Broad City is objectively a unique comedy series, especially under the category of female-centered television shows. The uniqueness of the show stems from a variety of characteristics, but the show’s most defined characteristic is its implementation and representation of gender throughout each episode. Yes, Broad City is centered on the lives of two female millennial city-dwellers, Abbi and Ilana, but the show is much more than that.
Generally, the show includes a wide spread of gender throughout each episode, notably through male side characters as well as gender-fluid characters (RuPaul’s cameo in Season 4). Also, the show intersects gender with many other representational axes such as race, class, and sexual orientation. Ilana’s friend with benefits, Lincoln, is black, and her roommate is a gay Hispanic man named Jaime. Also, Ilana herself does engage sexually with both men and women, so the millennial, open-minded, unbiased representation of characters definitely shines through. Despite all these characteristics, the show does place a predominant focus on the women of the show, specifically the two female leads in Abbi and Ilana. The inclusion of the peripheral characters is mainly to bolster Abbi and Ilana’s story-lines, and the intent of the show is to portray a unique and non-stereotypical female experience.
With the premiere episode of Season 4, titled “Sliding Doors,” the viewers are exposed to a more direct development of gender representation, particularly in the basis of female friendships. The opening episode is about the crazy story of how Abbi and Ilana met as young adults in New York. Ilana witnessed Abbi struggling to get into the subway, so she helped Abbi by swiping her in. However, they both missed the train, so they were basically stuck together. Although they met by chance, Abbi and Ilana do not take that for granted, and it was ultimately their decision to develop this new friendship. Television shows usually depict women as competitive or opposites of one another, and female friendships tend to be more one-sided. Broad City shatters this stereotype, however, by blossoming the friendship between Abbi and Ilana in a more authentic way in the Season 4 premiere. Abbi and Ilana recognize each other’s quirks upon first meeting, and they are willing to mutually interact and help each other out. For example, they both enjoy lighting one up from time to time, and their sense of humor plays off each other. This embracing of each other’s personality emulates a sense of relatability with the viewers that is otherwise lacking in other TV shows.
Therefore, the basis of female friendships plays into the representation of gender in Broad City because it helps to portray women in a different light. Without the stereotypes of envy and competitiveness being shown, female friendships like Abbi’s and Ilana’s are strong, embracing, and supportive of each other no matter what, making Broad City a much more refreshing show.