When it was originally on: 2014-2019
Original network: Comedy Central
Where you can stream it now: Hulu
Had I seen it before: I had seen a stray episode here and there when I happened to have Comedy Central on already, but never gone out of my way to watch it. I can’t say sure whether or not any of those stray episodes were the pilot.
What IMDb says: Broad City follows two women throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time.
Why I picked it: I know several friends with similar tastes to mine that love Broad City. It’s always seemed like I show I would really like if I watched enough episodes to really “get it.” Part of the struggle is that Comedy Central shows just seem to have a different rhythm than network sitcoms, and that always takes some getting used to for me. In my quest for a wide array of television programming, I found it was actually incredibly difficult to half-hour originals from basic cable, and there’s even fewer that are as successful as Broad City. There’s also relatively few half-hour comedies in general where women are the primary creative force behind the show, (it’s no coincidence that I picked this on International Women’s Day). And so Broad City made The List.
What I liked: The Abbi/Ilana dynamic is perfect, and manages to be both relatable and aspirational at the same time. They remind me of Tommy and Chuckie from Rugrats, with one person coming up with wild ideas for adventures and the other being hesitant but always going along with it anyway. I can see how this would set up just as many misadventures as Rugrats, and the fact that I don’t really get to know any other characters in the pilot isn’t a problem because Abbi and Illana provide enough story fodder and enough charm to keep me interested (although Hannibal Buress as Lincoln is delightful!).
This is also a great example of how you don’t need to explain everything to your audience. I don’t need to know how long Abbi and Ilana have known each or other or how Abbi and Ilana first met. I don’t need to know how long they’ve lived in New York. I don’t need to know when they tried weed for the first time. This whole pilot is just watching two friends be friends and pretty much anyone can watch this and be like “okay, they’re friends, great, what’s next?” One of my favorite parts comes when Ilana is drunk off her ass and rather than letting her roommate take care of her,
Another super smart choice is that this whole episode is about trying to earn money, yet that money isn’t actually for anything important, just weed and concert tickets. This helps make our central duo super relatable, because we’ve all wanted things we can’t afford. But yet we also don’t really get the sense they’re able to cover basic living expenses, and so the show is still light enough to be a comedy. Our protagonists don’t feel like spoiled brats, but I also don’t feel like a terrible person for laughing at their problems because they’re not actually poor.
What I didn’t like: This is one of those shows that equates awkwardness with comedy. I might’ve had a little chuckle here and there, but overall I didn’t think it was really my type of humor. A scene that’s awkward and cringe-inducing is not automatically funny simply because it’s awkward and cringe-inducing, but Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson just seem to have a difference of philosophy in that regard.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: I would not be opposed to it, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way for it. That being said, if you have any favorite episodes that you would show a non-fan to try and convert them I am all ears!