Before the fourth season of Broad City premiered this fall, co-creator and star Ilana Glazer told The Daily Beast that the new episodes would be “dark as fuck” thanks to Donald Trump, whose name she and Abbi Jacobson pledged to bleep the entire season. “It is as dark as the world is today.”
Wednesday night’s episode, “Witches,” revealed just how dark things would become. It turns out that Ilana, the sex-positive, self-proclaimed “Cum Queen,” has not been able to orgasm since the day Trump was elected.
More broadly, the episode is about women reclaiming their power at a time when they, because of the discourse in the country from the White House to Hollywood, felt unable or too dejected to harness it.
Mirroring Ilana’s sexual repression is a storyline in which Abbi reaches what Ilana rules “the most powerful moment in a woman’s life,” but which is causing Abbi intense anxiety: her first gray hair.
“Don’t you see?” Ilana shrieks. “You’re becoming a witch. A dope and powerful fucking witch,” like Dame Judi Dench and Stacy London from What Not to Wear.
Abbi, on the other hand, sees it as a symbol of her beauty fading, and, as she’s been conditioned to think, therefore also the currency through which she’d have been able to accomplish all the things she wanted to before this proverbial last fuckable day, like being at a stage in her life where she’d post pictures of acai bowls on Instagram.
The episode has uncanny timing, not unlike when the Tina Fey-produced Great News happened to air an episode eerily resonant against the Harvey Weinstein allegations days after the investigations into the Hollywood mogul were made public earlier this month.
Centering an episode around witches and the wicked ways pop culture depicts female power couldn’t be more current. Marvel as well, then, at the timing of Kathryn VanArendonk’s Vulture essay “Why the Witch Is the Pop-Culture Heroine We Need Right Now.”
“Two voices seem to define the last several weeks in popular culture,” she writes. “On the one hand, we have Woody Allen’s warning that allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of sexual assault and harassment were creating a ‘a witch hunt atmosphere’; on the other, Lindy West’s responding op-ed: ‘Yes, This Is a Witch Hunt. I’m a Witch, and I’m Hunting You.’”
“Witches and witch hunts feel especially vital now, and it’s not hard to see why,” she continues. “It’s a time when women are frequently barred from positions of power and endure daily attacks on their right to bodily independence. If you’re a man with a certain political outlook, these women are witches who want to abort their babies and subvert the natural reproductive process, who crave power and exert unnatural wiles. At the same time, many of those same women are marching in the streets and insisting that men can no longer harass and assault them with impunity. The witches are striking back.”
In Ilana’s case, striking back first means getting her orgasm back.
Stressed out that she hasn’t come in months, she seeks out a sex therapist (guest star Marcella Lowery). She does all the therapist-y things, having Ilana name her vulva, which she naturally calls Abbi, and then talk to it. First Ilana rages against Vulva Abbi. Then she tearfully confesses the problem: a buildup of anxiety and depression in recent months that have left her with a “dead pussy.”
Saying the words triggers PTSD-like memories for her. Suddenly a montage of Donald Trump’s victory speech interspersed with his comments about grabbing women by the pussy play and Ilana has her epiphany: “I haven’t cum since the election!”
The therapist is hardly surprised. “Orgasms have been down 140 percent since Trump was elected,” she says, of course with the T-word bleeped. “I’m technically the only small business owner that human skin tag has helped.”
She explains to Ilana, “You’re traumatized by the fact that a sexual assault-bragging steak salesman has become our president.” She starts coaching her through masturbation exercises, but each time Ilana starts to stimulate herself, thoughts of the electoral college, Mike Pence, and “tiny hands” invade her thoughts.
But then she has a breakthrough.
She starts thinking about Michelle Obama’s “We Go High” speech, and Hillary Clinton’s poised speaking. Images of powerful women from Malala Yousafzai to Elizabeth Warren, Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Serena Williams scroll through her mind until she finally comes. Hard. When we see her next, she’s wrapped in a foil trauma blanket, having lost so much bodily fluid when the floodgates reopen—the result of, as the therapist says, “a year of Trump-related pussy constipation.”
Finally relieved, she reunites with Abbi, who has worked through her insecurities about looking older and feeling devalued by society. Both now enlightened, they encounter a scroll that has fallen from the sky, inviting them to a meet-up of fellow witches in Central Park to revel in their reclaimed power and feminine magic.
“I saw shit,” Ilana gushes to Abbi, recounting the parade of inspiring women that finally got her come again. “Witches who run the world. Witches aren’t monsters. They’re just women. Fucking women, who cum and giggle and play in the night. And that’s why everyone wants to set them on fire, because they’re so fucking jealous.”
Not anymore. Now, it’s witching hour.