Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Comedy Central releases new season of “Broad City”

Coral Ciupak
Viewpoints Editor

Prior to its fourth season premiere on Sept. 13, it had been a year and a half since we’d last seen “Broad City’s” Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler (portrayed by their real-life counterparts Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer). The last episode of season three, aired in April of 2016, ended with the duo being denied entry into Israel because of a misunderstanding involving a tampon and an overeager flight attendant, concluding a season full of Abbi’s exhaustive efforts to avoid confrontation and Ilana’s borderline-appropriative “Yas kween’s.”

As co-creators Jacobson and Glazer have been quick to point out, much has changed since then.

Since its inception, “Broad City” has toed the line between satire/slapstick, the astute/the absurd and the self-aware/self-deprecating. Its star characters Abbi and Ilana are exemplars of the well-intentioned, but not always well-informed, millennial, navigating social situations and personal predicaments in a way that always seems to land them right back where they started. Up through the conclusion of season three, Abbi and Ilana are in no rush to settle down, have no intent of making compromises and have no idea how to tackle the responsibilities of adulthood. It is this kind of hopeless romanticism that makes Abbi and Ilana so endearing and so relatable to audiences who hope for them to succeed, but do not expect them to grow up.

Season four, however, marks a gradual shift away from these expectations. This becomes evident in the season’s opening episode “Sliding Doors,” which recounts Abbi’s and Ilana’s first meeting six years earlier. The episode is laden with Obama-era pop culture and political references that draw attention not only to how Abbi and Ilana have been changed by their friendship, but also to how the world has been changed by the pivotal events taking place since then. A particularly apt example is an enthusiastic (if not naïve) exchange between the pair about “power-couple” Barack and Michelle Obama, and how their leadership has moved the country forward (“And it’s just the beginning! I mean, never backwards, only forwards!”).

Consistent with this change of pace, “Broad City” filmed its fourth season in February this year in stark contrast to the three preceding seasons’ setting in summertime New York. This change was a conscious choice by the show’s creators to mark the shift in political and social climate as well as to signal personal growth in its star characters. Creators and stars Jacobson and Glazer have alluded to a “darker” season in which the characters face a changing world by becoming more open to changing themselves. Having abandoned her dream of becoming a personal trainer to Canadian country superstar Shania Twain, Abbi has taken a slightly more glamorous job as golfer to a hotshot graphic designer, while Ilana has bounced back from her firing from internet startup Deals Deals Deals! (the details of which involve her tweeting a bestiality porn clip from the company account) to landing a competitive waitressing position bossed by guest star RuPaul.

Each change in scenery seems to signal personal growth and compromise in response to the increasingly apparent fact that no matter how comical or exhaustive the fight against it, the world is changing. As endearing as Abbi’s and Ilana’s blissful ignorance has been for the past three seasons, “Broad City’s” following can expect in season four for them to begin to move away from their naiveté and closer to maturity — but not so close that they lose their charm.

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