Photo courtesy of Comedy Central
It's a pretty good week to be Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, she won Democratic primaries in four states—Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio. As she delivered her victory speech that night in Florida. However, cable news hosts took to Twitter to mock the presidential candidate's facial expressions and vocal intonations, again criticizing her for "shouting" and not smiling enough. But last night's much-hyped episode of Broad City offered viewers a different Hillary in the form of the playful, good-humored feminist who buddies up with creators/stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.
This of course was Clinton's second big TV cameo of the current election cycle. In October, the former secretary of state appeared on the 41st season premiere of SNL (hosted by Miley Cyrus, who like the Broad City duo, is another member of the young, female demographic Clinton is supposedly struggling to secure). In the episode, Clinton shares four-plus minutes of screen time as a vodka-pouring bartender named Val to whom SNL's Clinton (Kate McKinnon) confides waffling over important issues. It was one of the first times Clinton seemed to really let her guard down and admit that she, too, has flaws.
Clinton's Broad City appearance was decidedly more straight-ahead. The episode centers on Ilana's gig as a hapless aide at the candidate's Brooklyn headquarters, after earlier stints as a subway tap dancer and a wig-rocking bike messenger. The show heightens Ilana's zeal for the candidate as she makes inappropriate calls to undecided voters and attends a staff meeting in which she realizes that Clinton is a Grammy winner (1997's best spoken word album, for It Takes a Village). Soon Ilana comes to the unhappy realization that the work is volunteer and thus unpaid, and because of that, untenable. She packs up her belongings with Abbi in tow, but not before crossing paths with the candidate herself in the office lobby.
The women are gobsmacked to meet Clinton, whom they can hardly believe has "walked on these floors" or "breathed this air," which smells "decisive," "like confidence." The former junior senator from New York's arrival is captured in slow motion as dance music plays and the winking candidate causes an overhead lamp to explode, shooting sparks from the ceiling. As an apology for having to quit, Ilana vows to tweet, once a week, "Vote for Hillary, yas, yas, yas." "That would be great," Clinton grins. She speaks the stump-speech-y line, "We need to drum up some excitement for the campaign," then plugs in a red Sky Dancer like the ones frequently spotted outside car dealerships, a callback to Ilana's go-to morale booster at her previous job at Deals Deals Deals. "Isn't she great?" Clinton asks, basking in the looming figure's contortions. "We assumed it was a he," whispers Ilana. "No, no, it's a she—it's definitely a she," Clinton replies, forever gendering these wind-blown creatures to the show's viewers.
Broad City's enthusiasm for Clinton is genuine, and not only because she is the most prominent public figure ever to appear on the show, which began as a low-budget web series produced by improv nerds. "We're big Hillary supporters, for a lot of reasons," Glazer told Playboy earlier this month. "I really like Hillary's women's rights agenda," added Jacobson. "I like her thoughts on the environment."
On both Broad City and SNL, the Clinton campaign has reinforced the message that, no matter what you've heard, Hillary is your friend. But while her Broad City spot was more of a gush-fest, Clinton's SNL appearance might have been more the effective one in terms of endearing her to young, female voters.
Instead of casting her as a marshmallow version of herself, SNL reimagined Clinton as a wise bartender named Val, quite a departure from America's emissary to 112 countries as secretary of state. Pouring vodka, Val comforts McKinnon's candidate Clinton over the national nonstop discourse surrounding Republican party frontrunner Donald Trump. When a fellow bar employee thanks McKinnon—who is a lesbian in real life—for being an ally of gay rights, the following exchange occurs:
Clinton: "It really is great how you supported gay marriage."
McKinnon: "I could have supported it sooner."
Clinton: "Well, you did it pretty soon."
McKinnon: "Could have been sooner."
Clinton, nodding her head in reluctant agreement: "Fair point."
This followed a similar back-and-forth where Clinton checked her initial endorsement of the Keystone pipeline ("There's nothing wrong with taking your time; what's important is getting it right," says Clinton). Before the sketch ends, Clinton imitates Trump, then she and McKinnon stand side-by-side singing a duet of Bill Withers's " Lean on Me."
Even if Broad City's writers took few risks with their Clinton cameo, there's something refreshing about seeing such a high-profile person conversing with just a couple wide-eyed admirers, sans stadium backdrop or a battalion of Secret Service men (never mind the fact that Comedy Central camera crew facilitated this production). Here was the former first lady at her most truly approachable—so much so that Abbi got candid about "pegging" a former crush. As Clinton continues the harder-than-expected battle for her party's nomination, she'll need all the yas, yas, yas she can get.
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