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Why Broad City Is the Comedy We Need

It finds the joy in the struggle and so much more

Joyce Eng

Broad City is a stoner comedy. Yes, in that Abbi and Ilana smoke a ton of weed. But also in the high we get from watching it: giddy, blissed-out, trippy and just kind of effin' weird.

It's also exactly the type of show we need.

The setup of the series, which recently finished its even better second season, is nothing groundbreaking. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer play heightened versions of themselves trying to make it in the Big Apple. They have unsatisfying jobs, they crush on their hot neighbors, they shoot the breeze with their pals, they try to survive an overheated and overcrowded subway, and they get so high, they rampage through Whole Foods in the surrealist of fantasy sequences.

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The genius of Broad City, though, is that it finds the joy in the struggle. No show is more a realistic portrait of what life is actually like for twentysomethings just trying to make it through the day. There's an exciting candor and proud, unruly abandon to the way they embrace their imperfections and everyday predicaments and just the sheer hustle of it all. When Abbi buys an air conditioner, someone steals it while she tries to hail a cab. It's a pain in the ass, but they deal with it. There's no woe-is-me or why-can't-I-have-it-all attitude so pervasive in shows and movies.

"A lot of this wasn't intentional when we first started [on the web series]," Glazer tells TVGuide.com. "But seeing people respond to it is important to us because something that we have been conscious of is being inclusive with our comedy rather than exclusive. I don't know if comics really rip into people the way they used to in their standup like they did in the '90s. But that's the classic example of alienating your audience. We want people to feel like they're right there with us... but messaging came in after. We still aren't trying to be intentional, although we have this ethical code that we abide by, just like how everybody does in their real life. It's more important now that [people are] saying that. We didn't start out thinking like that. It's more like including the audience."

That inclusiveness extends to how they open-mindedly treat more sensitive topics -- there was no judgment in the now-famous pegging episode -- and the way they mix the mundane with the absurd. Nothing is too innocuous or out-there for them to seamlessly blend together. "We always try to make there to be a seed of truth there and the absurdity comes when we question those seeds," Jacobson says. "It's just a balance of how far we want to heighten it. Like, in Season 1, when we had to go get Jeremy's package on North Brother Island. That's based on something so real. To go get a package in New York, you have to go to the middle of nowhere and it takes forever, so while that is something that actually happens, it's also heightened to the craziest place."

Jacobson and Glazer are allowed to reach those absurd heights because of the backbone of the show: the girls' friendship. It's the type of best buds-ship of constant support and love in which you can truly be your wacky self... and that can kind of get you into trouble. But it's cool because at the end of the day, you've got each other. That, in fact, was in the forefront of their minds when they started the web series that caught the eye of Amy Poehler, who now produces the show.

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"We knew the reason we were doing it in the first place was because we felt like our dynamic as friends was unique and different from our other friendships," Jacobson says. "Without a doubt, we go into surreal territory and do fantasy sequences, but that core dynamic lets us to do that because we can always go back to that grounded friendship. We think that's fun and real because [these friendships] like ours do exist between young people, even if you don't see it portrayed a lot. And hearing from everyone is really wonderful."

The duo has finally had time to process the overwhelming response and accolades the show has earned since it premiered last year. (Glazer's been nominated for two Critics' Choice Awards and the show was nominated for comedy series the past two years as well.) "Between Season 1 and Season 2, we had one day off between editing and starting to write," Glazer says. "There was no time to absorb the reality of what was happening whereas this year we had a couple months in between ... and we're a little more in our heads. It's interesting. Reviews or not, it's just the fact that there's this show and world established. The experience of writing the show keeps changing. I guess there is pressure now, but it's more just about speaking about the show differently. We still want keep doing everything we do next season."

But there will be one big difference. "I'm not gonna say where or when, but let's just say the girls might leave the Big Apple," she teases. You can take the girls out of the city, but can you take the city out of the girls? "I think you just answered that."

Season 3 of Broad City returns next year on Comedy Central.