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Cover of book: I Might Regret This

Abbi Jacobson
I Might Regret This

When Broad City’s stoner sex-positive comedy erupted onto screens in 2014, it felt truly novel and vital. Here was a romantic sitcom about best girlfriends, played by real-life ride or dies Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, who were liberated from the rifts and rivalries that plagued Lena Dunham’s Girls. These women relished one another’s company with a ribald and untamed spirit that’s rare for the format. “The show has ignited a wild hold of expression in me,” writes Jacobson in I Might Regret This, “and I will chase that energy the rest of my life.”

Four years and four seasons later, the cultural moment has changed markedly. Girls concluded in 2017 and Jill Soloway’s similarly groundbreaking Transparent is on hiatus since its star became embroiled in #MeToo allegations. Broad City’s recent season had memorable moments – think Ilana’s inability to orgasm since Trump got elected – but its shameless celebrity cameos (including Hillary Clinton and RuPaul) felt like last-gasp tricksiness.

Like Dunham and Soloway, Jacobson has churned out an essay collection, and it too lacks the electricity of her TV show. I Might Regret This doesn’t share the literary aspirations of Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. It’s more akin to comedy memoirs such as Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo or Tina Fey’s Bossypants, whose beguilingly familiar voices give nothing much away.

Bearing her first broken heart, from her first romantic relationship with another woman, Jacobson embarks on a road trip from New York to Los Angeles. Three weeks of introspection are a challenge for the self-confessed workaholic. The journey loosely structures this meandering collection, which detours through musings on snail mail, snacking and being a young woman in comedy. Entertaining enough, but we’ve read it before.

There are sparks when the neurotic voice of her TV character emerges, imagining ridiculously detailed scenarios in which she could bump into her ex (“What if I decide to get Lasik eye surgery and I’m on my way home and I see her?”), or the monologue-like “sleep studies” charting an insomniac mind. But teenage transgressions and childhood regrets appear to be confessed to evade deeper vulnerabilities or intimacies. Wisdoms about self-acceptance seem too easy, wrapping up life experiences as neatly as This American Life episodes. “Nothing is for sure,” she writes, “but it’s all worth it.”  TM

Virago, 336pp, $32.99

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 24, 2018 as "Abbi Jacobson, I Might Regret This".

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Reviewer: TM

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