– by Steve Cooke –
If you haven’t seen Broad City, you should stop reading this article, go watch all of the episodes and come back. I’ll wait.
Done? How great is it? It’s like Superbad meets Girls, and it never fails to impress. It’s almost a sketch show in the way it’s paced and often separated into vignettes. The chemistry and charisma between the leads, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, is irresistible. But beyond their witty banter and quotable one-liners there are lots of other surprising, uncomfortable and memorable moments that make this show so great. Let’s count them down.
4- The Kitchen Scene in “The Last Supper”
The season finale features tremendous performances by comedy veterans Seth Morris (Love) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). Abbi and Ilana are out at a fancy restaurant for the evening and fawn over their server’s (Seth Morris) classy attitude. This is juxtaposed once the server returns to the back of house, where crass, trashy arguments ensue between Morris and Poehler, who plays a foul-mouthed chef. They are a hilarious pair, and steal the episode as the bipolar restaurant owners.
This is a great homage to Amy Poehler’s past involvement with the Broad City gals. Poehler appeared in the final episode of the web series, and supported them as the show was pitched and picked up by Comedy Central. As one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (UCB), it is no surprise she is a cultivator of young talent in New York City.
The scene is also a great example of the show’s ability to seamlessly reverse gender roles and stereotypes. Poehler plays the head chef, usually a masculine role, barking out orders as she takes personal jabs at Morris’s character.
And 3- The Improv scene in “Stolen Phone”
This is a perfect example of how Broad City plays like a sketch show. The scene acts as a device to progress Ilana’s character, but can also stand on its own as a funny, painfully accurate sketch. Anyone who has seen amateur improv knows how bad it can be at times, and this scene is a perfect showcase. As UCB members, Abbi and Ilana were no strangers to improv shows, and they certainly have countless hours of awkward performances to draw inspiration from.
This scene doesn’t just highlight the strength of the leads as performers, but also as creators of the show. They incorporate what could be a stand-alone sketch into a fast paced episode. The scene and its flashbacks are a prime example of their ability to create niche yet relatable moments, even without their signature banter and charm.
And 2- The dildo debate in “Knockoffs”
This whole plotline is full of great moments. The reveal that Jeremy (Stephen Schneider) is into pegging is a perfect way to take this otherwise one-dimensional character and make him strange and flawed. It would have been easy to keep him as the sexy and allusive neighbour, but that’s not the Broad City way.
Abbi is forced to explain the situation to Ilana and her family, which is a wonderful scene. Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is ideal casting as Ilana’s mother. She impressively matches the energy and abrasive nature of Ilana, and in classic Broad City fashion, the whole family discusses the matter openly, with everyone offering their two cents.
It’s not until the confrontation between Abbi and Jeremy that things becomes uncomfortable. Delightfully uncomfortable. Abbi had been waiting to hook up with Jeremy for a season and a half, and the payoff is not what anyone expected. Abbi Jacobson is in her element as she struggles for rebuttals in a hilarious argument surrounding a damaged dildo.
And 1- Ilana Freaking out in“Co-Op”.
One of the most fun dynamics of the show is the on again, off again relationship of Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) and Ilana. Hannibal is an amazing stand up comedian first and foremost, but has gained even more popularity from his role on the show. He pairs well with Ilana by somehow remaining in sync with her emotionally, despite having none of her intensity.
This scene is the height of Ilana’s insanity. Lincoln reveals that he has slept with another woman, and attempts to read whether Ilana is angry or elated by the news. Ilana climbing the tree and Lincoln admitting he was the “little spoon” are wonderful moments. The scene is intercut with Abbi pretending to be Ilana, so Ilana can complete her hours at a Co-Op grocery. This is a hilarious payoff after watching the show for three seasons. We’ve seen Ilana and her wild behavior. In fact, we’ve seen her screaming at Lincoln just one scene over, and now we get to see Abbi try and emulate that.
The show is almost through the third season, and it rarely seems to falter. Let’s hope it can remain on this course, and continue to delight us for years to come. YAS!
Steve Cooke is a big fan of comedy, television and comedy on television. If you ever see him in person, come say hi.