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‘Broad City’: Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson Break Down the Badass Feminist Statement of ‘Witches’

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer sat down with IndieWire to discuss one of the most cathartic, vital episodes of television this year.

Broad City Season 4 Ilana Glazer Abbi Jacobson Episode 2 "Twaining"

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson in “Broad City”

Cara Howe / Comedy Central

“Witches,” the hilarious, empowering, and altogether outstanding sixth episode of “Broad City” Season 4, takes on Donald Trump. The series that’s been bleeping his name all season cites the 45th President of the United States as the root cause of Ilana’s unprecedented sexual frustration and depicts him, in a particularly stirring montage, as a women-hating, fire-breathing, extra-orange monster.

“Witches” burns Trump at the stake, but it does more than that. It’s about aging, maturity, accountability, adulthood, satisfaction, human rights, societal fears, misogyny, the patriarchy, and all of these big ideas forced to the front of our collective consciousness throughout 2017 by… Donald Trump.

“It’s not about Trump at all, but it is,” Ilana Glazer said.

Glazer, along with fellow-co-creator, co-star, and “Witches” director Abbi Jacobson, sat down with IndieWire earlier this summer. At the time, the episode had already been screened twice: Press members got to see it ahead of the Season 4 premiere, and Comedy Central brought it to Comic-Con for the “Broad City” panel. Fans went absolutely wild after the San Diego screening, but all that time between filming, completion, and airing begged the question: Would the episode have the same impact more than four months later?

Then came these tweets.

“We made the entire episode, it’s all edited, and then he has that hateful comment about women, about plastic surgery,” Glazer said. “Now it does really relate because of that fucking tweet. That hadn’t happened then, but you can count on the hatefulness and the hatred of this administration to continue to relate to what we’ve already shot.”

That Trump never deleted the controversial tweets between then and now says enough, but more tweets keep coming. Women are still fighting back against a hostile American culture. So when “Witches” debuted across the country on Wednesday night, Glazer was right: Viewers could very much relate to what it had to say.

For those who missed it, “Witches” tells two stories. In one, Ilana suffers from what’s later described as “Trump-related pussy constipation.” In other words, she hasn’t had an orgasm since the election, and for a self-described “cum queen,” that’s not just a problem: It’s a crisis.

Broad City Season 4 Marcella Lowery, Ilana Glazer Episode 6 "Witches"

So Ilana goes to see Bette (Marcella Lowery), “the only small business owner that that human skin tag has ever helped”: a sex therapist. With her help, she realizes the source of her frustration via a fiery montage of Trump-themed triggers.

“My brother was like, ‘Have you seen Vic Berger?'” Glazer said. “This is in December, when everybody’s still coping, and I was so grateful [to find him] because the comedy of this guy’s videos made me feel like I could handle this mentally [and] emotionally.”

Berger’s video focuses on various recognizable imagery, including Trump’s face at the debate podium and an electoral map shaded heavily in red, but there’s also ominous music, close-ups of his tiny hands, and a shot of him making fun of a disabled reporter where his mouth grows so big it swallows the entire screen.

“He takes it to this heightened state,” Jacobson said. “It zooms into his mouth. There’s fire. He takes it to extremes. […] And all the Trump stuff, that’s one thing, but the women? I’m getting chills,” Jacobson said.

Broad City Season 4 Abbi Jacobson Episode 6 "Witches"

When Ilana breaks through later on, it’s not from burning down Trump. She reclaims her cum queen crown via a second montage filled with iconic female leaders, including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Beyonce, Sally Ride, Mindy Kaling, Elizabeth Warren, Bette Midler, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Amy Poehler, Rihanna, and so many more.

“Comedy Central lets us do shit like this, and they love it,” Jacobson said.

“I can’t believe how feminist Comedy Central is,” Glaser said.

“It’s just literally photos of amazing women for 15 seconds,” Jacobson said.

“I have such chills,” Glazer added.

“We’re getting a lot of traction for bleeping Trump’s name,” said Jacobson. “It’s the question everyone’s asking, and I’m like, totally, it is important, but the montage of women for 15 seconds is just as political as bleeping Trump’s name.”

Equally connected is the episode’s second plot, following a newly-unemployed Abbi as she tries to make enough money selling handmade holiday cards to pay for a much-needed space heater. But the story isn’t about making money — after all, Margo (played by guest star Jane Curtin) is right: “Money is a mind control technique that quantifies the progress of the patriarchy.” The story is about Abbi accepting her identity as a witch, and it’s in the reclaiming of that word that “Broad City” finds even more timely relevance.

After discovering a gray hair earlier that day, Abbi starts to worry about her age, financial struggles, and her single status. Ilana tries to encourage her by calling her a witch and telling her to rejoice — “You’re becoming a witch: a dope and powerful fucking witch!” — but Abbi says witches aren’t real, and won’t believe in her own magic.

For the rest of the day, she’s faced with demoralizing encounters: She meets Margo, who appears to be an older, witchier version of Abbi; then Elizabeth (Greta Lee), a rich, smooth-skinned dermatologist who looks like she’s 20 but claims to be 51; and finally she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy (Stephen Schneider), who now has a new girlfriend and a kid.

Broad City Season 4 Jane Curtain Episode 6 "Witches"

All this makes Abbi feel old, and she chooses to spend her hard-earned money on Botox instead of warmth.

“We did not want to be judgmental about Abbi’s storyline or what people choose to do with their bodies,” Glazer said. “These days, you need to be so thoughtful about your opinions.”

“If we didn’t, the fourth act is also our opinion, which is like, ‘No judgment. Maybe at a certain age, I’ll change my mind,” Jacobson said.

“My story is not about Trump […] but it is because the administration is so misogynistic,” she said. “It’s so anti-women, it is about [this].”

At episode’s end, Abbi and Ilana visit a coven of witches in Central Park, including Margo, Bette, and Elizabeth. “Ilana, maybe we really are witches,” Abbi says. “Of course we are. We’re gigantic, humongous witches!” Ilana replies. Dancing and singing by a fire, the women celebrate their sisterhood — and the reclamation of “witches.”

“We’re so lucky in so many ways,” Glazer said. “We don’t have to be broad [enough] to reach a certain amount people. We are really making the show that we wanna make. It’s like you’re baring your soul.”

“[This] is at the height of our intelligence,” Jacobson said. “It’s not dumbed down [for anyone]. So it’s such an honor to share it with our fucking cool audience.”

“I once said a long time ago, I feel so lucky to have ‘Broad City’ to guide me through my 20s,” Glazer said. “Now, I’m so grateful I have ‘Broad City’ to guide me through this administration. That’s one thing. I’m so glad I have Abbi, but this show, it’s a different thing. It’s a vehicle for us to cope with everything, too.”

If “Broad City” was a vehicle, it would have to be a broomstick — because “Witches” proved it can fly.

“Broad City” airs new episodes every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.

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