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Down to Clown

The stars of ‘Broad City’ are upending—and redefining—what it means to be a Jewish woman in charge of her own sexuality

Jordana Narin
February 12, 2016

After a week of non-stop job applications, homework assignments, and a cough that just wouldn’t go away, all I want this weekend is a little R&R with my two favorite Jewesses. Unfortunately, Broad City—the stand-out Amy Poehler-produced Comedy Central sitcom starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson—isn’t back with new episodes until next Wednesday, so you can imagine my joy when I read Time Out New York’s cover story on Abbi and Ilana, who are gearing up for the release of Season 3 of Broad City. My Broad City itch was thus scratched, if only temporarily.

In the interview, Abbi and Ilana talk about everything from guest stars to their sex-positive views. And, of course, they talk about being Jewish. One big reveal from the Time Out interview is that Hillary Clinton will appear on the show’s upcoming season. Explains Abbi:

We wrote this episode where Ilana stumbles into Hillary’s campaign and is like, “Where am I?” We wrote it so that it could exist with or without Hillary, but we were like, “Fuck it, let’s just see.” We’re always like, “Fuck it, let’s just see.”

Even though I’m excited to see Clinton on the show, my favorite part of the interview is, of course, when the duo discuss their sexuality and their Judaism.

Time Out‘s Carla Sosenko: I feel like, whether intentionally or not, you guys are also upending the stereotype of the Jewish Girl, which as a Jewish girl from Long Island, I appreciate.

Glazer: Interesting. What do you mean?

Jacobson: I feel like we’re Jewish gals.

Glazer: I feel like we’re the most.

Sosenko: Somebody at work, who’s also Jewish, made some joke the other day about how Jewish women don’t like to give blow jobs, and I was like, That is the oldest…

Glazer: Wait, I thought that they do. I thought the thing was that Jewish girls are not as burdened by Catholic guilt, and that they were hornier.

Sosenko: Really?!?

Jacobson: I feel like my Jewish friends were always a little bit more advanced. They were down to clown.

Glazer: They were sluttier. And slutty is, to me, positive—someone who likes and enjoys and pursues sex.

Upending the “Jewish girl” stereotype. I like that. What attracted me to Broad City in the first place is Abbi and Ilana’s fresh take on what it means to be a young, liberal Jewish woman in the twenty-first century (or at least in New York City). Sure, they indulge in classic Jewish tropes: In the last episode of Season 2, Ilana says, “New York Jews wake up every day just thinking about how they’re going to die,” and Abbi wears a shirt with a graphic of a challah on it, accompanied by the phrase, “Challah back.” That’s funny, and I’m more than cool with Jews—particularly young women—asserting their roots though a pun on a tee or a reference to Woody Allen-esque neuroses.

But Abbi and Ilana are much, much more than simply their Jewishness. They’re young kids who are down for a good time, plain and simple. They embrace their sexuality, which, to others, might seem experimental, even vulgar. They favor: cunnilingus, pegging, cunnilingus, masturbation, and a “non-sexual” orgy activity called the “Arc de Triomphe.” For them, this is just good ‘ol fashioned sex; it’s “normal,” a part of their youth—regardless of their Judaism.

Furthermore, Abbi and Ilana pursue their sexual desires. They have appetites—big and loud and proud ones—and they are not afraid of satisfying them. In fact, doing so is their prerogative. They are, quite simply, active sexual consumers. Their curiosity and knowledge of their sexual proclivities are based on their desires as women, and as individuals, and not relationship-based.

In effect, Abbi and Ilana are able to show the world just how smart, funny, and yes, sexually dynamic, Jewish women can be. This is a departure from certain stereotypes of the Jewish woman—as icy and withholding, passive, or oversexed and out for gain. And l’chaim to that.

Jordana Narin is an intern at Tablet