Broad City burst onto our screens in 2014 with an immediately popular debut season, showcasing a uniquely joyous expression of slackerdom and riotous self-absorption. Eminently quoteable and relatable, the show exudes confidence and cool from its very bones, all thanks to the talented comic duo of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
These fictionalised versions of the two women’s younger selves have given us plenty of hilarious moments, and to celebrate the beginning of its second season tonight, I’ve picked my top ten favourite moments from Broad City season one.
10. The confessions of Jaime (Episode Seven, Hurricane Wanda)
Hurricane Wanda takes all the weirdness of your average episode of Broad City and condenses it into the confines of Abbi’s apartment. It’s potentially the most surreal episode of the season, culminating in a bizarre take on an Agatha Christie denouement where Marla Bevers (Shannon O’Neill) attempts to discover who took a shit in her shoe. But the biggest laughs of the episode come from the many confessions of Jaime (Arturo Castro), Ilana’s Venezuelan roommate.
Convinced he might die in the hurricane, Jaime embarks on a series of seemingly mundane disclosures about having swapped his laptop charger or that he eats corn on the cob whole. The joke pays off because of the total sincerity of Jaimes anguish after his final revelation that his pet turtle Franklin’s private name was the n-word, set to the theme from American Beauty, and Lincoln’s utterly chilled reaction.
9. The perverted locksmith (Episode Four, The Lockout)
Broad City is often at its best when Abbi and Ilana are encountering (or being) something disgusting. The encounter with the locksmith after Ilana (seemingly) locks herself and Abbi out of the apartment creates a hilarious tangent to the episode’s A-plot.
Lying and letting themselves into an entirely different apartment to escape the perversion of the locksmith (Steven Ogg), they find themselves in a Mexican family’s apartment, leading to Ilana’s memorable riff on the gentrification and their subsequent macing when the couple return home. On a serious note, the locksmith was seriously creepy, so it was pretty satisfying to see him get maced in the episode tag.
8. Apartment hunting with Amy Sedaris (Episode Nine, Apartment Hunters)
Amy Sedaris cameos as Pam, the real estate agent who’s showing Abbi apartments when Bevers (John Gemberling and his Juliana Margulies fantasies push her too far. Chaotic driving, neck-brace and unique selling techniques (“I make dolls out of human hair. Who’s thirsty?”) are abundant as Abbi quickly realises that the New York property market is not a good place for a slacker twenty-something.
Sedaris has probably the most memorable cameo from the first season, even above Amy Poehler’s appearance in episode 10; her utterly unhinged performance gives the pair a rare chance to both play scenes straight, and achieves what only Hannibal Burress has managed in the show’s first season- she steals the show from Abbi and Ilana.
7. Sex dream inception (Episode Seven, Hurricane Wanda)
Another entry for Hurricane Wanda. The biggest laugh of the episode is at its very start- we see what we assume is Abbi’s sex dream, involving her hot neighbour Jeremy (Stephen Schneider) offering to fix Abbi’s shelf and oiling himself up to do so.
But wait- it’s Jeremy’s dream (and the sequence could have made the list for Schneider’s delivery of “great big humongous boner” alone), until it isn’t, when it’s Abbi’s dream again, until we finally realise through Abbi’s confession to Ilana that she wants to masturbate next to her that it’s Ilana dreaming this whole time. At work. At 5pm. Just how has she kept that job again?
It’s the little details that make the scene- why is Abbi shrinking in Ilana’s mind? Why does Ilana think that Jeremy fantasises about oiling himself up? Why does dream Ilana have an afro? We’ll never know.
6. Nature’s pocket (Episode Two, Pu$$y Weed)
This was probably the moment when I first realised that I loved Broad City. Abbi storms out of her apartment after a row with not-roommate Bevers about Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons- which I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character be so passionate about- and heads to Ilana’s apartment. Abbi soon discovers that the weed that Ilana has been giving her has been stored in Ilana’s vagina all this time- or, as Ilana puts it, “nature’s pocket.”
What makes this moment special- other than the hilarity of Ilana’s impassioned justifications for her “vayaña” and Abbi’s abject horror- is that it’s a specifically female brand of gross out humour. Abbi and Ilana are unashamed of their bodily functions, and this moment really hits home that fact, confirming it as one of the show’s strongest assets.
5. email@example.com (Episode Five, Fattest Asses)
The recurring gag that Ilana really, really ought to be fired from her job could grow stale in a lesser series, but Broad City excels at creating uniquely bizarre ways in which her work-life is totally inappropriate.
Beyond her hour long naps and her requests to be moved to the “corporate morale department”, Ilana’s oddest act of impropriety is surely her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, a gag so good that they bring it up again three episodes later. There’s not a single day since this episode aired that I haven’t wanted to change my email address, so kudos to the writers for that.
4. ADRENALINE (Episode Ten, The Last Supper)
Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll never fail to laugh at a well-placed music choice. In the first season’s final episode, Abbi and Ilana go to a fancy restaurant (courtesy of Abbi’s father) to celebrate Abbi’s 26th birthday. Needless to say, they are hopelessly out of place, dressed in next to nothing and recklessly endangering themselves, be it through accidentally unprotected sex or severe allergic reactions to shellfish.
When Ilana finally starts to go into anaphylactic shock, Abbi attempts to give her insulin and misses, hitting herself instead and resulting in one of Abbi Jacobson’s finest performances. Crushing glasses in her fists and jumping onto tables, she carries the severely injured Ilana out of the restaurant to a deeply moving rendition of Ave Maria. Simply beautiful…
3. Gross sex list (Episode Ten, The Last Summer)
This scene comes almost immediately after my previous choice, and is in fact the last of the series. Abbi and Ilana leave the hospital together following Ilana’s allergic reaction, and walk home talking about which weird celebrities they would still have sex with.
Sounds unremarkable, doesn’t it? But seeing the two women attempt to put a positive spin on such horrifying events is the show’s messy, optimistic heart. And frankly, the gross sex list game is fucking fantastic. Try it with your relatives some time. It’s the spirit of Broad City condensed into one short scene, and a fantastic way to end the first season- with Abbi and Ilana making each other laugh.
2. I’m not a Mom (Episode Two, Pu$$y Weed)
My favourite moments in Broad City are usually when Abbi is allowed to be just as crazy as Ilana. Abbi’s weed induced haze is hilarious enough alone- ‘cause let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see a stoned twenty five year old play with model teeth in a dentist waiting room.
But her complete despair when a stranger asks her how many children she has is beautifully captured when Abbie decides to simply roll on her side out of the room without answering. Her bathroom pep-talk (“I’m not a mom, I’m a GROWN ASS WOMAN.”) is vaguely reminiscent of the talk I give myself every morning, and so this moment couldn’t not make the list.
1. Started from the bottom (Episode Nine, Apartment Hunters)
A predictable choice for anyone who knows the show well, but one that had to be made. Abbi and Ilana’s love of nineties hip hop is practically Broad City gospel, but nowhere is it more evident than in the cold open to episode 9.
The duo’s delightful overconfidence spills over into an imagined musical tribute to Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot, as they strut into the bank with a cheque for “EIGHT THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS” to the tune of Drake’s Started From The Bottom. Simply put, it’s the most iconic sequence of the show’s history so far, and a perfect guide to the ethos and tone of Broad City– an irreverent take on the falsely grandiose imaginings of two twenty-something losers in New York.