What We Talk About When We Talk About Broad City
By Ben Eisen, Editorial Staff Head
On Sunday November 9th, a group of Fusionites had the privilege of attending “Id Isn’t Always Pretty: An Evening with Broad City” at The Paley Center. Amidst a crowd of heavy hitters – executive producer Amy Poehler, writer/director Lucia Aniello, moderator Seth Rogen, even Kelly Ripa and her hubby showed – no one enlivened the audience so much as the “two Jewesses trying to make a buck,” Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
Expectantly, the sitdown began with a rehash of the girls’ history and the evolution of their show. Abbi recounted how after a brief stint in art school she took a chance on Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade and found her niche in a more free-form creative world. Meanwhile, Ilana spoke of her childhood obsession with comedy (whoo Stella!), which ultimately led to her enrollment in UCB classes. After the girls met in 2007, they started shooting online shorts with the help of Lucia to both widen their comedy purview and appease their parents with evidence of actual work. Eventually, the ladies connected with Poehler, who helped shepherd their show to network television.
Although enjoyable to hear the stars retell their origin story, the real substance of the event came with audience questions. Most audience members echoed critics’ praise of the show for its honest depiction of female sexuality/friendship/drug use and proved eager to ask about the creators’ feminist intentions. In my favorite line of the night, Ilana repositioned the critical conversation with something both amusing and universal (I paraphrase): “99% of the time our characters are walking around, they’re not thinking about the fact that they have vaginas.” To the creators, Broad City doesn’t espouse feminism in a heavy-handed way. Rather, it subtly normalizes a spectrum of behavior for women throughout its hilarious episodes. Yes, women can toke up, extol “pink dicks,” and – as Abbi and Ilana showed at the event – fondle each other’s boobs.
Perhaps the coolest moment of the evening came when our co-director Lucy Ross asked the panelists about their life mottos. Abbi advised to “Stretch – before and after.” Ilana urged the crowd to “Legit, tell the people you love that you love them.” And Poehler went old school with the warning “Snitches get stitches.” An honorable team, to be sure.
Overall, the event was a blast and only deepened our love for the show. Not only are Abbi and Ilana incredibly funny and hardworking, they also come across as people with real integrity and respect for others, as Lucia and next season guest star Rogen affirmed. Although Abbi and Ilana mocked their first season anxieties early on, the image of them holding hands in fake terror was one of empowerment, strength, and collaboration – qualities we at Fusion love to see in action. Here’s to season two!