Fulfilling Female Friendship is the Realest — and Best — Part of Broad City

Friendships can be just as gratifying and complicated and passionate as romantic relationships, and it's thrilling to see that level of affection on screen
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Publish date:
February 17, 2016
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Female Friendships, Women In Media, broad city

Broad City, returning tonight — woohoo! — is delightful in so many ways, but for me the best part of the show is not the slightly surreal humor or the .gif opportunities or the appearances by Hannibal Buress and Amy Poehler and Seth Rogen. It’s the very precise portrayal of a female friendship that is all-encompassing, all-consuming, and utterly fulfilling. Abbi and Ilana's friendship isn't quite as silly as those on Friends, or as caustic as that of the girls of Girls. And while Leslie and Ann on Parks and Recreation or the Sex and the City crew come close to having the deep bond we see of Broad City, overwhelmingly their choices still hinge more on work and men, respectively, than on the wellbeing of one another.

Work and family (and weed) are all secondary concerns on Broad City. It's very clear — Abbi and Ilana’s friendship is the centerpiece of the show and their lives. They celebrate each other's work accomplishments and each and every tiny victory over New York’s assholes; they go all out for birthdays and pick each other up after wisdom-teeth surgery. They consult each other before trying new sex acts. Men and dating are a byproduct of regular sex and do not get in the way of the centerpiece female friendship. In fact, the very first scene of the entire series is Abbi and Ilana chatting over FaceTime while one of them literally has a man inside of her.

They are deeply affectionate, fawning, even romantic. Their biggest conflict on the show to date was the revelation that Abbi may have experimented sexually with a woman who isn’t Ilana. “You said you would do same-sex experimentation with me!” Ilana cried. “It was implied!”

It’s fun and important and nourishing to see a friendship on TV that resembles the essential relationships of my life, namely, those I have with my friends. One of my best friends is brilliant, ambitious, hilarious, and fun and she has an ass that won’t quit. I compliment her on it regularly and encourage her to dress only in outfits that Jennifer Lopez might also wear. She and I had dinner recently and, when we were joined by a third friend, my booty-blessed friend dropped her fork in shock. “Holy shit, you look so beautiful today,” she told her. And she meant it.

Friendships can be just as gratifying and complicated and passionate as romantic relationships, and it's thrilling to see that level of affection on screen and to have it in my own life. It's my female friends that send me flowers after a work victory, and my female friends who leave work to sit with me in an ER when I think a migraine is a brain tumor, and it's those friends who encourage and amuse and accompany me all day every day on group text. It’s particularly necessary to see it at an era like this, when there are more single adults than married ones for the first time in American history.

Friendship is changing to become a more vital (unlike, some could argue, marriage) part of life, to fill in the gaps left by a dying romantic institution and a freaky economy and an unstable job market and never-ending student debt. Who needs a secure financial future or a steady job when you have a best friend? Especially if she has the ass of an angel.

Broad City returns tonight, and I'm so excited to see how these characters and their friendship continues to develop. It doesn't quite matter if Ilana and Lincoln get more serious, or if Abbi is finally allowed to teach a class at the gym, or any other traditional plot developments. It only matters that they fall ever more in love.