You root for her to get a training class at the gym she works at, or to find a new apartment or to hook up with some new weird dude or even just to make it through an episode unscathed. It doesn’t really rely on narcissism or sourness as code for complex in a way that shows up in a Girls. These two just co-exist together and try to make each day a success in whatever way they choose to define it each episode. There’s freedom in defining success on your own terms.

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