How 'Broad City' Proved That Competition Between "Girl Shows" Is a Myth
Go ahead and mark down January 22, 2014 as a great day in TV history, as it delivered the premiere of Broad City: a great little web series-turned-sitcom that would come to be an indispensable member of the televisual landscape. But just as quickly as we fell head over heels for the stars and creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, the ugly side of success followed and this incredible show was reduced to a boxer in a needless fight between TV's two most prominent "girl shows." And on this, the day of Broad City's Season 1 finale, it's time to dispel the notion that there can only be one "victor."
If we've learned anything from this season of the incredible stoner(ish) comedy, it's that the myth of competition between Broad City and Girls is about as useful as Abbi's non-roommate Bevers.
From the minute Broad City hit the airwaves, it was reviewed in comparison to Girls almost as a rule. When the simple comparisons weren't quite strong enough, actual competition emerged, spurning headlines like "5 Things 'Broad City' Offers That 'Girls' Doesn't" and the far more obvious "'Broad City' vs. 'Girls'". Casual conversations among my friends in Brooklyn have devolved into a battle royale between Lena Dunham and Glazer and Jacobson: "Girls is overrated. Broad City is so much better/more like my life/funnier."
Because there are two series on television around the same time and both of them deal with young, 20-something women in New York, they must duke it out to death, apparently. Just as there can only be one Jennifer Lawrence at a time — the world apparently can't handle more than one mega-successful woman — there is apparently only room for one show about "girls." But I call bullshit.
Sure, it makes sense to compare both series from a certain standpoint: both series give us a window into the lives of young women struggling to get their lives going in contemporary Brooklyn and Manhattan. Both series are about womanhood and female friendships, as well as honesty about drugs, alcohol, and sexual appetites and habits. I'm even guilty of making this comparison myself, because we must admit: the similarities are there in both series settings.
However, noting the similarities in circumstance and setting isn't the same as suggesting that a victor needs to emerge from some imaginary battle of the young, funny women. Does anyone draft a definitive ranking of cop shows every time a tough beat cop shows up as the lead of a serial drama? Hell no. Believe it or not, there can be two shows that tell unique and worthwhile stories about the same age bracket in the same region. This isn't exactly The Hunger Games, folks.
In fact, now that we've seen the entire season of the incredible, hilarious Broad City, it's clear that it's not simply "another Girls-type show" the way many people interpreted post-Girls sitcom additions like CBS' flat 2 Broke Girls. Not only does the ballad of Ilana and Abbi tell a far different story of what it's like to be a 20-something woman in New York — because, go figure, we're not all exactly the same and we can relate to plenty of different women all at once — but there's also something to be said for the style of comedy itself. Yes, the circumstances of Girls and Broad City are similar, but those circumstances are only a delivery method for the comedy and the concepts each show is bringing to the table. Young New York is the silver platter, and Glazer teaching us about the wonders of "Pu$y Weed" or Hannah learning the harsh realities of being a "writer" and a real adult are the main courses.
More likely than not, the question about which series is actually the voice of a generation won't end, because where there are successful women on television, there is inevitably ruthless and unnecessary competition thrust upon them. But if you're really paying attention to Broad City's effortless take on real, down and dirty womanhood, you'd know that you'll learn more from ogling strangers' pups in a Brooklyn dog park than you will drumming up a false "winner" in this fabricated battle.
Thanks to Broad City, there are two more incredible female voices running a well-written, hilarious television show. And that, my friends, is the only "victory" here that really needs celebrating.
Image: Comedy Central