Who's Ilana's Aunt On 'Broad City'? Fran Drescher Plays Another Loudly Self-Assured Wexler Woman
Broad City fans already met Ilana's mom back in Season 2 when Susie Essman's Bobbi gave hilarious insight into the person her daughter is. The episode "Florida" introduces Fran Drescher as Ilana's aunt on Broad City, exploring more of the family that nurtured Abbi's bestie. Part of the delight at seeing Ilana's extended family comes from the spot-on casting of another female comedy legend. But also, Ilana's mom and aunt show viewers firsthand that Ilana comes from a long line of bold, vocal women. With such amazing role models, it's no wonder that Ilana is the uniquely dynamic person that she is and has paid it forward by encouraging her BFF Abbi to exhibit that same type of brash behavior.
The scenario that introduces Ilana's Aunt Bev is all too familiar for adult children who have lost grandparents. Bobbi and Bev meet up at their mom's Florida home to sort through her belongings after her death. Abbi and Ilana naively attempt to become members of what turns out to be a gun-toting and racist senior community. Elliot goes through Grandma Esther's closet for a new wardrobe after losing his luggage. And the sisters resort to bickering about who deserves to get their mother's ring. Yet, some weed supplied by Ilana removes the tension between Bev and Bobbi, and they decide the material possession doesn't need to tear them apart, especially since they're dealing with an actual loss.
"Florida" marks the second time in Season 4 that the younger stars of Broad City relinquished some of the spotlight to the older women in their characters' lives. "Abbi's Mom" showed Abbi that her traditional, conservative mom is more similar to her than she had ever realized. And while Ilana doesn't require an a-ha moment like that when it comes to her mother, who has always been overly open, "Florida" offers a rare TV moment where two women over 50 are given the time to discuss normal, but meaningful, events in their lives. Is it any wonder that the episode before "Florida" gave a shout-out to the Golden Girls?
But what's possibly even better is that "Florida" showcases these women who could easily be dismissed as "obnoxious." Essman and Drescher have played loudmouthed characters in their careers (most notably, Essman in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Drescher in The Nanny), but that doesn't mean they should be condemned, even if those characters could be a little rude at times. They are comedic actors crushing it in their roles; and how many "annoying" male characters have been given a pass? Plus, even in their limited amount of screen time, these women prove there is much more to them than a scathing quip or a piercing laugh — although Drescher and Essman do excel at both of those things. After all, Drescher deserves an MVP award for her line, "Oh big freakin' deal. She came outta you, you can't smoke a little weed that came outta her?"
The term "unapologetic woman" is a cliché, but it's very fitting in the case of Ilana and her female family members. Bobbi and Bev are — yep, you guessed it — unapologetically themselves and this full-bodied confidence was passed down to Ilana. Sure, you could argue that Ilana might benefit from some self-awareness every now and again. But when the majority of females in society are either overly criticized for their behavior or overly critical of themselves, Ilana is a beacon of outrageous light. And she helps the more buttoned-up Abbi loosen up and feel free to be herself as well.
So while the women of Ilana's family (and that includes Abbi) may be judged for their assured attitudes and larger-than-life personalities, they serve as a reminder that it feels so good to just be yourself. Because as long as you're not hurting anyone, no one — male or female — should ever have to apologize for the person they are, whether they are as wild as a Wexler or as mild as an Abrams.