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Broad City

...because if you think that short webisodes won't translate to the half-hour television format, then you need to see "Broad City." Back when they actually were two broke girls in their 20's, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer created short video sketches poking fun at their lives in New York. In adapting the show for Comedy Central, the creators/stars managed to preserve their real life chemistry and irreverent comic instincts. "Broad City" also proves that women, like men, can be immature and offensive on television, offering an alternative form of feminism for younger audiences.


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Believe it or not, Jacobson and Glazer created their web series for very practical reasons. After meeting and performing together at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York, they both felt that the better roles in the comedy group's productions were going to other actors. So they decided to find another venue to showcase their talents. Compared to the cost of performance space and improv classes, producing short videos was actually pretty cheap. They came up with characters based on exaggerated versions of themselves, which allowed their natural rapport to carry over into their web videos. They also were a little more thoughtful towards the format, creating episodes that played on how web technology affects modern social life and relationships. While the original web series never had a massive following, it did attract the attention of UCB alumna Amy Poehler, who guest starred in the web finale. Poehler's involvement helped secure the ensuing television deals, but the creators have stuck to their original ideas about what makes their characters funny and interesting.

"Broad City" is actually the second attempt to turn Jacobson and Glazer's web series into a cable show. FX originally tried to adapt the idea into a pilot, but the project fell apart over the usual creative differences. Perhaps learning from its rival's mistake, Comedy Central took a more supportive position towards the creators/stars. Because the network wanted the chemistry and humor of the web series, Comedy Central made the decision to give Jacobson and Glazer relative creative freedom over their material. They also provided the somewhat inexperienced duo with a showrunner and seasoned comedy directors to assist in the transition to the new format. The move has proved to be a win-win: Glazer and Jacobson now run their own hit series, while Comedy Central has earned a reputation for nurturing young talent.

Much of the attention to "Broad City" focuses on the show's unique depiction of female characters. To put it a little more bluntly, Abbi and Ilana are more like Cheech and Chong than the ladies of Jane Austen's novels. Much of this characterization stems from the creators' observations about the obstacles of modern life, from the casual drug use to casual relationships to casual work ethic of millennials. Not only has the show allowed Jacobson and Glazer to break through the glass ceiling of male-dominated comedy, it's also provided a platform for them to discuss feminist issues under the radar. More importantly, it's proved that cool, fun female characters can exist outside the closely gendered stereotypes seen in even the most progressive comedies.


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Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (The Women of Comedy in New York City) – Time Out New York Magazine

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