Comedy Central Premieres Final Season Of 'Broad City'

Jan 24, 2019
Originally published on January 24, 2019 6:57 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The fifth and final season of Comedy Central's "Broad City" begins tonight. "Broad City" follows Abbi and Ilana, two 20-something women living in Brooklyn, finding their way as 20-somethings do - but with a twist. NPR's Sam Sanders talked recently with Abbi Jacobson, one of the creators and stars of the show. And they talked about "Broad City's" subversive feminism.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: In the very first episode of "Broad City," Ilana shows up at her best friend Abbi's job.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BROAD CITY")

ABBI JACOBSON: (As Abbi Abrams) What are you even doing here?

ILANA GLAZER: (As Ilana Wexler) Nothing, just strolling through the neighborhood and wanted to see my No. 1.

SANDERS: And then Ilana tries to get Abbi to leave her shift so the two of them can try to score tickets to a Lil Wayne concert.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BROAD CITY")

GLAZER: (As Ilana Wexler) I think you deserve, like, an "Abbi Bueller's Day Off" to just leave work in the middle of the day. Yes, you can. You just lie and leave. All they let you do is fold towels anyway.

JACOBSON: (As Abbi Abrams) No, they don't. They let me do a lot more than that. I wash the towels, and then I dry the towels.

SANDERS: Abbi leaves her shift, and then there's high jinks. In many ways, this could be any show about young people in a big city fooling around, doing dumb stuff. But "Broad City" is different because it is nasty. Abbi and Ilana are gross. They're slobs. They joke about and revel in bodily functions I can't mention at this hour on this show. They get to be crass - like men. Creator Abbi Jacobson says that's the point.

JACOBSON: Like, don't you know - a lot of your girlfriends, don't they - aren't they like us?

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

JACOBSON: So it's like, when you - if you've watched the show, you're not like, that's a dude thing.

SANDERS: That's a dude thing. It's just like a...

JACOBSON: No. Those are like girls I know...

SANDERS: I know girls like that. Exactly.

JACOBSON: ...But maybe not girls that you've...

SANDERS: I see.

JACOBSON: ...Seen on - yeah.

SANDERS: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer started "Broad City" as a Web series in 2009. Jacobson says FX was going to take the show to TV but pulled the plug after a year of development. The reason?

JACOBSON: It was that it was too girly.

SANDERS: For FX's audience, at least - Comedy Central picked it up, and "Broad City" was a hit. Anne Helen Petersen is the author of the book "Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud." She talks about "Broad City" in that book. And she's intrigued by the way the show lets these two characters spend their free time.

ANNE HELEN PETERSEN: Their leisure time isn't consumed with bettering their bodies. Like, they're not sitting around painting their nails or doing their hair.

SANDERS: "Broad City" is also very specific in representing a particular kind of woman - young, white, urban, liberal. The show has been critiqued for that at times. Abbi Jacobson says she gets it.

JACOBSON: We try to comment on the fact that we are these, like, two dumb white girls. It's not representing everybody.

SANDERS: Do you feel bad about that?

JACOBSON: I mean, in a way - but I think that when we first started the Web series, like, 10 years ago, we were just trying to create characters for ourselves because we couldn't get roles on anything.

SANDERS: And that story - their story - that's guided the whole show the entire time. Anne Helen Petersen says the heart of "Broad City" is Abbi and Ilana putting their relationship above chasing a career or chasing beauty or chasing a man.

PETERSEN: Yes, they have relationships. But their primary relationship, the love story, is their friendship with one another and their absolute support for one another.

SANDERS: Five seasons in, that's still pretty radical.

Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.