TV review: Broad City, Comedy Central (4 stars)

A darkly pleasing sitcom about two hapless NYC pals

TV review: Broad City, Comedy Central

Two women in their 20s trying to get on an even keel in New York City with love lives and finances on the floor? It might sound more than a little like 2 Broke Girls, but Broad City is about as close to that show as Porridge was to Prisoner Cell Block H.

At its coarsest level, the titles tell their own story: it’s ‘girls’ versus ‘broads’. To wit, the very opening scene which features a seemingly innocent webcam chat between our two anti-heroines, Ilana (Ilana Glazer) and Abbi (Abbi Jacobson), when it becomes obvious that one of them is up to no good.

While the opener features appearances from stand-up Hannibal Buress (in a recurring role as a dentist and fuckbuddy of Ilana’s) and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen (playing a very disturbing man-baby), the list of later cameos is both effortlessly and painfully cool: Amy Poehler (one of the show’s executive producers), Janeane Garofalo, Kumail Nanjiani, Patricia Clarkson and Seth Rogen. I mean, come on.

Plus, Susie Essman (aka Curb Your Enthusiasm’s prolific swearing machine) and Bob Balaban (he’s only been in everything from Midnight Cowboy to Miami Vice) play Ilana’s parents.

Ilana works for an obscure sales company (where sales are negligible and the company is awful) while Abbi struggles to keep her sanity at a rather arch fitness centre called Soulstice where she cleans toilets and has dirty towels thrown in her face. Both have different dreams: Abbi yearns to be an illustrator, Ilana wants to smoke pot and do as little as humanly possible. That strategy frequently ends in escapades which lead to the usually innocent Abbi coming a cropper.

It should have been obvious from the show’s trailer that this would be no average sitcom: the pair skip down the street before being smashed into by a bus. On the face of it Broad City might seem a jolly if oddball comedy, but a dark, bleeding heart is throbbing underneath.

Broad City starts on Comedy Central, Tue 28 Apr, 10pm


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