Winter is coming for the women of Broad City. Comedy Central’s hit stoner sitcom returns this Wednesday for season 4, and for the first time, we’ll see Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer) take on the slushy, snowy streets of New York in January.
The decision to set the show during the winter presented series costume designer Staci Greenbaum with a new challenge: Adapting the leading ladies’ signature styles to freezing weather. (A particularly tricky task when it came to dressing Ilana, who lives in sheer shirts and high-waisted hot pants.)
Glazer has warned fans that the new season will be “dark as fuck,” and not just because of its wintry backdrop: The new batch of episodes will also address the current political climate, doing so through both its always-witty writing and its wardrobe. Below, Greenbaum discusses Abbi and Ilana’s changing closets, the Fran Drescher cameo fans can’t miss, and how season 4 uses fashion to make a social statement.
How will we see Abbi and Ilana’s personal styles evolve in season 4?
There’s been a pretty significant passage of time since we last saw them, and I do think the girls have grown up a bit, in their own way. Both are going down new professional avenues: Abbi, we will come to learn, is now exploring her more artistic side after her awkwardness with [her Soulstice coworker] Trey. She starts working for a graphic design firm, and I wanted to play to that by showing some cool graphic items on Abbi.
And then Ilana got fired from Deals Deals Deals, so she’s in the process of navigating what her next move is, and I think to some degree we’ll see a shift [in her style] there. It’s also winter this season — so for Ilana, who doesn’t usually wear much clothing, there’s a whole new world we’re exploring. It’s going to be a very colorful season: a lot of pattern play and a lot of accessorizing.
This is the first time you’ve shot the show during the winter; how will Ilana cope without her crop tops and cutoffs?
Ilana wears a parka for the majority of this season, and while it’s embellished and personalized, it goes all the way to the floor, so she’s essentially a floating head — it’s kind of a running joke. In past seasons, we’ve played up the whole idea that New York in the summertime is totally excruciating — but winter in New York is disgusting, too! We had some fun showing, like, the exhaustive necessity of getting all bundled to go outside only to then go into the subway, where it’s super hot.
Judging by the trailer, there’s also going to be an unusual amount of formalwear in season 4. What’s that about?
So remember Oliver, the “Yas Queen” kid that Ilana babysits? One of the episodes this season revolves around Abbi and Ilana housesitting for his mother, Heidi, and while they’re there they go through her closet, and there are many, many outfit changes. Ilana goes through multiple gowns, smoking jackets… she even puts on Heidi’s lingerie!
Also, living in New York, not everyone has access to laundry; Heidi’s townhouse has these magnificent washing machines, so Ilana invites everyone over, and everyone comes with their gigantic laundry bags. It turns into this kind of laundry staycation.
The girls are also off to Florida in an episode, right?
Yes! And that was probably the most fun episode of the season to shoot. In a previous season, we saw that Ilana’s grandmother passed away, so the girls go down to Florida to clean out her closet. I think they each had 11 or 12 changes each, all out of her grandmother’s closet. And then Ilana’s brother, Eliot, loses his suitcase, so he also winds up wearing some stuff.
It was just this really fun, colorful, playful moment; we were inspired by The Golden Girls. And those tracksuits — I had a whole rack of them! We took to Etsy and eBay a little more than usual for the clothes in that episode just so we could kind of control the color palette. We have access to so many wonderful vintage stores here in New York, but that was the first time in a while that I had to really hunt on eBay to find, like, a gold sequined shell, or a jacket with a poker motif on it.
We also get to meet Ilana’s aunt in that episode, who’s played by Fran Drescher. Working with her was just an incredible experience in every way. Obviously her fashion sensibility is amazing, and The Nanny actually inspired a lot of Ilana’s outfits on the show.
What are some of your personal favorite Broad City looks from past seasons?
Definitely Abbi’s blue bandage dress — I mean, duh, it’s iconic! And it’s coming back: You’ll see it again this season, but not on who you think. [Laughs] They’ve written it into every season.
Also, Ilana’s lattice bra. It’s the piece I get the most questions about. It’s from a store called LF, and it’s just a really fun, easy way to accessorize. It’s a great bra because it fits pretty much everyone; Ilana, who’s pretty busty, feels totally secure and comfortable in it. You won’t see it quite as much this season — again, because it’s winter — but we definitely have it in there.
Where did you do most of your shopping for season 4?
This season, Abbi’s still all about Madewell, Topshop, H&M, and Zara. We’ve also come to love & Other Stories for her. And you know, she’s gotten a pay bump, so she’ll buy a little something on Gilt or The Outnet — sites that offer easy access but are discounted. Abbi really wouldn’t pay full price. She’d probably be willing to splurge on a party dress from Reformation.
With everything that’s going on right now politically, we also really tried to showcase small brands that are making big social statements, like The Outrage, Otherwild, and Wildfang. T-shirts, pins, patches… Ilana is more overt with her statements, of course, but we really did sprinkle those things around everywhere.
We shot season 4 this past January, February, and March, at a time when all of us felt really empowered, and we wanted to show off the work of real people who are doing good for society. We have this public platform that we get to use to send a message, and it was a really cathartic experience to be able to use clothes to do that.
Broad City season 4 premieres September 13th at 10:30 p.m on Comedy Central.