KYD Advent Calendar

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Television

Funny Broads

by Stephanie Van Schilt , March 27, 20141 Comment

lead_large

 

‘All comparisons between Girls and Broad City should be hereto forth banned from the internet.’ I agree with Katherine Brooks. Yet the comparisons continue, ad nauseam, mostly following one of two lines of thought. Either Broad City is just ‘Comedy Central’s version of Girls’ – because they’re both humorous depictions of young white women in NYC. Or Broad City is pitted against Girls to determine which of the two is better/funnier/more relevant/wears 90s crop tops better.

It’s not the research methodology that irks me about these contrast/compare/compete dynamics. In her considered retort to Christopher Hitchens’ bombastic sexism, Alessandra Stanley notes that women in comedy are made to compete or subvert the form in an effort to make themselves likeable or appealing. Investigating the intrinsic ties between image, female comedians and gender politics, Stanley brings attention to the tacitly accepted gap generated by traditional patriarchal social structures. Intentionally or otherwise, this is the framework within which the either/or discussions of Broad City and Girls operate.

You all know about Girls by now, the HBO show lead by ‘generational voice’ Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath. Broad City stars creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson as Ilana and Abbi. Developed for television from a web series, with the help of executive producer Amy Poehler, it premiered earlier this year. Like countless other shows, they may share a common interest in the lives of twentysomething New Yorkers, but Girls and Broad City are primarily being lumped together because they feature – and are created by – funny women who present their abject physicality and sexuality without fear and with purpose.

To compare them in such a limited dichotomous sense reinforces assumptions about women in comedy, particularly as agents in control of their own lives and bodies. These shows may be united in their interest in gender and sex politics, and their focus on female friendships and on similar (not the same) demographics – but they do not depict a singular universal experience. They undermine standard gender roles in idiosyncratic ways because, contrary to popular belief, women are capable of doing this.

It’s vitally important to acknowledge that Broad City and Girls can coexist without being cannibalising forces. Broad City is not the ‘anti-Girls’. While sharing superficial similarities, they are diverse and distinct cultural products from different television and comedy lineages and deserve to be acknowledged for their multifaceted aims and voices. Essentially, Girls is a dramedy, while Broad City is borne of the stand up and sketch comedy traditions.

It’s hard to imagine this would be a point of conjecture if these two shows were ensemble casts with male leads. Flight of the Conchords and Bored to Death shared a network, NYC setting and a dash of whimsy, but weren’t considered mutually exclusive. You don’t hear Curb Your Enthusiasm versus Entourage polls continually taking place, though they share showbiz DNA. There’s an unspoken awareness that these male driven comedies are distinct, just as there’s unspoken gender inequity in the form. After all, we have kings of gross-out or crude humour, of physical and sexual comedy but, as Stanley acknowledges, ‘[t]here are still limits to how high a female comedian can climb—the crass ceiling’.

At times, Girls mildly rises to the ‘crass ceiling’, which always leads to some kind of inflated exposure or undue controversy. Meanwhile, Broad City smashes through the ‘crass ceiling’, taking its lead from the multitude of likeminded, filthy female performers who have long existed on the cultural fringes.

Glazer and Jacobson groomed their comedic chops as part of the renowned improv and stand up group Upstanding Citizens Brigade; it’s shameful that they, and other female comedians, are still treated as second-class citizens in pop culture commentary. Many female performers have paved this trashy, abject path long before Bridesmaids hit the box office, including the likes of Roseanne Barr, Amy Sedaris (particularly in the underrated Strangers With Candy) or even Janeane Garofalo, each of whom are either mentioned or featured in a guest role in Broad City’s first season. Emphasising the show’s tenuous affiliation with Girls undermines these women’s history and the greater tradition of female performers.

Women in comedy must be acknowledged as more than an amorphous, universal culture-producing blob, or as limited antagonistic forces. Women are capable of shared and diverse voices, comedic or otherwise. There’s no neat, two-pronged scale upon which all females must compete or stand in perfectly packaged solidarity. Broad City’s filthy attitude is awesome and hilarious as its female characters fuck, fight, snort and eat bagels from the dumpster without apologising. Nor should they have to.

Stephanie Van Schilt is Deputy Editor at The Lifted Brow and a freelance writer. She tweets @steph_adele.

ACO logo




9508984918_5d8a187fc1_z

Marika Sosnowski

Living Side by Side: Multiculturalism at Home and Abroad

It all seems quite idyllic – people of varying nationalities, religions and cultures coexisting peacefully. It could be a blueprint for the perfect multicultural society. However, there’s something beneath the surface that is troubling to the western notion of modern liberalism. Read more »

9864007066_4a196b364d_z

Tim Robertson

Fear, loathing, and the erosion of civil liberties

The hysteria currently being concocted by Australia’s political leaders is a smokescreen for the more serious threat facing everyone – an attack of the very freedoms and values our nation has been built on. Read more »

308982705_be9f94455b_b

Marika Sosnowski

Back inside: Life on the Syrian-Turkish border

In Turkey, less than 50 kilometres from the border, Syrians have chosen their favourite cafes, have opened Aleppine sweet shops and set up stores in the old city. Read more »

isabelle_cover_grande

Dark Places and Safe Spaces: S.A. Jones’ Isabelle of the Moon and Stars

S.A. Jones’ Isabelle of the Moon and Stars is a powerful and affecting depiction of a young woman struggling with mental illness and emotional turmoil. A book like Isabelle might well be described as the underdog of Australian publishing: a character-focused literary novel published by a small press … Read more »

w527705

Carody Culver

Taking Christmas off the shelf

Ah, Christmas – for some, a time of gift-giving, awkward family gatherings and over-zealous consumption of rum balls; for booksellers, a time to weep silent tears of stress and experience the irrational but persistent fear of being buried alive beneath boxes of the latest Stephen Fry memoir. Read more »

22432611

S.A. Jones

The modern epistolary novel: Annabel Smith’s The Ark

Annabel Smith has given the epistolary novel a twenty-first century reboot in her recently-released dystopian novel The Ark. Told through emails, blogs, procedural reports, speech transcripts and the occasional newspaper clipping, this impressive technical feat of storytelling is a clever and appropriate twinning of form and function. Read more »

mariah-carey-all-i-want-for-christmas

Julia Tulloh

A SuperFestive Christmas playlist

I know what you’re thinking: lists like this became redundant in 1992, when Jon Bon Jovi rubbed shoulders with Cindy Crawford beneath a Christmas tree for the first and last time. Does the ideal of Christmas music get any better? Perhaps not, but many have tried. Here are a few other Christmassy pop goodies. Read more »

Kim_cover_web_

Julia Tulloh

Kim Kardashian, butts, and the internet

We’re used to seeing her butt, and we’re also used to Kim doing crazy publicity stunts. Her entire life is a publicity stunt in itself, both the means and end of a crazy, money-making, power-acquiring trajectory. Her very fame is built on the playful and shameless self-exposure captured in the Paper shoot. Read more »

theartofasking_image

Julia Tulloh

Living on fans: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Rather than enticing people to pay for music through marketing campaigns and radio play, Amanda Palmer is interested in connecting with her fans, becoming friends with them, and creating a system of exchange within the community that is formed. This means that art is not often payed for with money. Read more »

Exodus-Gods-and-Kings-Poster-Bale-and-Edgerton-691x1024

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Problems with God: Exodus: Gods & Kings

This is the thing about retellings of old and beloved foundation stories: it’s impossible to come to them fresh, without trying to compare and contrast with previous versions for veracity and style. It’s usually the modern incarnation that comes up short. Read more »

Screen-Shot-2014-10-01-at-11.22.21-AM

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Can too many parts destroy an adaptation? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

It’s a relief to feel the weight of fidelity lift off an adaptation film, as Mockingjay: Part 1 becomes a meta-exploration of fame, franchise and future. Read more »

Maps to the Stars

Rochelle Siemieonwicz

Monsters in Los Angeles: Maps to the Stars and Nightcrawler

Both Maps to the Stars and Nightcrawler are peopled by monsters who may look human, but are actually spiritually deformed and morally repugnant creatures of the most loathsome kind. The suggestion implicit in each of these thrillingly creepy stories is that these ‘freaks’ are born out of and adapted to the hellish spiritual landscape of LA. Read more »

3991099211_8397c745fe_b

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Taking up space: The legitimisation of creepshotting

There is a relationship between catcalling and creepshotting. Both are practices that involve the reduction of strangers to objects to be gawked at and commented on, which is what makes the ‘Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train’ Tumblr blog interesting and complex. Read more »

IMG_0086

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Pictures of pictures: Monument Valley and the rise of the in-game photographer

Presenting screencapturing a game as a form of camera-free ‘photography’ gives rise to a conceptual issue. If the ‘photographer’ is moving through, and capturing, a world created entirely by others, then who exactly should take the credit for any images created? Read more »

IMG_4309

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Patrons and gamemakers in the shadow of Gamergate

There is a lot to unpack about Gamergate, and a great deal more that isn’t at all worth taking seriously, but what the patronage pseudo-controversy has drawn attention to is the fact that there are potentially huge issues with moving to a model of monetary transactions in which our payments are increasingly networked and ‘social’. Read more »

2447663467_2d543e6c87_o

Danielle Binks

Young Adult literature: genre is not readership

YA is not a genre – it is a readership. It may seem like pedantic nitpicking to focus on this distinction, but so pervasive is the mistake, amongst even established literary channels, that explaining the difference has become increasingly important and indeed necessary. Read more »

00page

Danielle Binks

Disability or superpower? Deaf identity in YA

‘We actually need more stories about deaf and hard of hearing characters and for their experiences to be shared in stories. Often, young readers believe they are ‘alone’ in their deafness and do not realise that there are many others like them.’ Read more »

Anne of Green Gables

Danielle Binks

Books that take you there: YA literary tourism

How has literary tourism taken on new dimensions and greater capitalism, thanks to youth literature – both old and new, book and film? Read more »

mariah-carey-all-i-want-for-christmas

Julia Tulloh

A SuperFestive Christmas playlist

I know what you’re thinking: lists like this became redundant in 1992, when Jon Bon Jovi rubbed shoulders with Cindy Crawford beneath a Christmas tree for the first and last time. Does the ideal of Christmas music get any better? Perhaps not, but many have tried. Here are a few other Christmassy pop goodies. Read more »

drake-cover-650

Justin Wolfers

Drake’s climate change epiphany

Or: ‘Heat of the Moment’ as an epiphany in which Drake realises the urgency and importance of acting on climate change Read more »

Swans_To_Be_Kind

Chad Parkhill

Against the Album of the Year

We won’t see an end to end-of-year album and song lists any time soon – it’s hard enough for sites and publications to turn a buck without scorning one of the easiest means of acquiring sales and page views. Read more »

??????????????????????

Stephanie Van Schilt

Lady Bosses on the Box

An increasing number of female-driven comedies, dramas or melodramas are popping up on our screens. Through the filters of fiction, the worlds these heroines inhabit directly reflect our own. This is the age of the lady boss. Read more »

105768385_5672eae965_z

Stephanie Van Schilt

Bananas without pyjamas? Budgets cuts and the next generation of ABC kids

From my humble beginnings watching kids’ programming, I learnt that ‘Your ABC’ was indeed, our ABC. The protests and public outcry which followed this week’s announcement of cuts to the ABC demonstrate its crucial role in fostering a sense of community for Australians. Read more »

Marry Me - Season Pilot

Stephanie Van Schilt

Happy Hangovers and False Starts: Happy Endings and Marry Me

Binging rarely ends well. Binge eating is how unwanted food babies happen. Binge drinking is how inhibitions and memories are erased. Binge-watching a TV show can take over your life. Which is exactly what happened a few years ago when I fell in love with Happy Endings. Read more »