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Broad City's satire of young, urban life is as sharp as ever

The thing that sets this show apart is its characters, and the warmth of their friendship.

“Another one bites the dust! The New York City Snipper is at it again.” This news voiceover opens the fourth season of Broad City. Barely ten minutes later, Abbi’s ponytail has been lopped off, and Ilana’s been fired from her job, picking up a black eye to boot. Where else could we be but Abbi and Ilana’s strange and often horrific New York City?

When it premiered in 2014, Broad City – created by and starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer – was praised for its unusual mix of a relatable female best-friendship with dreamlike plots. Four seasons on, you might worry this combination would be getting tired. Meandering plots have familiar triggers, like undelivered parcels and unexpected short-term windfalls, while this season adds RuPaul and Shania Twain to Broad City’s long list of celebrity guests (none top last season’s Hillary Clinton cameo).

A not particularly subtle episode about Ilana’s sex life reveals she has been unable to orgasm since Donald Trump was elected president. But the show’s understanding of the gruesomeness of young, urban life is as sharp as ever. “I did read that terrible New York Times headline about the exploited salon workers,” Ilana says patronisingly to a nail studio owner, skewering liberal millennial reading habits, attention spans, casual racism and white guilt in about ten words.

The thing that sets Broad City apart from its peers is its characters, and the warmth of their friendship. A flashback to the day Abbi and Ilana first met, in 2011, is set to New York City pop duo Cults’ track “Go Outside”, released that year. Coming after a barrage of terrible, farcical events, it’s a surprisingly touching scene: nostalgic, familiar, and funny. It’s moments like these that keep us watching these ridiculous, recognisable characters, almost four years after our own first encounter. 

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 28 September 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tragedy

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SRSLY #132: Lady Bird / Collateral / The Young Offenders

On the pop culture podcast: Greta Gerwig's film Lady Bird, the BBC police drama Collateral, and the Irish comedy Young Offenders.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

Listen using the player below. . .

. . .or subscribe in iTunes. We’re also on StitcherRSS and SoundCloud – but if you use a podcast app that we’re not appearing in, let us know.

SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s head of podcasts and pop culture writer. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

The Links

Lady Bird

The trailer.

The NS review.

Collateral

The show on BBC iPlayer.

Young Offenders

Watch it now.

An interview with the cast.

Book club

For our 27 February book club episode, we are reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Order it in print here or as an audiobook on Audible here.

Tweet us on #srslybookclub to tell us your thoughts as you read, and send us a voice memo with your review of the book at srslypod@gmail.com.

You can find us on Twitter @srslypod, or send us your thoughts on tumblr here. If you like the podcast, we’d love you to leave a review on iTunes - this helps other people come across it.

Get in touch

We love reading out your emails. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we’ve discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at]gmail.com, or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!