4 and 3 and 2 and 1 and ... time to get "Broad City" some Emmys. The Huffington Post put the show on our nomination wish list last week, right around the same time we caught up with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, who are at work on the new season. They're a tad hesitant about the whole Emmy-campaigning thing, but after consecutive Critics' Choice Television Award nods for Best Comedy Series, perhaps their efforts will pay off. Regardless, we wanted to revisit some of Season 2's highlights and get Glazer and Jacobson's TV recommendations. Along the way, we discussed FOMO, pegging and dancing to Lady Gaga.
It must be kind of odd to do interviews under the pretense of campaigning for Emmys.
Jacobson: You know, I actually forgot. I was just like, “Oh, we’re going to do interviews.” Now we’re in our heads.
I have a feeling you guys didn't spend much time pondering awards last year. Do you look at the shows you're up against and say, "F--k Julia Louis-Dreyfus, give us our Emmys"?
Glazer: We’re not just saying this, but we love those shows more. We know what goes into making them and making an audience feel that there’s a world for them. It’s even more of an honor.
Jacobson: I think anything that we would say involving “f--k” and “Julia Louis-Dreyfus” would go in a very different way.
Where are you guys on Season 3 right now?
Glazer: We consider the show a three-act production: writing, shooting and editing, and we are near the end of the writing. It’s so trippy. It's just trippy. You were asking about doing these interviews for the Emmy campaign, but the whole thing is a trip. I think the first season it was like, "Oh my God, a TV show." And now it's it like, "Okay, it’s a show." The fact that we're writing for a show that's already established is a trippy thing.
The first season was about setting a tone, while Season 2 clearly evolved. Do you have a different approach now that you're able to massage the form and the plots you pursue?
Jacobson: Yeah, all those things for sure. It’s weird because this is the first instance where we’ve had a chance to process it. We literally didn’t have any time between the first and second season. While we were writing the second season, the first season was still airing, so we kind of didn’t even get a feel for the reaction. And this time we have two seasons of it being on the air, and we’ve gotten time to look at the reaction and a little bit of a chance to process it. We’re trying to maintain the same things that we were focusing on with the first two. I think our show is very organic in the characters’ relationships with each other, and that was sort of the core of it. And with the second season we got to play with form, and in the third there will be even more of that. And also we get to play more with these character relationships that we’ve established over the two seasons, whereas before it was much more about establishing it for the audience and reminding everyone who everyone was, and now I think we’re more confident to play with those a little bit.
How far do you let yourselves go with the New York-specific jokes? I'm thinking of the "it's a whole new Gowanus" line during the Whole Foods hallucination.
Glazer: Even with the Gowanus lines, it would still be the universal idea of neighborhoods turning over and being gentrified. We try to be as specific as possible because I think our motto is "the more specific, the more universal."
Jacobson: I think anyone who knows what Whole Foods is and has had a Whole Foods come into their town can relate to what that means, so “It’s a whole new Gowanus” is just, “Wow, the neighborhood has really changed.” I think there are a couple of jokes surrounding that so that anyone who might not know what Gowanus is can get it. So we’d rather get New York specific and then let people sub in “It’s a whole new Tulsa.” There’s a huge crowd in Tulsa that loves the show.
Tell me about a night that you've spent racing from one party to the next, continually dissatisfied because there might be something better elsewhere.
Jacobson: I don’t think we’ve ever spent a night exactly quite like that, but it stemmed from this feeling of that fear of missing out on something better -- so wherever you are, just being like, “This is not good enough.” And not that we always have that feeling wherever we are, but when we were coming up with that, we all felt that, like, “Oh, some friends are going here but you end up going there, and ugh, I should have done that.” It’s sort of like instant regret even though you’re still in the moment, like you still could do it. And quote-unquote FOMO was a really big abbreviation, right? Yeah. Like YOLO.
Glazer: Is it an abbreviation? Or an acronym?
Jacobson: Oh, acronym. Right. Fear of missing out.
Glazer: It’s funny, a lot of stuff we’ll write first and then it will enter our lives after having written the script. And now I’m like, “Oh God, I’m having such FOMO.”
We don't often see shows that depict everyday friendships and actually have something fresh to say, so "Broad City" is sort of like an anti-FOMO for those who love it. That's why Abbi singing Lady Gaga became a small sensation online. How did you land on "Edge of Glory" for that moment?
Jacobson: Basically the scene was about Bevers just finally [being] out of the apartment, so we really wanted to show the big moment, like, what would Abbi do? It’s like a gasp -- “Oh my God, I finally have the apartment to myself,” which is something we can all relate to if you live with roommates in New York. Originally it was written that I was just cooking naked and going through my DVR naked. And then very close to shooting we decided that it should be a little bit bigger of a moment. It needed to be something more exciting than just DVRing crap and watching it.
Glazer: In writing, it’s so much stronger to make one bold choice. We had this montage with a few funny jokes, but it’s so much stronger to go with one bold choice.
Jacobson: We went around a lot of different songs and then came to this “Edge of Glory” song, and I think it’s because that’s one of my big pump-up songs in real life. When it first came out, I remember listening to it in the very inspiring moment when I was in LA and I’d just done this live show and I was like, “Yeah!,” you know? I don’t know if it’s a guilty-pleasure song, but it’s definitely a huge ballad pop song. And then it just felt really, really right.
What other songs did you consider?
Jacobson: I think we messed around with Des'ree -- [starts singing] "You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser." I kept pitching “Life Is a Highway.”
Glazer: I was like, “I don’t know, dude.”
There was an even bigger reaction to the pegging episode. That became a huge Internet moment for a variety of reasons. What does that storyline mean to you guys?
Jacobson: Really, it came from us talking about the whole Jeremy thing, about pining for somebody and finally ending up with them. The pegging thing, I’m not even exactly sure where it came from.
Glazer: Yeah, it wasn’t, like, a subject we wanted to tackle. When we talked about the pegging, it was like, "That’s not the joke." It still wasn’t the joke in the scene.
Jacobson: It also allowed us to have this really great thing of “this is totally outside of Abbi’s comfort level on the show.” That would be such a different thing for her to be faced with for the first time with the guy that she’s so in love with. It allowed a friendship moment at the same time because of course she would call Ilana, and of course Ilana would be so into it and so jealous of Abbi’s situation. But all along we talked about when you call someone asking their advice for something like that, you know what you want to hear. That's the line of dialogue like, “You know. You wouldn’t have called me if you didn’t.”
Glazer: Yeah, that was the most gently written thing to us, that moment between the girls. And that Jeremy/Abbi fight later is not about pegging; it’s more about attention to detail and a more nuanced look at how we treat our things. We all value things more than we probably should, but everyone’s values are different and it’s about how you judge somebody for how they do it differently than you. It’s cool, the pegging is what rose to the top for people to talk about. It’s the lowest common denominator that it’s the pegging episode, but there are a lot of layers for us.
There's no need to introduce love stories, but is true romance something the show would explore? Abbi and Ilana are in their 20s, when that sort of thing is blooming for a lot of people. But obviously we don't want anything to take away from their relationship.
Glazer: I feel like the biggest romance in the shows is between the girls. It’s a friend romance, and that’s more complicated and yet less complicated than typical sexual romances -- I don’t know how to distinguish it when you say “romance.” But that’s No. 1. The second romance is with the city. There’s a lot of love already going around. There just isn’t a lot of art that doesn’t focus on conventional love stories. And there’s a reason that so much TV and film and stories and poems and songs and all that shit are written about that kind of love, but it just feels refreshing to us. We may tackle that kind of subject in the future, but it’s just already given us so much material and has been so inspiring to not have that. Just in the same way that the show is a low-budget show, and that inspires us not to make the show about guys, guys, guys, guys -- guys that we, like, hook up with or “I’m in love with him.” For us, it’s more interesting to write.
What are you guys watching on TV? Any of the shows you might be up against at the Emmys?
Jacobson: Right now I’m really into "Game of Thrones," obviously. Love "Veep." "Veep" is like crème-de-la-crème television. I also really like "Bloodline." This is a weird moment because a lot of shows have just ended. I think those are my three right now that I’m into.
Glazer: I don’t watch a lot of TV. "Veep" is the only TV I watch.