May 7, 2021 | LIFE | By Olivia Hahnemann-Gilbert | Illustration by Xixi Qin
As one wise soul once inquired, “Do you ever get hair from your head stuck in your buttcrack in the shower?”
This wise soul is Ilana Wexler, my personal heroine and one of the two main characters of the ingenious Comedy Central sitcom “Broad City.”
“Broad City” features two best friends, Abbi Abrams (played by Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (played by Ilana Glazer), living it up in New York City. The show captures their many shenanigans as they navigate life as new adults, and more importantly, centers around the growth and profundity of their friendship.
The show is creative, hilarious, daring, and, I would even argue, revolutionary, for a multitude of reasons. In this article, I will do my best to put into words the countless reasons why I believe that “Broad City” is so exceptional.
- It is the epitome of comedic genius.
Simple as that. The show’s beautifully written comedic material is carried out amazingly by actresses Jacobson and Glazer, who each possess a unique style and make the show hilarious throughout. Funny one-liners seem to arise nearly every sentence, and they will have you rolling on the floor within seconds.
The essences of the characters and events which ensue throughout the show are impressively creative and unique, giving the show its very own humorous flavor.
2. It depicts an alternative purpose or ‘happy ending’ for women in television.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the reasons for the show’s greatness. Jacobson and Glazer, as the stars and co-creators of “Broad City,” use their show as a platform for feminist activism in a variety of ways.
One way this has stood out to me is through the portrayal of the main characters as women who are not consistently striving to obtain a male partner.
A common archetype for women in popular culture is the woman who is unhappy until she finds a partner, especially a male partner, with whom she finally can live happily ever after.
Although Abbi and Ilana encounter romantic and sexual escapades with other people in the show, the focus of the show is their friendship with each other and how it serves as a light in both of their lives.
In addition, they are portrayed as maintaining the same sense of value when they are single, when they are in queer relationships, as well as when they are in heterosexual relationships. However, none of these relationships are the center of the show.
The importance of self-love and growth, more than anything, are emphasized through the development of each character.
In my own experience, “Broad City” was one of the first shows which provided female role models who were depicted as being happy and valuable independent of their relationships with men.
This challenges the narrative of a female character’s significance being attached to her romantic relationships with male characters.
I believe that this representation of women is still greatly lacking in much of television, and thus, “Broad City” stands out as a show which can be empowering for many female-identifying viewers.
3. It normalizes many thoughts, emotions, and behaviors which are judged when they are found in women.
This is what I believe to be the key to the radical nature of “Broad City.”
Often, the definition of ‘normalcy’ for women is misconstrued; many normal parts of existence for women are often judged and even pathologized.
While watching, one can tell that de-stigmatization of these elements is a priority of Jacobson and Glazer.
This is shown in the relatability of the main characters. The show attempts to depict Abbi and Ilana’s interactions with one another as well as with themselves in a way that does not hide behind a facade of what is commonly deemed ‘acceptable’ for women.
However comical the opening quote of this article may be, it exemplifies this normalization of female thought and behavior. In this example, Ilana is expressing curiosity about a phenomenon which naturally occurs for everyone, yet women are often discouraged from being open about it.
Although the example may seem trivial, it epitomizes the show’s constant push to de-stigmatize normal, everyday parts of being a human woman.
This is also applied to larger topics such as sexuality and mental health; “Broad City” makes a point of being incredibly open about sex, queerness, masturbation, depression, anxiety, and many other aspects of these subjects, which tend to be taboo.
For me, to see a representation of women who experience these various facets of life in such a genuine and unashamed manner is beyond beneficial to my own wellbeing.
After watching an episode, I distinctly feel more confident and empowered – I attribute this to the show’s ability to normalize what I have previously been taught to be ashamed of.
Although my rhetoric surrounding the greatness of “Broad City” may have hyped it up a substantial amount, I strongly encourage anyone in need of a new pastime to start watching. You can watch it on Comedy Central or Hulu.