Tonight’s Broad City introduces Ilana’s parents—and meeting them immediately makes clear how Ilana became who she is. Her mother, played by Susie Essman, is essentially a grown up replica of her daughter, crazy hair and all. The only difference is that Ilana’s mother is obsessed with finding bags in Chinatown rather than weed. Her dad, played by Bob Balaban, is far more subdued, but with a hint of wildness; through him, you can see why Ilana and Lincoln get along so well.
Of course, this is far from the first time a comedy has nailed this sort of casting—and I’m not talking about family shows that feature multiple generations onscreen from the get-go. Instead, I mean the shows that focus on adult characters living away from home. These series typically feature big-name guest stars when it comes time for us to meet our heroes’ parents—and some of them end up faring better than others.
So, what are a few of our other favorite moments in parent-casting?
30 Rock: Elaine Stritch as Colleen Donaghy, mother of Jack Donaghy
First appearance: Season 1, Episode 21
How do you honor the innate New York-iness of 30 Rock and Jack? By getting a veritable New York legend to play his mother. Stritch was appropriately regal and even more appropriately tart-tongued in the part, someone who could nod to Jack’s humble beginnings while also being frankly fabulous. Later in its run, 30 Rock featured another genius bit of parent casting: Jan Hooks as Jenna Maroney’s mother, Verna.