Late to the Party: Broad City

I’ve written a lot about how much I love the ladies of Parks and Recreation, and one of the reasons I love the show is Ann and Leslie’s friendship, which reminds me so much of my relationship with my best friend Erin. We always say that we’re just like them, so much so that when I saw a Buzzfeed quiz titled “What TV BFFs are you and your best friend?” I almost sent it to her without taking it to say that of course we already knew the answer. Then I decided to take it anyway, made my choice for the last question, and waited as the results, Leslie and Ann from Parks and Recre… wait, what? Abbi and Ilana from Broad City?

Suddenly I had to reevaluate my life.*

*I did not. If a Buzzfeed quiz forced me to reevaluate my life, I would immediately have to re-reevaluate my life.

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I’d heard about Broad City, but I’d never seen it, so I checked out the first episode. And then immediately watched the nine episodes after that.

One of the things I really like is that the characters of Abbi and Ilana, in the hands of different creators, could have easily been male—they drink, smoke, talk about sex, swear, fit all the often-accurate stereotypes of males in their demographic. They could easily be male… but they’re not. They’re women who drink, smoke, talk about sex, swear, and so on. Because women do that. And it’s normal.

These things that are considered typical evidence that “boys will be boys” are often portrayed in the media as acts of rebellion or reactions to conflict for girls. Even in shows that are otherwise extremely female-positive and feminist-oriented. Sure, the women in Orange is the New Black drink and swear and sleep around, but they’re also all convicts. Unless it’s a show like Skins where every character is involved in these sorts of things, female characters engaging in behaviours that are stereotypically coded male are often doing so because of some deeper issue. In Broad City, Abbi and Ilana are doing them for fun.

The other thing I really love about the show is that it’s about two young women who are still trying to get their shit together. Remember how on One Tree Hill Peyton was able to run a bar/venue at, like, age 16, just because she was really passionate about music? Abbi is 26 and works as a cleaner at a gym where she dreams of being an instructor and/or quitting to pursue her art. Much more relatable.

The characters struggle, and while the way they do it is obviously over the top for entertainment purposes, it’s also in a way that I—we, even, twenty-somethings still trying to figure ourselves out—can understand. When they make mistakes, it’s not in a massive, explosive way that comes after years of being practically perfect (looking at you, Rory “boat thief” Gilmore*).

*whom I still love and relate to more than almost any other character in the history of popular culture

I’m still not sure Abbi and Ilana are more the television versions of myself and Erin than Leslie and Ann, but I do love them and the show. Hurry up, season 2!

Still my fave friendship though

Still my fave friendship though

Hey, beautiful

Like most of the internet-using population, this week I watched a video of a woman walking around in New York City for 10 hours, and the 100+ instances of street harassment she encountered.

[Note: I am choosing not to link to the video because I find it suspect that “for whatever reason,” to quote the creator, nearly all the white street harassers were edited out. Instead watch this Daily Show clip where the always-awesome Jessica Williams discusses the same topic.

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Like most women, even before I watched the video, I knew what I would hear. “Hey, beautiful,” “Smile,” “You don’t wanna talk?” “Bitch.” 

I’ve heard these things before. I’ve heard them in big cities and small towns; when I’ve looked my best and when I’ve looked my worst; at night on a near-empty street and during the day in a crowd; with friends and when I’m by myself; by nicely-dressed guys and guys who look like they’ve never showered; in English, Spanish, and a sort of animalistic grunting; in voices that are pretending to be nice and voices that aren’t even trying.

I don’t think I get harassed any more than the average woman—and that’s what worries me. And I don’t think I have anything to say that couldn’t be said by most other women, and that’s why it needs to be said once more.

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8 Simple Rules for Female Sports Fans

I know this may be coming a few weeks too late for my fellow female football/soccer fans, as the leagues have already been going since August in most countries. Hopefully you’ve been struggling through, but it’s international break and I’m bored without football so whether you follow that or the other football or baseball or hockey or any of those other SUPER MACHO MANLY SPORTS, here’s a little guide for being a “real” fan:

Now, if you got into football during the World Cup, you may have seen this handy list floating around:

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Wow, so helpful! In case your already tiny brain is too addled by nail polish remover to read it, let me summarise:

8. Act as your man’s (lesbians, this means you too! Find a man to look after when SPORTS are on the screen) servant during the match, sexually and otherwise.

7. Don’t pretend to understand or care about the game; we know you just want to see the shirtless sweaty men. As you know, men never watch sports in order to see shirtless sweaty ladies.

Aww, Becks, what a cutie.

Aww, Becks, what a cutie.

6. Pretend you went to the Milford School and be neither seen nor heard. In other words, fade into the scenery like the object you are!

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April/May Microreviews

January microreviews
February microreviews
March microreviews

Books:

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IV, Chuck Klosterman: Chuck Klosterman does the kind of journalism I would love to do. Funny, sarcastic pop culture essays with smart commentary on the impact of entertainment on society. I’ll always point to his essay on The Real World as one of the best I’ve read. This collection was decent; the non-fiction was great, the semi-fiction was okay, and the fiction was barely worth reading. I particularly enjoyed the profile of Morrissey’s hispanic fans and the one about tribute bands.

The World’s Wife
, Carol Ann Duffy: I love Carol Ann Duffy’s poems and their clever, feminist slant. The World’s Wife is a perfect example. Duffy writes from the perspective of the wives and lovers of famous historical and literary figures: how does King Midas’ touch affect his marriage? or alters the stories to give women more agency than in their original tellings.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
, Neil Gaiman:  I read this book over the course of two days; whenever I needed a break from wandering around London I would take advantage of the comfortable sofas in the Piccadilly Circus Waterstones and curl up for a few minutes with this book. It’s a beautiful little fairy tale about monsters and magic and growing up.

Salt: A World History
, Mark Kurlansky: I may be sick of Mark Kurlansky by the time I finish writing my thesis as one of his books is a major source I’m using, but in the meantime I loved reading this. He looks at a common material—salt—and through evidence and anecdote, explores its impact on history and contemporary life and food in an interesting and entertaining way.

The Little Friend
, Donna Tartt: Not as good as The Secret History and certainly not as good as The Goldfinch, but a book can still be pretty excellent with both of those things being true. I didn’t find myself caring much for the central mystery, which is good because I also didn’t find much resolution, but it was all the little pieces of southern gothic description and all the side stories about minor figures and all the miscellaneous everything else that I really enjoyed.

Paper Towns, John Green: Paper Towns is known for being a story that points out the ridiculousness of the idea of the so-called “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” I found it to be mostly successful in this regard, but it would’ve been more effective if it had been from the perspective of the girl, rather than about her. Still, a quick and fun read.

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann: I absolutely loved this. Set in 1974, while Philippe Petit crossed the World  Trade Center towers on a tightrope, the novel features characters from all walks of live, and the city of New York itself is as strong a character as any of them. It’s a beautiful book, and one I look forward to reading again in the future.

Live by Night
, Dennis Lehane: I didn’t realise that this was a sequel of sorts to The Given Day until I started reading it, but instead of the sprawling historical novel and social commentary of its predecessor, Live by Night is a fast-paced crime story more in line with Lehane’s other detective works.

Bark: Stories, Lorrie Moore: Whenever you can finish a book in one sitting you have to assume that a) it’s not very long but b) it is very good. The first two stories didn’t entirely hook me, but by the time I got to ‘Paper Losses’ I knew I wasn’t moving until I had gotten to the end. Luckily it was a beautiful day outside. The descriptions were visceral and the relationships devastating.

Werewolves in their Youth, Michael Chabon: I shouldn’t have read this immediately after Bark, I don’t think. Too many  stories about relationships facing harsh realities. Michael Chabon is one of my favourite authors, and this isn’t his best work. There were still moments and sentences that really resonated, but overall I didn’t find the stories or characters as memorable as in most of his books.

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Ireland, 17-21 May

Despite living in Ireland for nine months now, I haven’t seen as much of the country as I would like. Unlike the semesters of undergrad when I studied in London, England and Sevilla, Spain, the MA has, understandably, taken up quite a bit of my time (and my finances) and so I haven’t spent my weekends travelling and exploring. When my family came to visit this past week, however, they wanted to see more than just Dublin and Galway, the two cities I’m most familiar with, so it was a good time to get the full tourist experience.