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.
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!