Three episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
There’s almost no possible way to logically and sanely defend a show whose heroines believe that everyone’s asshole “has an identity – a soul, an ‘ass-soul’ if you will.” But here I am, and here I will be for the next 900 words or so, sharing my totally illogical and insane appreciation for my two favorite television best friends: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. They’re crass, ridiculous messes, but the show encapsulating them isn’t about the existentialism they face in attempting to iron those messes out, but (refreshingly, blessedly, honestly I could hug them) about the hilarity they get into while simply trying to survive until tomorrow.
In Broad City‘s third year, not much has changed for Abbi and Ilana. Abbi’s barely getting by at Soulstice, although she’s finally managed to shirk most of her pubic hair removal duties for a gig teaching water aerobics to the elderly. Ilana is still working (every other day) for Deals Deals Deals and tangentially, kind of, dating dentist Lincoln (Hannibal Buress). In a majestic split-screen opening sequence full of minuscule, nuanced character gags that’ll reward the show’s fans, we see a year pass for the girls from the single view of their bathroom toilets.
It’s the perfect microcosm of what Broad City does best: it’s not about the overarching plot of an episode, or what’s going on anywhere that Abbi and Ilana aren’t. The only thing that matters are these two. Lesser shows would crumble under the weight of that forced handicap after the pilot, but Broad City only wears it like a badge of honor. The two are such undying cheerleaders for one another that it’s wholly infectious to become invested in their deeply odd whirlwind shenanigans. Bestiality viral videos and pubic hair straightening can’t kneecap the show’s sweet side – they (and I can’t believe I’m saying this either) only enhance it.
It’s a raunchiness that never feels over the top and unnecessary, despite the extremes to which it goes. It fits with the world and, more importantly, the show’s sexually crazed twosome. The season’s best jokes so far arise from a guy Abbi falls for while pretending to be Ilana at the local co-op (run by Melissa Leo, which I can’t even begin to get into there aren’t enough pages on the internet), and Ilana’s twisty tirade against boyfriend Lincoln. “If you love something,” she posits thoughtfully to Abbi, joint in hand, “You have to let it have sex with other people.” Even the most simplistic and – excuse the pun – broad jokes feel revitalized in the streets of Broad City thanks to the sheer muscular gusto with which Jacobson and Glazer clothesline each set piece, particularly an elongated scene in the premiere centering around a porta potty.
The opening episodes of season 3 are largely without representation from the rotary of side characters seen in previous years, like grating roommate Bevers (John Gemberling), whose temporary egress Broad City benefits from, or Jamié (Arturo Castro), Ilana’s drug dealer/roommate, who I’d say the opposite about. Lincoln gets the most side duties early on, and Buress’ restrained delivery and low-key reactions are the perfect negative space for Ilana’s brilliance to explode.
But she’s more than fine on her own, of course. Glazer continues to play Ilana (herself? Hopefully?) with idiotic abandon, and it’s a minor miracle that the sitcom-level shenanigans she gets into feel as weird and strange and wholly odd as the rest of the show. She siphons the most normal of daily acts into back-breaking, side-splitting odysseys into the unholy bowels and boroughs of New York City and back, rocking attitude as relentlessly unique to her brand as the clothes she wears, all the while mining tear-inducing comedy from, most of the time, simply showing up (look out for a red hoodie in episode three – I think I’ll be laughing about it on my deathbed).
That’s not to say Abbi isn’t up to revel in the muck, as well. She might be as close as Broad City will ever get to the straight man, but she earns as many glorious gaffes as her bestie, and sometimes more. Jacobson makes up for Ilana’s lack of subtlety in a way, earning her laughs from underhanded remarks to her passive aggressive co-workers at Soulstice, and then smacking their heads with foam bats at a company sports retreat. “You’re all caps right now,” Ilana says attempting to soothe Abbi down in her fit of competitive aggression. “I need you to be case sensitive.”
Similar to the format of the show itself, Abbi and Ilana are like comedic silly putty – nebulous enough to stretch into unexpected areas of perfect witty bliss, but with just the right amount of elasticity to return to their former shapes at the end of each episode. Of course, what this means is that Broad City isn’t exactly the most plot-driven comedy on television. It’s a sitcom of situations and escapades more than an overarching narrative of growth (although, admittedly with far more connective tissue than the also-great Man Seeking Woman). That’s a double-edged sword that mostly cuts in Broad City‘s favor, because the hijinks here are so indelibly memorable you’re all but guaranteed to burst out in giggles from just thinking about the show weeks after it’s aired.
All the same, it transcends that nitpick. Comedy, first and foremost, is about how many times something makes you laugh. Any other negatives are far and away easier to ignore if something is simply funny enough. And given that I could count Broad City‘s negatives on one hand, and that it’s made me laugh so frequently and enthusiastically, barring it from the rating it deserves feels fruitless and reductive. The jokes here are so rapid-fire, the humor so simultaneously ribald and evolved, that Broad City feels like Comedy Central has tuned us into a weekly rip in space and time that’s airing a show from a species far more acclimated to the nuance of blumpkin jokes than we’ll ever be. “To my frand ’til the and,” Ilana toasts to Abbi early in the premiere using her amusingly bizarre syntax. And to you two delightful weirdos, may the end be very far away.
Uproarious, tear-inducing, side-splitting, and tell-everyone-you-love-and-hate-immediately good, Broad City is the funniest show on TV right now and, given time, its brazen inventiveness will probably net it an "all time" qualifier.