Just as Abbi and Ilana are proud of the women they’ve become over five season of Broad City, I am proud of the show that Broad City has become. The series finale “Broad City” has fantastic bits of slapdash comedy from writer/creator/actors Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, but it has two truly powerful emotional moments that act as endpoints to Abbi and Ilana’s arcs before dovetailing to a thematically resonant ending from director Lucia Aniello. It’s sad that there will be no more Abbi/Ilana adventures (Unless they bust out the characters for beer/Super Bowl ads down the road.), but Jacobson and Glazer should be applauded for ending their sitcom on an emotional high and at its peak.
With Abbi and Ilana’s adventures as well as the overall plots of Broad City, the actual adventure was never the draw. It was just Abbi and Ilana having a good time with each other and bringing wackiness, surrealism, and friendship to every moment. This spirit is embodied in “Broad City”‘s shenanigans, including a futile quest for a bacon egg and cheese bagel that turns into a futile quest to carry a $10,000 toilet via skateboard across the Brooklyn Bridge. The fact that they get tasty food or a high tech toilet doesn’t matter, it’s that they get to try to use baby talk to get breakfast at the bodega at 11 or share a look of a disgust at Cornell sweatshirt wearing tourists in line for a bagel in Manhattan. They simply enjoy each other’s company and seeing the world through the other’s lens.
Also, combined with leaving each other, Abbi and Ilana have ended up bringing out the best in each other throughout Broad City and especially in this final season. Ilana has decided to channel her ability to connect with almost anyone to go to grad school and become a therapist while Abbi has decided to swing for the fences, stop cleaning pubes or being a caterer, and taking the next step with her art by joining a fellowship in Boulder.
They couldn’t have taken these next steps without each other although Abbi did have to leave New York to achieve her dream. But, honestly, Ilana gets that and shows it by basically kicking out everyone from Abbi’s going away party and sharing one last moment on the rooftop of Abbi’s apartment. Bevers is there too, dressed quite dapper, and gives her the great gift of labeled tupperware, which is an amazing callback to when he was introduced by eating Abbi’s cheese.
He, Jaime, and Lincoln all get to say their goodbyes. And Trey (Paul W. Downs) gets the most extra farewell as he completely misreads the room, shoots his shot, and proposes to Abbi like they’re concluding a three season romantic arc. The whole roof party scene (Other than to get one last great Ilana outfit.) is a great parody of ending party sequences in films and TV shows because most of the people there are random people from Abbi’s building than Ilana got to “fill out the party”. Because this episode is really the Abbi and Ilana show.
Jacobson, Glazer, and Aniello center “Broad City” around the difficulty of saying “Good bye” to a friend who is moving away, and this has been the through line of the back half of Broad City Season 5. Thankfully, Aniello doesn’t go all Peter Jackson and have multiple cuts to black and “endings”, but Abbi and Ilana have three farewells and one post-separation FaceTime call done in the split screen style that was a signature of a lot of their cold opens.
One goodbye is very romantic and set at the Brooklyn Bridge where they write their names while the other is low key and involves a note on a sleeping Ilana’s nose. The final one is just a super intense conversation about how Abbi and Ilana feel about each other and includes some “F” bombs dropped at a cab driver for one last moment of fierce synergy against the patriarchy. Their last conversations are both heartfelt and wacky; there are riffs on the apocalypse and survivalism as well as well wishes and love. And, honestly, that’s how it should be.
The final scene in “Broad City” is a master class in creating a universal experience in film and television from Lucia Aniello. She opens with an overhead shot of two friends leaving the subway, which has been the trademark way Abbi and Ilana get around New York. Then, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson sprinkle in bits of banter from character who we’ll never know about crazy times in New York City. Finally, Aniello goes from closeup to overhead of pairs of people walking through New York presenting the thesis that any duo of friends helping each other laugh, live, and grow is their own Abbi and Ilana.
“Broad City” definitely made me tear up and was a real showcase of maturity and character development using the buddy sitcom format. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have created two characters that I genuinely care about and helped me laugh through some hard times, and I’ll definitely miss Abbi and Ilana in animated or live action form. But it’s nice to see a show go out as arguably the best show to ever air on Comedy Central than wear out its welcome with recycled plots and gimmicks.
“Four and three and two and one…”