Trump is four-letter word to 'Broad City' team

Rick Bentley
Los Angeles Times (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — It's nothing unusual for a television show — even one that airs on basic cable — to have a word bleeped here or there. The oddity of such censorship when it comes in the fourth season of the Comedy Central series "Broad City" is that the word being treated with the same bleeping as the most foul of phrases is "Trump."

This is happening on a series where almost any topic — from sex to drugs — has been fodder for the funny.

"Broad City" star, producer and creator Ilana Glazer explains: "We just got to a point where in real life we're talking about the current administration. We're talking about Trump, and it sounds so gross, every day saying it so many times. We just didn't want to share airtime. He's got enough. And I also don't even want to hear the word."

Fellow star, producer and creator Abbi Jacobson adds that using the word Trump as a joke in an episode that comes midway through the fourth season was something that came up during the writing process. A major storyline looks at how the election of Donald Trump has put a sexual damper on much of the country. The writers see the jabs at the president as being in line with the different kind of comedy that has been the framework of the cable series — and the web series it's based on — from the start.

"Broad City" follows Jacobson and Glazer as they make their way through life in New York that includes hookups, relationships, horrible jobs and their friendship. When the fourth season opens Sept. 13, the friends will get new jobs, celebrate their "friendiversary," discover their inner witch and make a trip to Florida to escape a New York winter.

The series stars met while they were both working with the Upright Citizens Brigade. That's also their connection to "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Amy Poehler, who is an executive producer on "Broad City." Jacobson has several film credits including being a voice in the upcoming "The Lego Ninjago Movie" while Glazer was in "The Night Before."

Jacobson says it was during their time with the Upright Citizens Brigade that the two realized they had a comedy connection.

"We were the only two women. We started making 'Broad City' just because our friendship was this dynamic of us being pretty different. I think we still have the same differences. Maybe we're a little more similar now because our jobs are exactly the same. But I think the differences within friends are often what draws them together," Jacobson says. "Obviously, there's similarities, but yeah, it's that banter that keeps it going."

And it's the comedy connection that both see as the heart of the show. "Broad City" has earned a following because of the stands they take on topics including a lot that push feminism. But the message is always the second thought for them as the imperative has — and always will be — making sure everything they do is funny.

The pair started writing the fourth season soon after the last of the 10 episodes of the third season had aired in April 2016. That meant they had to add the Trump jokes to the script after all of the writing for the season had been done.

Jacobson says the way they have written the scripts for past seasons was to have the stories unfold in the same months as when they would write them. That has meant spring stories the first three years but the change was made to winter because they had to take a writing break while Glazer was working on the feature film "Rough Night." They didn't get to wrap up the scripts for the fourth season until after the election.

Touching on a political element is not new for this show; Hillary Clinton made an appearance on a third-season episode that was broadcast during the campaign. The story had Ilana getting a job working for Clinton's campaign.

"We talk a lot about pop culture, and obviously Hillary Clinton was on last season, so it is political," Jacobson says. "But this season, it was just a thing of everyone we know, this is a thing that's happening right now. This is happening in at the other Abbi and Ilana's lives.

"This is something that they're going to be talking about all the time. This is existing. For us to not be talking about it as friends in the show is would have been insane and would have felt wrong."

Glazer agrees.

"The clarity of the election happening, it just solidified all these messages that we were just talking before about messaging and how the consciousness of our messaging has increased over the seasons as our platform has grown and as we've gotten more relatively comfortable in this position with this platform," Glazer says. "But I think you can see in the industry right now, everybody's message is becoming clearer.

"If you aren't talking about the political landscape, that's kind of something. If you're going to talk about it, you have to clearly state your beliefs and where you stand ethically or politically. So, our messages heightened and crystallized this year after that hiatus."

"Broad City," 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, Comedy Central