One’s early and late twenties (And let’s throw 30 in there for good measure.) is a time of great change. But this change can be difficult, and this difficulty and the emotions that follow are the core theme of the Broad City episode “Sleep No More”. The episode gets its name from Sleep No More, an immersive theatre experience in New York where you walk around a film noir type space in an old building and see a silent version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The eerie setting of the theatre is a fantastic backdrop for director Lucia Aniello to do some atmospheric filmmaking while chronicling Abbi telling Ilana that she’s moving to Boulder, Colorado to do an art residency. “Sleep No More” is penned by Ilana Glazer, and she gets to put Ilana and Abbi through the paces of awkward comedy, melodrama, earnest drama, and utter farce that is the Abbi/Ilana breakup.
“Sleep No More” also addresses the enduring pop culture trend of TV sitcoms wearing out their welcome and resorting to tricks, like weird new characters or playing off the same dynamic over and over again until the ratings get too low and cancellation happens. (Or doesn’t in the case of The Simpsons.) Abbi and Ilana are fun characters, and many fans of Broad City would love to watch them to go on hilarious, random, and sometimes surreal adventures in New York. And this is what the character of Ilana wants to do, and you can tell by the puppy dog look that Glazer puts on every time that Abbi mentions a possibility of staying.
However, human beings are not never aging yellow people. They change, grow, and want to find fulfillment, which is something Abbi isn’t finding in New York right now. Between Ilana’s destruction of Sleep No More props, Abbi gives her reasons for moving that include not having to clean human pubic hair (Shout out to Soulstice!) or dispose smelly leftover food from catering gigs and just focus on art. And Ilana can visit her via a very complicated, two layover flight or FaceTime her. However, in the moment, she doesn’t get this.
In “Sleep No More”, Glazer gets to act pure rage and showcase the darkest parts of her character that are used kept down beneath “Yas queens”, flashy outfits, and performative wokeness. She isn’t reasonable when Abbi talks about going to Boulder, but goes absolutely apeshit and can’t fathom a world where she’s without Abbi. And, on the other side, Abbi tells her that she’s her only friend so she has to go through a brave new world as well.
Lucia Aniello and Glazer get to mine a vein of deep sadness after Sleep No More happens as Ilana gives Abbi a handshake before she leaves for her apartment and finds out her new roommate has new Great Danes named Jay-Z and Beyonce. It’s sadness all around, but the actual ending of the episode is hilarious and a great callback to Ilana and Abbi’s bathroom FaceTimes throughout the series. Maybe, things will be okay for them over the next two episodes of the city, but their lives will be very different.
You can almost feel Glazer and Jacobson coming to terms with ending their hit sitcom that started out as a scrappy webseries and became a pop culture phenomenon through this episode. They have bright futures as actors, comedians, writers, directors, Jacobson as a visual artist, and as talented human beings, but “Sleep No More” gives viewers a sad reminder that all good things, including iconic comedic pairings running through New York, must come to an end or end up doing nuanced, dramatic performances like on this episode. And, honestly, it’s for the best in a world where thousands flocks to arenas to watch KISS lip sync their greatest hits to name one particularly pathetic example off the top of my head.
Overall Verdict: 9.0