‘Broad City’ Series Premiere Review: Is This The Anti-’Girls’?

Published 8 months ago by

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broad city pilot panhandling Broad City Series Premiere Review: Is This The Anti Girls?

There is also a slight embrace of the surreal that makes Broad City feel – at times – like a less disciplined or driven version of Louie. Specifically this is seen in the pilot when Abbi and Ilanna are bucket-drum panhandling, only to see their flash-business model come crashing down when an opportunistic break dancer decides to horn in on their territory. The same can be said for the scene where Abbi and Illanna clean an apartment in their underwear to get money from a creepy deviant (as played by Fred Armisen, who joins indie-comic stars Chris Gethard and Hannibal Buress as notable guest stars) so that they can go to a Lil’ Wayne rap concert and avoid a crushing night of stir-fry cuisine.

On Girls, such a horrific event might have (rightly) scarred one of the characters or served as ammunition for a blog post. We’d all be inundated by think-pieces about what Lena Dunham was saying about self-worth when she put one of her characters in a situation where they were willing to go through that kind of indecency for a material thing – but that just isn’t going to happen here. With Broad City, the half-naked maid service joins work and semi-romantic frustrations, furry slacker pseudo-roomate troubles, borderline shop-lifting, pot dealer barter-trading, and sidewalk drinking on the list of things dealt with during a normal NYC day.

broad city pilot hallway Broad City Series Premiere Review: Is This The Anti Girls?

Is it possible that that kind of comedy may come off as too detached from reality, too broad, or too exclusive and standoffish? Is it possible that people might be put off by the show’s indifference to whether you “like” these characters? Possibly, but it’s important to realize that this also feels like the evolution of the kind of un-apologetically cruel and unlikable characters and antic-based-humor that propelled a show like Seinfeld. That show revolutionized the exploration of nothingness in a way that half-inspired the Friends generation of sitcoms that comics like Abbi Jacobson and Ilanna Glazer probably grew up watching (in addition to Seinfeld).

All of these inspirations and similarities don’t mean that Broad City comes off as a work of lazy pastiche, though. It’s true, there are parts of Broad City that feel spiritually linked to shows from the past, but the show’s tone is also confident in a way that is singular and doubtlessly forged by the struggle to come up through the overcrowded Web (Broad City was initially a web series) and bolstered by the approval of someone like Amy Poehler (a producer on the show).

Unlike many other series’ that get to the point of being on a major network, though, Broad City also feels daring and immune to the plague of careerism. You get the sense that Jacobson and Glazer are leaving everything on the screen for you, that they are unafraid to push boundaries (a challenge that stifles something like Two Broke Girls) and that they aren’t looking to use this as a stepping stone. This is them and this is their idea of what funny is. Enjoy it… or don’t, but respect it as more than just “Comedy Central’s version of Girls“.

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Broad City airs on Wednesday nights on Comedy Central @10:30PM ET

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  1. show has a lot of potential. loved the pilot, binged the webseries after. these girls have talent.

  2. The notes on Girls seem accurate for its first season. The second season was seriously awful and showed how vapidly pretentious it really was.

  3. A “magnetized burg” wouldn’t attract “crushable aluminum”, aluminum isn’t magnetic.

  4. it’s less of a girls clone, more of a female workaholics clone. the only parts i laughed at were hannibal burress’ lines

    • This is pretty much exactly the same humor as (a female) Workaholics i.e the same humor as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. And, dare say Park’s and Rec’ (although I dislike that show the last 2 seasons), as this is being produced by Amy Poehler.

      I love how Workaholics adds to the same comedy boat as Always Sunny in Philadelphia in recent years & now I can/should be able to add this into the mix.

    • That was my initial reaction, too. I didn’t watch the premiere, but the ads gave me a “workaholics for chicks” vibe.

  5. Broad City is the funniest comedy series alive right now. Can’t really call it a Girls “clone” because even though the broadcast premiere aired way after seasons of Girls on HBO, Broad City was a web series similar to the comedy central series before Girls season 1 premiere.

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