11:30 AM EST, January 20, 2014
Like a lot of Web-to-TV transplants, "Broad City" feels a trifle narrow, and occasionally labors to find enough material to fill even a half-hour. At its core, though, this Comedy Central series has an endearing pair in cash-strapped twentysomething pals, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, struggling to survive in New York. The demo, gender and location will likely invite comparisons to "Girls," but with a zanier tone and less angst-ridden self-indulgence, these girls are clearly all about the comedy - a spritz of fresh air on a network where most offerings have the pungent aroma of a men's locker room.
Counting Amy Poehler among its producers and featuring cameos by the likes of Fred Armisen and Janeane Garofalo, "Broad City" surrounds its relatively unknown Upright Citizens Brigade alums with some veteran players but derives most of its charm from its struggling heroines and some of the miscreants that populate their world. That includes Ilana's needy sometimes sex partner (Hannibal Buress) and Abbi's unseen roommate's ever-present boyfriend (John Gemberling), who, when he isn't gaming, thinks nothing of eating her clearly labeled food.
Not surprisingly, there are crappy jobs - Abbi works at a health club, where she aspires to be a trainer but has to wear a shirt that says "Cleaner;" Ilana supplements her meager income by pilfering office supplies - and unrequited crushes. In the opener, Abbi cites getting through "Damages" (ah, the joys of binge viewing) as clogging up her schedule.
Mostly, though, the series derives its energy from watching the central duo careen from one absurdity and indignity to the next, while sharing an obvious bond ("I believe in us," they say in near-unison) that feels refreshingly natural.
Adapted from its Web format, "Broad City" is hardly a fully formed exercise just yet, but with a clear comic voice (Jacobson and Glazer are also the writers) it merits the time to find itself - and seems like an appropriate companion to the slackers of "Workaholics," which will return as its lead-in.
Granted, the jury's still out on whether the show and its stars can really adjust and find their place in the Big Apple. But if they can make it there, well, you know how the song goes.