Before “Broad City,” both Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson were two college graduates auditioning for theatre companies while living in New York City.
“Together for two years before starting the web series, we kept auditioning for house teams of theatre Companies like UCB,” says Glazer.
Unable to get on a team, both Glazer and Jacobson used social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to create and promote their own web series, “Broad City.”
“Social media is what made the show for us,” says Jacobson. “It was a group effort to share our videos and get bloggers and people writing about it.”
Three years after their web series ended, “Broad City” was reintroduced as a new television series that premiered on Jan. 22, 2014.
“It was an interesting thing going from these two to four minute situations to these full sitcom length stories,” says Jacobson. “It was a really fun problem to have to try and figure out the challenge of making it longer, more dynamic and building up the world.”
The show centers on Glazer and Jacobson as they portray fictionalized versions of themselves as two college graduates trying to make it big in New York City.
“The characters relate to us and are similar inside of us, but I think in real life we’re more well-rounded people,” says Glazer. “It’s just an extreme version of ourselves blown up to a 100 percent.”
In “Broad City,” Glazer and Jacobson do occasionally revisit scenarios from their previous web series.
“We’re careful in choosing what we’re going to retain from the web series for the most part,” says Glazer. “There are other scenarios we expanded from the web series and took in a new direction to make it something more timely and relevant to us now.”
The scenarios in the show were not only inspired by events that happened in Glazer and Jacobson’s lives, but their friends and the show’s writers, too.
“Somewhere within the episode or scenes in general, there’s an inkling of something that’s happened in real life,” says Jacobson.
Jacobson described the tone of the show as being “heightened realism.”
“We make it grounded with the characters’ relationships and friendships, but I think we heighten it to a silly level of exaggerated realism,” says Jacobson.
While some critics have noted possibilities of feminist undertones in “Broad City,” Jacobson says that it wasn’t in their mindset when writing the show.
“We don’t have that agenda of ‘better make sure this is feminist,’ but that is an awesome word to describe us in the show,” says Jacobson.
Neither woman claim that it’s a show about female comedians or female writers, but a comedy about people.
“If that’s the reaction it gets, that’s great, but hopefully it gets a wide range of reactions,” says Jacobson.
It wasn’t until writing for television that a gender conflict in comedy became more apparent to the duo. With a greater emphasis on raunchy comedy involving two female protagonists, Glazer feels that the world is ready for equal representation of women in comedy.
“Only now that we’ve gotten to this mainstream platform has this gender issue come to our attention,” says Glazer. “I also think it’s funnier and more surprising when it’s the rule of who’s not supposed to be raunchy.”
Amy Poehler, star of “Parks and Recreation” and executive producer of “Broad City,” has been actively involved in the writing, directing and editing process in the show’s production.
“She is so experienced in television, brilliant and funny—who wouldn’t want her opinion?” says Glazer.
With Poehler as executive producer, her experience with television has influenced the show’s production.
“We shoot it like in ‘Parks and Recreation’ where they’ll do three scripted takes and then they’ll do a fun run,” says Jacobson. “In our case we do more than one fun run if it’s going really well.”
With the show being picked up for a second season, the “Broad City” tour has been postponed until November. New episodes of “Broad City” can be seen Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.