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Broad City: The Stoner Revolution Has Been Televised

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The third season of Broad City premiered February 17th, 2016 and opened with a split screen sequence showing Abbi and Ilana’s bathrooms side by side with an open invitation to watch the two best friends go about their daily routines of using the toilet, talking to each other on the phone, personal grooming, checking pregnancy tests, singing, dancing, crying, puking, and sitting on the toilet again, bong in hand, smoking weed. Smoking lots and lots of weed.

I read this all before

Two years ago, when we first met Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler, the BFFs at the center of Broad City, they were doing the same exact things, and much to the astonishment of viewers, the two real characters exposed us to unabashed smoking of marijuana on our television screens. These were not villainous drug abusers, or perfect protagonists regrettably “experimenting” with pot, but modern, relatable twenty-somethings enjoying the occasional joint. It wasn’t long before articles proclaiming “The Rise of the Female Stoner” and “5 Reasons the ‘Broad City’ Women are the Stoner Heroines You’ve Been Waiting For” were published, and there was much ado about female-weed-smoking. Before long, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (the real life counterparts and creators of the show) were being handed pot by adoring fans on the street. Abbi, Ilana, and Broad City were the face of the female stoner movement. The revolution would be televised.

Let ‘em say what they gonna say

Over the last two years and twenty plus episodes, the conversation shifted away from their pot-toking antics and toward discussions of feminism, New York life, and the novelty of two females creating and starring in a show about two females. These are important, if not frustrating topics, but it seems as though the #weedtalk has died down, even as the two women continue to smoke more than ever. So, why aren’t we talking about Broad City lighting up anymore?

They gonna feel how they gonna feel

Abbi and Ilana have actually never made a big deal about smoking weed. While marijuana has had supporting roles in past television comedies (Weeds, Louie, Workaholics), weed almost acts as a co-star of the show, sharing screen time when the characters go to work (Ilana at her boring temp job, Abbi at her boring coat checking gig), out to dinner (also smoking out the bus boy), or just hanging out in their apartments. In an episode featuring renowned toker, Seth Rogen, Abi and her date celebrate the acquisition of an air conditioner during a summer heat wave by dancing and sharing a spliff. Another episode has Ilana getting high in order to remember where she lost her remote control. Smoking weed is as essential and trivial as waking up late for work or meeting a friend for lunch. Even their most outrageous weed-induced moments – holding in “nature’s pocket,” setting off the fire alarm at a dentist’s office, smoking out high school students – never seem to be because they smoked weed, but rather that they just made a poor decision.  Abbi and Ilana still might be leading the stoner revolution, but it’s a quiet one, and it’s better for that quiet.

Trying to work like a boss

The two weed geniuses have been accompanied by big names in pop and pot culture. Guests have included Seth Rogen, Kelly Ripa, Melissa Leo and, later this season, Hillary Clinton. While their past cameo stars have indulgently toked with them, it’s safe to assume Clinton didn’t inhale in the episode. From puking in toilets to becoming best friends with the Democratic Frontrunner/#Boss herself, Abbi and Ilana have come a long way. Not bad for a couple of stoners.

I love it, baby. Hey, you should too

While Abbi and Ilana don’t have everything figured out —or anything figured out, really—they manage to be spectacular representations for the “stoner” community. Aside from being middle class and college-educated, every single episode showcases the two supporting one another, being empathetic and emotionally vulnerable, sexually open and culturally understanding. They’re relatable twenty-somethings, struggling through the grind of city life, who happen to smoke weed. Pot smoking is just one aspect of these full, well-rounded characters. They’re broke, single(ish), hate their jobs, and are seemingly aimless, but they love it. And you should, too.


Lyrics (in bold) by Lizzo and Caroline Smith – “Let ‘Em Say

Photo courtesy Comedy Central

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