Broad City, Comedy Central's relentlessly raunchy TV show, was a tough sell, according to its star Abbi Jacobson. FX, the network that originally picked up the script, apparently rejected the show for being "too girly," in Jacobson's words. Jacobson details the show's turbulent journey to air in her new illustrated memoir I Might Regret This.
"It was, as we were told, ‘too girly.’ So, they passed. We were devastated," writes Jacobson. "This thing that was once so far-fetched has actually started to come to fruition, and then was abruptly taken away."
Broad City had a generous gestation period. It started first as a web series, produced entirely by Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. In 2011, FX revealed that Amy Poehler was developing Broad City into a series. In 2013, news broke that the pilot had landed a series order at Comedy Central, not FX. At the time, there wasn't much talk of why the show scooted networks. This happens a lot in development; networks play hot potato with a pilot before it finally lands in the right spot. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW show helmed by Rachel Bloom, was originally developed for Showtime. When Showtime passed, the CW stepped in to save the day.
"Showtime felt it wasn’t right for them," CW president Mark Pedowitz said in a press release regarding the acquiring of the show at the time. It's just not clear exactly what "wasn't right" about Bloom's rollicking musical comedy. But it's not difficult to read between the lines: both shows are female-led and rely on humour about women, something that clearly made network executives nervous.
Luckily, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has had a healthy life at the CW. Broad City is about to finish its six season run at Comedy Central. Both have spawned new genres, almost. Broad City alone has proved that comedies about two women — raunchy women – can succeed. The new movie Never Goin' Back hinged its success almost entirely on that premise.
Speaking to Refinery29, Never Goin' Back director Augustine Frizzell said, "I wrote the first version of the movie before Broad City came out, and when I was rewriting it and saw the show I was like, 'That is what I want!' They were portraying this level of grossness that I had never seen onscreen, so I was influenced by that. I mustered up the confidence, thanks to them and the way that they portrayed women, to write this the way that I did it."
Sorry, what's too girly?