Season 4 of “Broad City” sticks to its classic style — raunchy, Jewy, and providing too much information — while upping the creativity to next-level. It’s full of the chaos, humor, and chutzpah that the show is known for, and it offers a look behind the scenes after each episode.
, which wrapped on December 6 of this year, to see Jewish comedy alumni Sandra Bernhard and Fran Drescher drop in to shout raspily (no surprise) and smoke weed (more of a surprise), plus non-Jewish gender-bending, ball-busting comedy kweens RuPaul Charles, Wanda Sykes, and Jane Curtin.
In episodes and short comic videos from previous seasons, Ilana and Abbi have tackled topics close to the hearts of many Jews. Their 2015 short about fasting on Yom Kippur struck a chord, as did the Season 3 finale, “Jews on a Plane,” in which the two fail to reach the Promised Land.
Back in New York City, Abbi and Ilana continue to address Jewy issues: the debate over whether to straighten your hair, what it means to “look Jewish,” how to manage seasonal affective disorder, the cleaning out of bubbe’s Florida apartment after her passing, and disappointing your mother.
The show — created, written by, and starring Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, and produced by Amy Poehler — began as a web series on YouTube in 2009, and has addressed many issues faced by today’s twentysomethings.
Both women are fearless in their femaleness (whatever that means) and in their Jewishness (whatever that means), and they don’t shy away from either potty humor or taking a political stance, often in the same breath. (Case in point — in Season 4, they bleep out the current American president’s name as though it were a cuss word.)
It’s irreverent, it’s progressive, and it’s really, really funny. Which could be another way of saying: it’s Jewy. There are few, if any, episodes that don’t touch on this particular nugget of identity. In the very first episode of the TV series, Ilana, trying to raise funds to attend a Lil Wayne concert, posts on Craigslist, “We’re Just 2 Jewesses Tryin’ to Make A Buck.” Suffice it to say that this leads to a cameo of Fred Armisen in a diaper.
Judging by the 14 percent jump in viewership as compared to Season 3’s premiere, “Broad City” fans were ready, after the almost year-and-a-half-long hiatus, for the Season 4 debut on September 13 of this year.
That episode reveals the friends’ long-ago meet-cute story, in the vein of 1998’s “Sliding Doors” (which starred a pre-Goop Gwyneth Paltrow).
Ilana is a student at NYU, living with a group of headband-wearing shiksas she refers to collectively as “Madison.” And, jarringly, she sports straight hair. In all other episodes, her glorious Jew-fro is both essential to her charm and its own character, her Jewess pride manifest.
But the Madisons can’t abide the curls — and they tell her so, with the usual racist phrasing. (Viewers can be offended by that, but they’ll probably have more sympathy for the Madisons’ objection to Ilana’s giant porn collage.)
Curly-haired Jewesses everywhere will relate to Ilana’s struggle: go natural and risk rejection by the silky-haired masses, or spend precious hours frying your hair in pursuit of gentile acceptance.
This small drama brings up the larger issue of what it means to “look Jewish.” And while Ilana is attempting to blend in, poor straight-haired Abbi has to convince her potential new friend that she is, in fact, one of the Chosen.
The show has been well received, and not just in the Jewish community; The Guardian and Time, among other mainstream media, have consistently given it rave reviews. Though comparisons abound — the kind of reductive comparisons that tend to haunt women across all spheres and are hardly worth mentioning — “Broad City” is its own class of meshuggah.
Comedy Central has already renewed the show for a fifth season but has yet to announce a premiere date. The unusually long gap between the third and fourth seasons has been attributed, at least in part, to the rewriting required after the surprising results of the American election.
There’s no way to predict what sort of mayhem might impact the process going forward, but the timing may simply come down to Abbi and Ilana’s busy schedules; both women have multiple projects in the works.
Whether it’s the fall of 2018 or the winter of 2019 (or beyond), the next round of “Broad City’s” groundbreaking, bra-burning comedy will be well worth the wait.