As someone who aspires to live in New York City, one of my favorite television shows is Comedy Central’s Broad City. There are many reasons why I love this show, but I particularly enjoy the antics of Ilana Glazer’s character, Ilana Wexler.
Since Broad City began airing in 2014, Glazer’s character has had several game changing moments, and is very important in regards to on-screen representation for many reasons.
1. She normalizes the recreational use of marijuana. – When we first meet Ilana, she is a 22-year-old girl, fresh out of NYU, working her first full-time job at a Groupon-esque company. She smokes marijuana nearly every day and still manages to make it to work, even if she goofs around on company time, and spend time with loved ones. Wexler, destroys stereotypes that weed makes one a “burnout” or unproductive.
2. She is openly bisexual. – While almost every television show in this day and age has a token gay or lesbian character, they somehow manage to ignore the fact that bi people exist. Ilana openly vocalizes her feelings of sexual attraction towards people, both male and female, in nearly every episode. Most often, she frequently hits up dentist Lincoln Rice (played by Hannibal Buress) for booty calls. However, she has an unrequited love towards her best friend, Abbi (who doesn’t seem to mind). As someone who identifies as bi, I relate a lot to Ilana’s experience.
3. She normalizes casual relationships. – One thing I love about Ilana is that by the time she turns 23, she’s not engaged, nor is she in a serious relationship, and she is perfectly fine with that. Living in the south, there’s a lot of pressure for people to come out of college having found their soulmates and ready to marry them. Ilana lives her sex life to the fullest, whether it be with frequent friend-with-benefits Lincoln, her female doppelgänger (played by Alia Shawkat), or with herself in the mirror.
4. She embraces her Jewish culture. – Ilana frequently uses Jewish lingo on the show, and often in Jewish traditions. In one episode, she attends her grandmother’s shiva, and in another, her brother Eliot (played by Eliot Glazer, her real-life brother) holds a dog wedding, complete with Jewish rituals. More recently, the season 3 finale “Jews on a Plane”, sees Ilana and Abbi flying to Israel for Birthmarc, a fictional version of the Jewish traditional pilgrimage, Birthright.
5. She makes thought-provoking statements. – In the aforementioned episode, Abbi gets her period while in-flight. All of her tampons are in her suitcase, which is at the bottom of the plane. While in panic mode, Abbi and Ilana have an insightful conversation regarding why tampons should be free. “This must be how homeless women feel,” Ilana says. “If you get a couple bucks, do you buy food, or do you buy tampons?” Although, I can’t relate to this, I did gain an understanding as to why America’s tampon tax is unfair. Hell, I didn’t even know that feminine hygiene products are taxed as a luxury item.
6. She is always supportive of her friends. – Ilana never turns her back on her loved ones. Even if she forgot Lincoln’s birthday, she did remember to go to his celebration dinner. When Abbi’s air conditioner broke, Ilana helped Abbi steal her old A/C unit from her college dorm room. When Abbi didn’t sell her drawing at the art gallery, Ilana secretly bought it. Everyone needs an Ilana Wexler in their lives.
Be sure to catch the fourth season of Broad City when it returns this August. If you’ve not watched Broad City, all three seasons are currently available for streaming on Hulu.