New York is to Broad City what Rome is to La Dolce Vita. The city is not simply the location, the backdrop to the action, but is an entire additional character in the work. I'd argue it's thanks to the city's energy, multiculturalism, and enlightened approach to sexuality that means that Ilana's inspired to make unforgettable statements like “Statistically, we’re headed toward an age where everybody’s going to be, like, caramel and queer.” And despite New York being the most expensive city in America, while Abbi and Ilana seem perennially broke, they also seem to spend more time having fun than juggling multiple jobs to make rent. Maybe it's because Abbi and Ilana are innate hustlers, but, in Season 3, Broad City has been making New York seem scary in addition to hilarious.
However, despite the protagonists' laid back attitude to New York living, the show's also never been one to shy away from the less appealing aspects of the Big Apple: the sheer ickiness of public transport, the skeeziness of calling up a locksmith and the impossible situations living in a really, really large, expensive city conjures up. But with Season 3, the action's stepped up a notch: the show has suddenly made New York seem borderline impossible to live in. Why? Real estate drama.
In episode four, 'Rat Pack', the inevitable happens: Ilana and Jaime discover a rat in their apartment that's stealing their food and weed, interrupting cuddle time, and generally killing their vibe. After hiring an exterminator to the tune of $400, they're forced to host a $10-entry house party to recoup their losses — but obviously the rat reappears in time for the party, forcing Ilana to change into tap shoes to simultaneously keep all eyes on her and away from the rat. First of all, I have an intense rat phobia, so this episode gave me nightmares for days on end. Secondly, the prospect of paying almost half a grand and still having a rat in your apartment? I'm getting hives just thinking about it. Not to come off all European-smug, but across the pond, landlords usually have to foot the costs for rodent infestation. Just sayin'. New York, I'm not tempted right now.
In episode 6, Abbi and Ilana hightail it to "just west of Philadelphia" to visit Abbi's hometown, which seems all sorts of great: for a start, frickin' Tony Danza is Abbi's dad and he thinks it's cool enough to live there. There's a long intricate storyline where Abbi tracks down an old schoolfriend to give her back some money she raised for her back in high school. The schoolfriend has made good: she's now crazy hot and a successful model. She's also the proud owner of some seriously sexy real estate: think Will Smith level sexy. Or, OK, the house Will Smith allegedly bought for his mom. Sure, the girl's done good and she's a big catwalk star. But still, could she have afforded this level of real estate bling in New York City? I suspect not. Just looking at Abbi and Ilana framed in the doorway like orphans in a Charles Dickens' novel drives the point home: they live in apartments with rats in, this lady lives in a mansion.
Finally, in the latest episode, Abbi and Ilana do what any self-respecting urbanite with money problems does: they turn to the Broad City equivalent of Airbnb, B&B-NYC. As someone who spent five years in London, I've gotta say, yes. Sometimes renting your room out feels like the only possible way to break even in one of the most expensive cities in the world. But when Abbi rents her room out to a suspiciously attractive French man travelling solo and able to pay $700 a night for an extremely average looking room, she gets robbed. No! Obviously this isn't New York's fault, but it makes New York seem a scarier place than we've been used to seeing in the first two seasons.
While Broad City is borderline utopian in the way it presents friendship, weed and sexual relationships, it stays pretty grounded when it comes to New York real estate. New York, I'm always happy to visit, but if living there means cohabiting in apartments like the ones in Broad City? Thanks but no thanks.
Images: Paper Kite Productions (2); Giphy (2)