The comedy Broad City is a web series made by Iliana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson that begun in 2014 starring two women located in New York and explores their daily lives as they face absurd and unusual activities. As a web series Broad City questions the way traditional television is watched and challenges the norms of New York’s culture through the perspective of two young females.
Similar to network shows ‘like ‘Girls’ ‘New Girl’ and ‘Two Broke Girls’’(Blair, E, 2014) Broad City differs in that it started independently and has now gained almost a cult following that it is now being broadcast on the Comedy Central network.
A web series is a web based production that is uploaded and streamed off websites such as YouTube. People uploading to YouTube begun relying less on ‘one hit viral’ videos and begun relying on the consistent uploads to gain a following audience such as broad city has done (Williams, D, 2012, pp.11).
Web series such as Broad City are now being watched in a completely different way to traditional television series. It can be watched anywhere at any time and this is possible due to the developing technology and the shortness of these ‘webisodes’.
Unlike traditional television series that is broadcast once a week at a certain time, web series can be watched one after the other, a phenomenon labelled ‘binge watching’. This is only increasing along with quicker and better quality internet (Williams, D, 2012 pp.11). Although traditional television series can be binge watched this could only happen once the show has come out on DVD.
Broad City explores the notion of culture and subculture. It’s not hard to guess with the title ‘Broad City’ that the show explores diversity. The characters are located in New York, which is known for its diverse society and endless possibilities. Through its satirical tone Broad City challenges and considers New Yorks culture and subcultures.
For example in the episode watched in class, the two main characters Abbi and Ilana face the issue of homelessness and the morals that surround it in the episode ‘Making Change’. Homelessness is a well known issue in New York as numbers reached higher than ever before in 2001 (Bernstein, N. 2001).
It isn’t just homelessness that this web series tackles, it also explores various other aspects of New Yorks culture especially youth culture such as catching the subway or a cab, buskers and the busyness of the city. The episode that clearly expresses this specific New York youth culture is ‘I Heart New York’, as it covers these cliché norms of the city through its humour.
Each episode provides a completely different setting, situation and includes sub characters, in doing so it captures the fluctuating diversity of New York. However, a constant theme throughout the whole web series is the togetherness of the characters within the ‘Broad City’ that binds the series together.
Bernstein, N (2001). Rise in Homelessness, Late Edition (East Coast) edn, New York, N.Y.
Blair, E. (2014). ‘THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING DIRTY’, New Republic, vol. 244, no. 28, pp. 7-8
Williams, D. (2012). Web TV series. New York: Oldcastle Books, pp. 11