'Broad City' Stars Discuss Decision to Bleep Out Trump's Name in Season 4

"For us to not be talking about it in the show would be insane," co-creator and star Abbi Jacobson said.
Photographed by David Needleman

Broad City is no stranger to censors.

Over the acclaimed comedy's three-season run on Comedy Central, co-creators and stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have used both audio censors (for curse words and the like) as well as pixelation-type censors (for certain body parts, natch).

However, the duo are using the censors for a very different reason in season four: to bleep out the name of President Donald Trump in the upcoming fourth season.

"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 and we just didn’t want to share airtime," Glazer told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "He's got enough, and I also don't even want to hear the word. It's a different kind of joke."

The idea to censor out his name came late in the writing process for the two. While the duo began writing season four in May 2016, they took an extended break in the middle to work on other projects. When they resumed writing in late 2016, Trump had recently won the White House. "We came up with it in the writers room because he was elected president and we were like, 'Ugh, we can't deal with this,'" Glazer said. "We did more rewriting than ever before, more creatively than logistically ... because the election happened and the world changed, or solidified in a way."

Added Glazer: "The clarity of the election happening, it solidified all these messages."

While both said they didn't want to give any extra screentime to Trump, they also said it would have been impossible to completely avoid the topic of Trump and politics as a whole in the upcoming season.

"This is a thing that's happening right now. This is happening in the other Abbi and Ilana's lives, so this is something they're going to be talking about," Jacobson said. "For us to not be talking about it in the show would be insane."

Just as in real life, a storyline this upcoming season will cover the fictionalized version of Abbi and Ilana's changing relationship with politics. "I think that is how people are really trying to be more woke about what is going on and more informed, and we tried to infuse that into the characters. The characters are rally trying too, very hard, and we play with that too," Jacobson said. "The characters are really trying to be woke and be involved in this and be better and change things, but they also try and fail at stuff."

The pair also pointed to the change in how television shows across the landscape tackle politics for why they felt comfortable leaning into the discussion more heavily in season four. "I think you can see in the industry everybody's message is becoming clear," Glazer said. "It's not just casual, and if you're going to talk about it, you have to clearly state your beliefs and where you stand ethically or politically. So our message is heightened and crystallized this year after our hiatus."

Their increased comfort with discussing politics is also a product of time, according to Glazer. "Whether it's age or just experience with the show, I think we are harnessing that power more than before but I think it was always there."

As in seasons past, like season three when Hillary Clinton made an appearance as herself, politics will be "peppered in throughout but it's not all politics," according to Jacobson.

When asked if the current nature of politics has informed their future plans for Broad City, Glazer did acknowledge that "we are talking about the life of the series at this point," but she said the political angle is not their chief concern.

"The first thing that we think about with the show is the funny, so it's like comedy first — and obviously the friendship is the core of it — so the tool part of it is like this other layer," Jacobson said. "We're not putting mission statements on the board."

Broad City's fourth season premieres in September on Comedy Central.