When a comedy has the sort of debut season that Broad City had—admirably confident right out of the gate, immediately successful and beloved by an obsessively devoted contingent of fans (the girls straight-out owned New York Comic Con last year), countless memorable scenes and quotes that skipped past simple watercooler conversation and became part of the lexicon—a little hesitancy about its return is to be expected. Would the show live up to the first season, or was that just a fluke? Do Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have enough material to keep up the insane highs that made Broad City’s first season so wonderfully unique and hilarious? Of course they do, and upon viewing season two, you’ll realize there was never any question.
Abbi and Ilana are back and as unapologetic and funny as ever. Broad City season two is simultaneously old and new, with the same madcap stoner hilarity and a handful of fresh new faces (Seth Rogen, Kumail Nanjiani, and Susie Essman—as Ilana’s mother!—to name a few). But even these great comedic actors never distract from who is really in charge. Abbi and Ilana (and Jacobson and Glazer) continue to dominate the screen, whether Abbi is sinking into the comforting arms of a Bed Bath & Beyond employee or Ilana is flaunting her stylish-as-hell “white power suit” (but she should maybe re-think the wording on that). And when the two are working together? Unstoppable.
The friendship between Abbi and Ilana drives the show, and this strong bond continues to tie everything together. It’s the best part of every episode: No matter what happens throughout the course of the half-hour, no matter where the journey takes them, Abbi and Ilana will often end up by each other’s side, hashing out the day’s events or just shooting the shit. Season two continues to highlight this bond, as the two casually discuss everything from defecating while giving birth to the stray hairs you find in questionable places while taking a shower. They are ideal friends, so close that their love for each other is near-tangible, and nothing is off-limits between them. When Abbi calls her best friend during a hook-up session, Ilana answers the phone not with a “Hello” but with a “Cut or uncut?”
Season two sees the return of another major Broad City element: the frenetic energy that propels the girls—and the series—through New York City. The two are constantly moving: through various cars on a crowded subway, with an air conditioner being lugged down a sidewalk, in the back of a shady van while buying purses, and so on. To “make it” in New York City as a twentysomething (or to make it anywhere, really, at any age), it’s crucial to keep moving both physically and emotionally. Abbi and Ilana are especially aware of this, even if it’s just a small-time hustle like scamming a pair of free movie passes so they can kill a day bouncing from theater to theater.
No show on television understands the screwed-up, naive but inevitable romanticization of New York City like Broad City. The season-two premiere, “In Heat,” opens with a hilariously familiar subway scene, with Abbi and Ilana squeezing their way through the usual suspects: the people with giant yoga mats, the subway dancers, the disgusting couple loudly making out, and the toenail clippers. The scene brings to mind the beautiful black-and-white sequence from Louie’s “Subway/Pamela”—but with the necessary Broad City flavor. The show’s stellar (but rarely mentioned) directing and cinematography provide a fluidity that works well with the overall kinetic energy, from sweeping shots of Chinatown streets to the girls simply riding an escalator.
Much like last season’s “Working Girls”—in which Abbi retrieves a package from a faraway UPS—“In Heat” focuses on another near-impossible quest: finding a cheap air conditioner, and managing to get it home without the use of a car. Plots like this let Broad City truly shine, when the writers take a small, uninteresting task and blow it up to comedic heights, finding the bizarre in the normal, and turning something as unremarkable as a Bed Bath & Beyond trip into a fantastic character moment for Abbi. The next two episodes are just as great, with Bevers getting his (gross) moment in the spotlight, the return of both Hannibal Buress and Chris Gethard, and an introduction to Ilana’s flawless mother.
But at the end of the day, nothing in this series can compare to the very existence of Abbi and Ilana. Underneath the sticky NYC summer days, the various men that enter and leave their lives, the constant underemployment both women face, and the resin at the bottom of the bowl, Broad City will always belong to Abbi and Ilana, the head bitches of comedy.