Last Wednesday, the first episode of Broad City’s third season premiered, and it was everything I hoped it would be. For those who are unfamiliar with Comedy Central’s Broad City, it’s a show produced by Amy Poeheler, chronicling the lives of two best friends in their early 20s—Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer) who live in New York City.
Although the show is now in its third season, the brilliantly written episodes feel more like iterations of high caliber sketch-comedy, which makes it an easy show to jump into regardless of how much background you have. The show itself makes a mockery of millennial-life: waiting an hour for a bottomless mimosa brunch and fighting for your life at a pop-up clothing store sale, just to name two instances in the first episode. Abbi and Ilana have such strong, individualized, quirky identities that are not only easy to relate to, but make you wish they were two of your own friends. In the world of Broad City, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, and a large part of the show’s appeal is the series of mini embarrassments that come one after the other throughout the 21-minute long episode. Undeniably absurd but perfectly plausible, the first episode’s humiliating scenes include a porta-potty being lifted off the ground with someone still inside, the loss of the key to a bike rack down the sewer, having to walk around with the security tag stuck to a new top, and the destruction of an art exhibit while trying to pull off said security tag.
The dialogue between the pair feels refreshing and new— just as natural and self-deprecating as the conversations between you and your own best friend. When combined with the intelligently crafted, and always relatable foibles the duo goes through, the genius of the writing becomes clear. This is a show that is down to earth and knows exactly what it is. Its commentary on hipster culture, pretentious societal norms, hookup culture, and exploration of sexual expression is expertly executed in a way that’s neither overwhelmingly pedagogical nor cliché. Part of the show’s expertise in this realm is how it highlights facets of millennial culture and exaggerates the absurdities until you’re doubled over in hysterics; not only is the comedy unmistakably well-performed by Jacobsen and Glazer, but you too have been mauled while shopping at a big sale, or waited an hour for brunch only to be talked down to by the seating hostess.
Perhaps most importantly, Jacobsen and Glazer bring a much-needed feminist edge to the comedy world. After all is said and done, their sense of self proves to be an indomitable force throughout all the hijinks and humiliating mess-ups, and they strike a brilliant balance between relatable humiliation and female empowerment, which may be the show’s greatest strength.