A BROAD OR TWO: Thank Gawd For ‘Broad City’

It’s been bothering me.  

All over TV on every channel, I’ve noticed a problem. With the rise of bro culture in entertainment, we keep getting the same kinds of female characters showing up, seemingly as afterthoughts and never becoming more than androidish accessories to the story. These female characters appear to be written by male writers who have had only trivial contact with actual women, choosing to constantly make up the parts they can’t fully appreciate.

How did this happen? How do you watch order and chaos master Elaine from Seinfeld, and then go make both flaky shopaholic Lilly and tomboy-too-far Robin from How I Met Your Mother? I’m not expecting writers to just duplicate characters from the past, but going from such realistic (and funny) depictions, to what could be called wishful thinking or female caricatures, it’s confusing as to where the writers are getting their inspiration from.

Instead of a successful career woman that can juggle both villains and Supermen like Lois from Lois and Clark: Adventures of Superman, we get the fantasy wife and leaguer Jenny from The League who does gender equality via emasculating subtraction. Rather than a heart-and-soul character like Phoebe from Friends, we witness Sweet Dee from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia become a criminally abused human punching bag. Once you get to basic future crazy cat lady Jillian from Workaholics and remember that Rose from Golden Girls already showed how to do naivety and a lack of street smarts with respect, it’s apparent that something is WAY off.

Sure, we all know that women cuss and fart and whatnot, but how does a male writer actually depict this with the conviction of an eyewitness? Luckily for them (and us, the audience), there’s a refresher course available right now. When it comes to authentic depictions of flesh and blood women, one need look no further than the half valkyrie, half harpy, half-assed heifers of Broad City.

I almost didn’t even give this show a chance. After being inundated with constant comedies that contain “vulgar” in their description, I wasn’t in a hurry to watch yet another, let alone being grossly done by women. However, one day I let it run in the background. Soon, little gems started to hit my ear as I worked on something else. Later I found myself taking an extended break with a mini-binge.  About time Drake’s Started From the Bottom was playing,  the Broads had my full attention (and me howling with laughter).

I mean, this is it. The “thing” that was missing from those other shows: honesty with context. It’s not enough to just say “this chick farted and that’s hilarious”. You have to explain why it’s funny because of what’s been happening to the character.

Speaking of which, it’s impossible to not root for Abbi. Be it her neglectful dumbbell supervisor at work or her aloof dream guy neighbor, she just can’t seem to get the attention she desperately seeks. However, just when you’re ready to write her off as another meek girl, she goes and heroically punts her roommate’s awful boyfriend ill-gotten rotisserie chicken with righteous authority. Her highs and lows are hilarious to watch and endearing to relate to.

And then there’s Ilana, the lazy firecracker. You’ll hate everything she does but love everything she is. She’s a remarkably horrible worker, carelessly in a girlfriend experience with her dentist suitor (Hannibal Burress can do no wrong) and couldn’t spout a coherent political statement to save her life. Thankfully, what she excels at is reminding the audience that being a nymphomaniac with bisexual tendencies doesn’t mean being selective is off the table; a #notallcrotches reminder. Illana’s affinity for a good lay doesn’t mean everyone is on the menu, even if Abbi happens to be.

The best gift that Broad City gives is letting foolish people off the hook with whatever pedestals still remain to throw women upon. They aren’t goddesses that walk among us brutish men, granting us godhood through their conquest. No, they are simply the same type of multi-faceted piles of random characteristics that we are, just expressed in a special and distinct way.

Let them.  It’s gold.

Has Broad City impressed you with its comedic realism?
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