There’s never been a better time to be a woman on TV. Streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon allow more creative freedom than ever before and networks are working hard to stay competitive. This means a whole slew of new shows featuring characters that are often not male. The scope is so wide: woman showrunners (Shonda Rhimes, Jenni Konner) and shows featuring women as the main character(s) (Orange is the New Black, Being Mary Jane) have been dominating our small screens for the past few years.
Two of my favorite shows containing some of my favorite women returned last week: Abbi and Ilana for the third season of Broad City (it’s been renewed for at least two more), and Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna on Girls, in its penultimate fifth season. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’ve seen each episode of both these shows at least three times, and I’ve already watched both season premieres twice. If you haven’t already jumped on the bandwagon for either of these shows, please allow these tweets to convince you:
if you don't know that broad city is the funniest show on TV then we don't respect you
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) March 12, 2015
@lenadunham Very funny woman. Can I come do a scene on your show?…i promise, NO selfies…:)
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) January 22, 2014
IDRIS ELBA LOVES GIRLS TOO.
Broad City and Girls are both half hour shows and both concern post-college 20-something women living in the city. Both also have dynamic females who run the show as well as star in it. You would think that these two shows would overlap a ton, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer were two unknown comics making Youtube shorts of Broad City. Amy Poehler took notice and introduced them to Comedy Central. Conversely, Lena Dunham is the daughter of two prominent New York City artists and grew up attending parties with NYC artsy types. She produced a few independent short films before landing at HBO to direct Girls, along with Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner.
If you think that these are girly shows for girly girls, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Broad City’s cast includes a loveable Hannibal Burress as Lincoln, Ilana’s longtime friend with benefits, as well as cameos by Fred Armisen and Seth Rogen. Throughout the five seasons of Girls, the men (Adam Driver as Adam, Alex Karpovsky as Ray, Andrew Rannels as Elijah to name a few) of Girls have become stars in their own right, lending depth, warmth and a (sometimes sassy) voice of reason when the girls need it most.
What I’m saying is, if you don’t haven’t already, it’s time to set your DVRs to record or download Hulu Plus and HBO Go because the women on these two shows have already proved they kick ass, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.
Best scene: I want to choose the first scene, a yearlong look at what Abbi and Ilana have been up to through the perspective of their bathrooms. (Watch it here. And then watch it at least four more times. You’ll catch something new every time.) However, it doesn’t get more #BC3 than toward the end, after a day filled with hijinks, Abbi and Ilana finally make it to Abbi’s old roommate’s first big art show. Though I don’t want to give away the major spoiler, the BC babes commit to a really really awkward moment – by now their bread and butter on the show. They let it linger like the smell when you cook with fish sauce – it makes you cringe but you know it’s going to be really, really tasty in the end.
Meh moment: The whole episode was a tiny bit disjointed. Normally there is a unifying theme that takes the girls on adventures through the city like a secret Lil Wayne concert or a birthday dinner that dad already paid for. The entire episode I was wondering what exactly they were looking for: a usable public bathroom? A way to get Ilana’s bike chain off from around her waist? Or just an endless supply of mimosas? I can’t complain though, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and Ilana said on Andy Greenwald’s podcast that this season will be “the most cumulatively rewarding.”
Max Ann: “I recognize you from Abbi’s Instagram.”
Ilana: “That means so much to me.”
Most looking forward to: Abbi and Ilana have said in interviews that their characters have to grow up a little bit in this season because that’s what happens in real life. Does this mean Ilana and Lincoln will make it Facebook official? Does this mean Abbi will get promoted to trainer at the gym she works at?? Does this mean *gasp* that BC will actually tackle a serious topic in a serious way? (I hope not.)
Best scene: Season 1 opens with a wedding, which is topical for me as two of my very good friends will be getting married very soon. I think the best scene in this episode is an important moment in Marnie and Hannah’s friendship. Nothing is going right on Marnie’s wedding day and she hides out in the bathroom with her scary clown makeup streaming down her face. When Hannah tries to console her, Marnie complains that Hannah has been a shitty friend and Hannah says it’s because she’s scared that Marnie is getting married and everything is about to change. Girl, I feel you. The idea of any of my friends being Mrs. Anyone and creating this new life that has nothing to do with our circle of friends is scary, even if the one getting hitched isn’t marrying a total douchebag like Desi.
Instead of Hannah confronting Marnie and telling her that her husband-to-be has actually been engaged 7 other times, Hannah gives Marnie and hug and assures her she’s doing the right thing, which I think is the right move when your friend already has their white dress on.
Meh moment: The show’s attempt to be more diverse by bringing in Desi’s best friend Wolfie, played by Baron Vaughn. The character has no depth at all, and you don’t get the feeling he’s going to stick around. At least when they did it with Donald Glover (as Hannah’s fiercely Republican lover in the beginning of season 2), it felt like it could have really happened, like the character fit in with the rest of the story.
Marnie on her wedding aesthetic: “Let’s do, like, a Ralph Lauren and Joni Mitchell – artistic, but also with a nod to my cultural heritage which is white Christian woman.”
Ray to Fran (Hannah’s new boyfriend, who has been banished to the men’s quarters while the girls get ready): “Settle in, son and let the nightmare wash over you.” (Ray is the Mr. Razz’s favorite character and this is why).
Most looking forward to: I literally said “oh no oh no oh no” when Adam and Jessa kissed. And then they kiss again, with passion, after Jessa claims she can’t. This development probably made any diehard of the show feel a little sick…a muted version of the way you would feel if one of your best friends kissed your ex. But upon reflection, it makes sense. Adam and Jessa are both recovering addicts and they leaned on each other last season when Hannah went away to school in Iowa. I cannot fucking wait to see what becomes of this budding relationship.
Tune in every Monday for more Broad City and Girls recaps!
Catch Broad City Wednesdays at 9 on Comedy Central, and Girls Sundays at 10 on HBO.