Broad City’s “Al Dente Dentist”

When discussing Transmedia Storytelling, the Comedy Central television series Broad City is an interesting example to consider because of it’s transition from a series of YouTube webisodes to a television show, rather than the other way around, which is more typically seen. Thus, the creators of the show were not new to Jenkins notion of dispersing elements of fiction across multiple channels when they created the Tumblr blog titled, “The Al Dente Dentist” (1). This blog stems from a plot line in the primary text, in which Hannibel Burress’s character Lincoln, a dentist, announces that he runs a blog called the Al Dente Dentist, where he cooks pasta once a week and posts about it. Here we see a “migratory cue” – a signal to another medium that is related to the primary text. Shortly after this episode aired, the blog was created and advertised by the show’s main Tumblr account. It features weekly posts written by the fictional character Lincoln in which he links the reader to different pasta recipes, cooks them, and rates them afterwards through his own meatball rating system. Occasionally, he throws in a short dentistry-related anecdote or word of advice. He also frequently posts about plot lines in the upcoming episodes of the series on Comedy Central.

This blog is a prime example of a transmedia project that replicates the same story world across different channels, thus creating what Jenkins calls “additive comprehension”(1). The blog offers an insight into the life of Lincoln that viewers wouldn’t otherwise get, and it also forces viewers to reconsider his function in the show. Before the episode aired and the blog was created, it was unclear whether or not Lincoln would maintain his relationship with the main character Ilana and remain on the show. With this added transmedia element, viewers were told that his relationship with Ilana was becoming more serious, and that he would become a more prominent character on the show.

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Lincoln makes a joke about his profession as a dentist.

A post that was featured on  the blog just before the airing of an episode centraler around a dog wedding.

A post that was featured on the blog just before the airing of an episode centered around a dog wedding.

Jenkins explains that successful transmedia projects are those that can “make sense to first time viewers” but also “enhance the experience of people reading across multiple media” (1). This certainly holds true for the Al Dente Dentist blog which functions as a real cooking blog for those who aren’t aware of it’s ties to the show, while also enhancing the storyline of the primary text for those who watch Broad City.

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A recipe featured on Al Dente Dentist.

Works Cited:

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Web log post. Confessions of an Aca-Fan. N.p., 22 Mar. 2007. Web.  18 Feb. 2015.

Murray, Janet Horowitz. “Harbingers of the Holodeck.” Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free, 1997. 27-64. Print.


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