'Broad City': In Praise of the Bad-Girls Club

The ladies of 'Broad City' are TV's funniest slackers – and in Season Two, they have even more stoner-slob swagger

We all needed Abbi and Ilana back in our lives: Rob Sheffield on the glorious return of 'Broad City.' Credit: Lane Savage

A hot summer day in New York. Two sweaty Jewesses strut down the street. One of them loves all the schvitzing, because it heightens her ethnic ambiguity. ("I was catcalled today in what I believe is Creole!") But they decide to step into a store for some free air conditioning. Before you know it, they're in their underwear, talking shit in the dressing room. When Abbi worries about an upcoming date, Ilana offers some advice: "You should check out the Colin Farrell sex tape, just to get back in the swing of things. Specifically 8:58." That's when things start to go horribly wrong. Oh, so wrong. Just another day on Broad City.

The world couldn't take the wait for the second season of Broad City. But thank the gods of stoner-slob comedy that these ladies are back to offend, to bang dentists, to show up for Grandma Esther's shiva in hot-pink lipstick, a black-lace party dress and a leopard-skin pillbox hat. They're two BFFs living the nondream and offering free life coaching to the rest of us. We all needed Abbi and Ilana back in our lives. Praise the Lord and pass the titty chips.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer created Broad City as a Web series from 2009 to 2011, after studying improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Amy Poehler brought them to Comedy Central, where Broad City became an instant sensation last year. Here at last were morally reprehensible slack-ass heroes to believe in. Abbi works her dead-end job cleaning toilets at the Soulstice gym, dreaming of being an artist someday, while Ilana shows up "violently high" to her office gig and dreams of nothing beyond her next bong hit.

The world might look at Abbi and Ilana and see a couple of losers. But they only have eyes for each other, and what they see is twin goddesses. These broads are so in sync, they barely even notice the rest of the world. They're acting out the Nineties hip-hop video in their heads, in every detail of their lives – dancing around the apartment naked, hassling cops, ogling basketball players. It's all there in the moment Ilana asks at a party if anyone's seen her friend: "Chocolate-brown eyes, ass of an angel?"

Has the success of failure gone to their heads? Yes, fortunately – the broads have even more swagger this season, as if they realize they can keep getting away with this shit. They have even less desire to tone it down. Hannibal Buress remains sublimely chill as Ilana's not-quite-boyfriend, never fazed by her utter lack of an attention span. They get help from a few well-chosen guests, including Seth Rogen as a love interest. The episode with Susie Essman as Ilana's mom is as magnificent as you think it might be – if anyone on Earth can hold her own bantering about anal sex and Beyoncé with these broads, it's Essman.

At one point, Ilana gives Abbi a pep talk about working with a gross dude: "Rub some Purell in your mustache so you don't smell him." In many ways, that sums up the Broad City philosophy of life. It's not that they ignore the humiliations in their lives, it's that they protect each other. The broads can't believe how lucky they are, as long as they're together. They do not aspire to get more out of life. They do not yearn for boyfriends. They do not mean well. They do not work hard. All they want is to walk into every room telling each other, "Damn, we're so hot right now." And they're right.

The failure of life to imitate Broad City is something most of us have to accept at some point. But not Abbi and Ilana – it's never even occurred to them that life isn't supposed to be this. That's what makes hanging out with them such a joy.