8:00pm PT by Paige Phelan
'Broad City' Creators Reflect on Fantasies, Hot Friends, Moving On From "Literal Infancy"
[This story contains spoilers from the season two finale of Broad City.]
Just like impassioned and hedonistic Ilana (Ilana Glazer), Broad City is now another year older and another year funnier. The raunchy and already renewed Comedy Central series from the minds of Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, who plays namesake and Ilana's partner-in-crime Abbi, wrapped its second season Wednesday with an episode packed with guest stars, heart and the show's trademark hijinks.
As the two BFFs descended again upon St. Mark's Place to mark the occasion of Ilana's birth, the two find their night's tidy plans disrupted by obnoxious former college classmates (and their horrible avant-garde theater invitations), a purse-stealing, grad-school dropout punk, and an imposing but ultimately friendly
Groot green tree man.
Sporting novelty tees and returned wigs, and sadly lacking dumplings, Abbi and Ilana end the season with reflections on the year that's passed and a few hopes for the future.
Following their characters lead, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Jacobson and Glazer to reflect on their journey in season two and find out where their characters go from here.
The finale saw the girls venturing among the crowds in St. Mark's Place. With the show so specific about New York, what would you say sets Broad City's New York apart from other, similar shows, like Girls, Friends, 2 Broke Girls, etc.?
Jacobson: It's specific to my and Ilana's experiences in New York. We haven't explored it too much yet, but my character lives in Astoria and Ilana's character lives in Gowanus [Brooklyn], and your friends don't live around the corner from you or all in the same apartment. We tried a lot to show our [transportation] on the subway. That was a huge thing for us to show that their whole world is the subway. We shoot so much on location and we try to show different parts of New York.
Glazer: Our attention to minutiae. We don't live around the corner from each other. We find the comedy and the absurdity in that minutiae. Each show has its own set of values and ethics and being true to the nitty, gritty details is a huge.
What's the biggest difference you noticed in completing this season vs. your first?
Jacobson: The first season out, we were not sure about how the whole process worked. Each part of the process was a new thing for us. The second season, we knew what to expect in terms of what the shoot would be like and ways of troubleshooting — like, what issues we came up against in the first season down to, like, getting music ahead of time and being prepared with punch-ups, alternate actors and all sort of problems we never would have thought about before.
Glazer: The first [season] was just, like, literal infancy. [We would] take everything in and absorb as much as we can, and try to note it so we could remember it later. This season was more like, "I wonder if that was a coincidence that that happened or may be that truly is our process." I'm excited for the third season, when a pattern is formed to be like, "No, this is how we do it." I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have the third season because it is going to be really informative to us in a solidifying what our process is — like the gods will tell us what should happen and make it happen in front of us.
The show started out as a sketch at UCB before it became a successful web series and then a TV series. What was it like, especially in this second season, breaking away from that web series all together and starting to tell new stories? Did it change your writing process at all?
Glazer: It definitely affected out pitch process because you could see what the tone would be like. For us to be able to show episodes ahead of time was a huge part of our pitch. We often look back at the web series almost like mini-metaphors for what we go through now in a larger, more complicated version because there's more people and more personalities. We refer back to the web series sometimes [to find] certain absolute truths about the Broad City world.
Did the success of the first season, being one of the top-rated shows on Comedy Central, allow you to push boundaries more in season two now that people were familiar with your show's style of comedy?
Jacobson: We wrote the second season while the first season was still airing, so there wasn't really a huge time period where we were able to process what people responded to. I mean, we did a little bit, but it was between the writers, crew and cast; it was us processing what works and trying to play more and expand the world.
This second season has seen its share of outrageous moments, from the pegging episode to falling down the matrix in Central Park. How do you balance these almost absurd elements while still keeping the show grounded? Is it even important to keep it grounded?
Jacobson: I think the best fantasy sequences we have on the show work because weirdly they are really grounded. They are based on an emotion that we all feel, like the bank scene [from season one's "Apartment Hunters"], where something happens in your life that makes you feel like a baller. And getting to live that for a second. It's always based in a real emotion, and we play it up into this fantastical place. They're our crew's favorite moments of the show because they get to do a music video all of the sudden. I think it is always based in some sort of grounded place.
Has there been a moment that you or the network felt might have gone too far?
Jacobson: There was this incest scene in the wedding episode, which is the eighth episode of the first season, and we did pull back a little. You didn't see the whole thing, but I think that may be the only one.
Glazer: The network is never like, "You shouldn't do this." Comedy Central executives are so artistic and art-driven that they really encourage us to lean in toward what feels right artistically.
One of the other big elements the show balances is Abbi and Ilana's relationship, with Ilana really being the id and the hedonist, and Abbi trying to bring her back down to earth. How do you work to maintain that constant balance?
Glazer: Are you talking in the show or real life?
[All laughing] The show.
Glazer: There's certainly overlap, so I just want to make sure ...
Jacobson: No, there's not! No, there's not! (Laughs.)
Glazer: (Laughs.) In real life, we are very similar, but in Broad City, what's so funny to us is teasing out the differences and heightening those. In real life, it's more about two real friends, and one's going to do a crazy thingy and the other one grounds them and then it flips, and whatever comes up in life occurs. That was such a fun and exciting thing for the second season to flip those expectations.
Is it tougher to maintain the balance when the roles switch?
Glazer: When you're writing comedy — I haven't written drama yet, so I don't know how that feels — you can feel a rhythm happening, and you have to fill it in with what the story needs. You can feel when someone is on stage doing stand-up and their set up needs the joke already or the joke came too early. It's the same thing with writing scripts. Two crazy people and you end up watching two crazy people. There's no tension there to get what's [important] the audience, something to watch for. We just try to look at what story's going to be the funniest and then serve that story and let the characters serve that story.
Jacobson: When the episodes are short, the whole season ends up being a puzzle. We don't sit down and say, "Oh, we've got to make Abby crazy this time and then we're going to switch it." It just ends up that the storyline goes better with Ilana because it's based on something that happened with her, and then it's figuring out how it would play best.
Now that you're heading into season three, what's next for the girls? Will we see Ilana moving toward something, if not at her job, at least with maybe calling Lincoln her boyfriend? How farsighted are your character arcs?
Jacobson: We talk about this a lot because there aren't a lot of big arcs over the season, because each episode is a day. We're really not seeing much time pass and these characters don't grow very much, which is something that is nice because we get to play with them in the state they're in now. We don't have anything amazing that we're not revealing, but we would love to see something like that happen.
There have been some amazing guest stars this season, from Seth Rogen, to Kelly Ripa, to Susie Essman and Bob Balaban as Ilana's parents. Will we see any of them again? Do you have any dream guest stars for season three?
Jacobson: There's so many we would love to use. [The finale] had some amazing guest stars, too, and I think it was really cool to get more dramatic actors in such a hard comedy. We'd love to see Ilana's family again. I don't want to say yes, for sure, because we haven't written anything yet, but I don't why we wouldn't do that. With any guest stars we use, we always think of the story first and then put them in. We never want to have an actor on just to get them in.
Glazer: It's as fun for us to play with heroes of ours like Susie Essman and Bob Balaban, who played my dad. Seth Rogen was on for an episode, Alia Shawkat, Kelly Ripa. It's also like so cool, again Comedy Central is just so down, we put in fresh faces from the New York comedy scene in too, and that's awesome for us.
One of your great guest stars was Alia Shawkat, who revealed a little bit more about Ilana's sexual fluidity. That, combined with Ilana's borderline stalker obsession with Abbi, will there ever, perhaps, be something more between Abbi and Ilana? Or will that just stay as will-they-won't-they tension?
Glazer: (Laughs.) We don't plan too far in advance until we get into the writer's room. We're OK with that tension there, that something in comedy being a conversation between the artist and the audience, and the audience really wants that. We don't have plans; we like to get into the room and improvise. But it's interesting to even think about that coming to fruition. We just consider that part of their friendship at this point. Anything can happen.
What did you think about season two? Sound off in the comments below.