Part of what makes Comedy Central’s Broad City such a pleasure to watch is the extent to which Ilana’s and Abbi’s characters are developed. It wouldn’t take more than a few episodes to glean that Ilana is the outspoken, slovenly, crude one — while Abbi is a well-intentioned, anxious magnet for bad luck. But Broad City stays funny by revealing new intricacies with each episode. At the same time, these characters are totally relatable and off-putting parodies of themselves. Broad City accentuates Ilana’s and Abbi’s idiosyncrasies so that we feel included in their special friendship, while the rest of New York moves too quickly to notice their brilliant chemistry. Broad City makes a strong case for the “you had to be there” friendship — the relationship you can’t easily explain to someone who’s not a witness. Wednesday night’s episode “2016,” however, contained a glaring inconsistency in Ilana’s character: her unwavering support for Hillary Clinton doesn’t make sense.
Wednesday night’s “2016” finds Abbi and Ilana on separate missions: Abbi must renew her license at the DMV and Ilana searches for a new calling after she was fired from a startup. Abbi’s beleaguered experience at the DMV is relatable and congruent with her character’s frequent run-ins with misfortune. But the job that Ilana eventually finds is an bizare deviation for her character. Fate leads her to volunteer at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters, although Ilana would definitely be a Bernie person.
Ilana’s outspoken, political character often parodies white privilege : incensed about everything and playing PC to appear righteous. As we’ve seen in previous episodes, Ilana can turn harmless conversations with Abbi into polemics on controversial issues — even if the discussion wasn’t naturally headed in that direction. Ilana is the Bushwick hipster who laments on constricting binaries, rigid gender roles, women’s rights, and other progressive topics — without taking any any real action. She does deeply care about these issues, but unwittingly betrays her own views. When she makes her own “showtime” on the subway in “2016” she tells her audience to help her, because she’s an NYU grad who’s been fired from an startup. While Bernie Sanders has his fair share of informed supporters, he also covers the voting constituency that Ilana Wexler would realistically join: the young fluctuating progressives.
Maybe this episode of Broad City was filmed before it seemed at all likely that Bernie Sanders could garner national support. But Ilana’s vehement advocacy for Hillary in “2016” is simply incorrect. If Ilana Wexler were real, you know she would be your friend who goes on and on about feeling the Bern. She’s the friend who floods your Facebook and Twitter with inflamed Bernie rhetoric, urging people to consider Bernie’s down-to-earth, deeply progressive policies over Hillary’s, which tread closer to the middle. I could see Abbi as a potential Hillary supporter since she’s less outspoken about injustice, but Ilana’s enthusiastic support of Hillary is a wrong stitch in the fabric of her progressive spirit.