Review: Broad City S5E1 Stories
Broad City’s final season premiere, “Stories”, is high concept, joke dense, a little bit satirical, and definitely a celebration of the friendship between Abbi and Ilana. The Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer penned episode gets its name from Facebook and Instagram Stories, which if you’re some kind of a Luddite, are real time snapshots of your day. They can be saved, but for the most part, it’s a here today, gone tomorrow deal kind of like Abbi and Ilana’s phones. (But not their friendship.)
Director Nick Paley frames the entire episode as a series of social media stories as Ilana and Abbi celebrate Abbi’s 30th birthday by walking all of Manhattan. It’s the perfect idea for a series that has centered around Abbi and Ilana’s adventures running around New York, and this epic quest doesn’t disappoint. Also, using the Instagram story format allows for lots of visual jokes like when Abbi and Ilana see the “real life” version of the peach and eggplant emoji, and when Ilana keeps filming even after she falls into a manhole.
Paley also leans into the feels a little bit and creates some cute montages of Jaime (Arturo Castro), Lincoln (Hannibal Burress is back, yay), and Jaime’s boyfriend tipsily sending birthday messages. There’s also a montage of Abbi’s butt in various scenes of the show, which is a fantastic payoff to one of the series’ best running gags, and it continues to be riffed on throughout “Stories”. Glazer and Jacobson’s performances are non-stop energy in this episode, and the handheld style of filming is a throwback to when Broad City was a webseries and not a pop culture phenomenon. I could also not stop cracking up when Ilana was dancing with her one padawan-style braid in a self-deprecating scene where Glazer acknowledges her cultural appropriation in earlier seasons.
However, “Stories” isn’t all fun and games, and Glazer and Jacobson definitely dig into the existential crisis part of hitting the big three zero. Ilana stops with the crazy filters for a second as Abbi muses on her thankless Anthropologie job and posits that maybe she could have been a mom with kids by now. It doesn’t help when her old college friend Cheese (Cody Lindquist) shows up to retrieve her child in the mall that Abbi and Ilana were supposed to take to security, but end up using as an adorable and slightly creepy prop. Cheese reprimands Abbi and Ilana for their footloose and fancy free ways before having a total meltdown that is punctuated by dropping several “F” bombs at one of her four kids. Basically, even “stable” adults with kids don’t have their shit together. I really liked how Glazer and Jacobson showed how people can be similar ages and have totally different lives after college.
“Stories” is also a great satire of social media without being preachy or heavy handed. Broad City already showed Abbi and Ilana’s inability to function without their phone in the season 2 episode “The Matrix”, and almost four years later, it shows their inability to function without filming every second in “Stories”. The comedy from the Instagram story framing device shows that Glazer and Jacobson enjoy social media, and how it can capture fun moments, but also during the “stories”, they aren’t really living in these moments. It’s definitely a love/hate thing that I’ve thought about while being at concerts, good brunch places, and general fun experiences. Am I actually enjoying myself or just chronicling this for social media? Glazer and Jacobson ask this question in a humorous way and don’t give a definitive answer.
“Stories” starts off Broad City’s final season with some visual inventiveness, chains of jokes both visual and verbal, and of course, amazing friendship moments between Abbi and Ilana. Plus it’s a better and funnier love letter to Manhattan than the film with the same name…
Overall Rating: 9.5