ADTV’s Robin Write advocates for the comedy duo of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson as Best Actresses in a Comedy Series for Comedy Central’s Broad City
Even with a strong respectful whiff paid to, say, Seinfeld or Woody Allen, Comedy Central hot property duo Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are still somehow unique in their comic entertainment endeavors with Broad City. Twentysomething women, Jewesses if you will, still trying to figure out where they ought to be or what they are doing under the social labels of professionalism and personal life is compelling enough as a notion. It’s also essential viewing when it is executed this well.
Like endless American TV shows gone by, the flamboyantly talented actresses and creators of Broad City keep their first names in character: Ilana, an openly off the wall, sexual young woman, seemingly unfiltered in her full throttle approach to life and constant use of air quotations; and Abbi, endearingly goofy, sensitive, a well-meaning bag of nerves, whose hesitations can say more than words. Ilana and Abbi are indeed a match made in a funny New York City heaven. Barring an understandable split in the voting, Emmy ought to be all over this.
Although exaggerated to perfection in places (many places actually), the performances of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson ooze a kind of natural comic ability as well as portray a sharp look at the changing world around us. An absurd world, sure, but the everyday situations and human behavior they indulge in are familiar to you and I. Even their respective job roles offer unforgivingly droll circumstances: Ilana is more circle-peg-in-square-hole than out and out lazy bones at a small sales company but warrants her eventual dismissal. Abbi wears her “cleaner” fitness center vest with less pride than she would the “trainer” one she strives for – though becoming an illustrator is her true forte.
The oddball, sometimes slapstick, comedy and physical allure are created and delivered in season three pretty much as they were the prior two seasons (you know, Ilana has the tits, Abbi has the ass) – which will suit fans and newcomers alike right down to the ground. Glazer and Jacobson throw out there some of the more cynical ways of living in the modern world like having to wait for a table in a fancy restaurant or the new wave of clean modern living. The slices of life humor are keenly observed, depicting a casual but relevant set of narrative themes from your basic clashes in culture and lifestyle to current world events affecting Americans and assumptions about race or class.
The girls are not here to teach us a lesson about the world or have the intention to rub people the wrong way. Neither do they lash out blame to anyone else for their downfalls or high points. They tend to just shrug it off and leap onto the next wobbly stepping stone. In fact, their primary piss-take is with the characters Ilana and Abbi themselves – none more obviously (and hilariously) so when they get to literally mimic each other in one episode.
What season three does allow the actresses to embrace is a deeper sense of humanity, pulling us ever-so-closer to the heart and soul of Ilana and Abbi. This is something we can be forgiven for misinterpreting as stupidity. There is snippet of an emotive warm glow and a small dose of melancholy, which both puts us in their shoes and compliments the humor. As well successfully demonstrating the acting chops of both actresses without making their writing anywhere near rusty. Ilana’s crisis of conscience (when Abbi hides the date with Trey to instead pretend she makes a surprise appearance to Ilana’s parents anniversary dinner) turns out to be really about Lincoln with whom Ilana shared a sexual relationship. He apparently rejected her for a girl who can offer him commitment. Bringing on the tears, it is a splendid, poignant moment for Glazer. Equally affecting is Jacobson, adding true remorse to her usual intense, mouse-like-timidness.
There is a definite enticing lunacy to behold here. As contentious or outlandish Ilana and Abbi may seem, they are surrounded by a whole host of players one might consider far less interesting regardless of scruples. This is not a criticism on the writing or set-up at all. It is rather an observation that the contrast between Ilana and Abbi and the other normal, sensible, every-day (all life-affirming traits) folk by default of execution makes the lead misfits all that more interesting and enlightening. Comparing them to the “normal” people in the world makes you realize Ilana and Abbi are actually not so weird after all.
The magic constant here is the enduring friendship. No matter how bonkers or unrealistic the antics of Ilana and Abbi may appear to be at any given time, you know their friendship is cemented and true. Their hapless behaviour and ensuing bedlam does not deter from their clearly solid, heart-felt bond. Even with an array of what you might call guest appearances (including Hilary Clinton), Abbi and Ilana are still the stars of the show. A mere ten episodes per season is nowhere near enough for me. I could watch these girls and their misadventures all day long (which means I will be re-watching again), but as far as Emmy voters are concerned it is more than ample comic material to earn both actresses (and writers) huge recognition.