TV

‘Broad City’ Says Goodbye To Its Little Foibles, Mishaps, And Shenanigans


Matthew Peyton

To quote a girl group that has been back in the news lately:

“Goodbye, my friend
(I know you’re gone, you said you’re gone, but I can still feel you here)
It’s not the end
(I gotta keep it strong before the pain turns into fear)
So glad we made it
Time will never change it, no, no, no”

While the connection between that Spice Girls song and the Broad City series finale (appropriately titled “Broad City”) probably wasn’t Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s intent, when there’s a Spice Girls song that applies to a certain situation, it’s always worth noting.

When I reviewed the fifth season of Broad City (based on a handful of episodes), I noted how this final season is all about maturity and growing up. The season premiere, “Stories,” ended with an intellectually pseudo-intellectual realization from the Abbi and Ilana that they’re missing out on actually making memories by focusing too much on their phones and letting everyone know how great of a time they’re having. Since then, the girls have continued to run around the city like Cheese (aka Lindsay) said they did, “with [their] little foibles and [their] little mishaps and [their] little shenanigans,” but they’ve been doing it all with more of a purpose. They’ve truly been focusing on themselves, though not in a self-involved way: Abbi started to really focus on her art and explore her sexuality, while Ilana decided to go back to school and learned to accept her loved ones moving on to live different lives from her. This season has answered what the “mature” version of Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler look like, without completely changing everything about these characters.

(Also since writing about the season, I’ve of course seen the Abbi hat episode. Good episode. Not so much a good hat, but definitely a yellow one.)

“Broad City” the episode is pretty smart to shove in as many foibles, mishaps, and shenanigans as it possibly can for this last hurrah. And naturally, the episode reminds us all that New York City is the third broad, whether it’s in the form of bodega/deli bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, walking the Brooklyn Bridge with a toilet, or taxi drivers who are just completely over everything (whether it’s a girl trying to bring a toilet into the cab or another girl wasting his time on an emotional farewell). While the series ends on the idea of there being far more stories and misadventures for other broads in the city, the idea of Broad City the series being set anywhere else but New York City — a main character in its own right, okay? — is near impossible. Abbi had to move to Colorado, as the only way to end this series was either for at least one of these women to no longer live in New York or for both women to Thelma and Louise themselves off the Brooklyn Bridge. (This episode’s opening title card already has animated Abbi and Ilana running off into the sunset.) The former is how things go, but the latter is clearly an option for Ilana. “Broad City” shows that growing up doesn’t necessarily have to mean growing apart — even if you physically have to be away from your best friend — and it doesn’t mean you change yourself completely. “Abbi + Ilana Forever.”

As any series finale tries to have some sort of meaning to leave the audience thinking about long after the show is gone, “Broad City” has Ilana searching for meaning when it comes to her and Abbi’s final day together in New York. It starts with the failed BEC hunt, but then there’s Ilana’s philosophical waxing about the $10,000 toilet being their true final adventure. It’s almost always truly small, weird adventures, but Ilana presents them as the biggest thing in the world to Abbi, and that ultimately ends up falling in line with the “end of days” style promotion for this season.

The whole final season was mostly filmed in order, a concept that makes perfect sense when you actually watch it. In fact, the final scene with Abbi and Ilana actually together was also the final scene shot of the series. This is Jacobson and Glazer’s way of truly allowing the audience to properly be along for the final journey. And it’s an episode that knows exactly what the audience wants because while it may “disappoint” in not having Abbi wear the blue dress at the farewell party, it knows the even better option is for Abbi to leave the dress behind for Ilana. It also knows that while it’s nice to see Lincoln, Jaime (regretting New Jersey), and even Trey (and Maria) say goodbye to Abbi — alongside strangers from the building — this is all about Ilana’s goodbye to Abbi.

It’s been interesting to look back at Broad City during this final season. Obviously, sitcoms have a lot more broadening of characters as the seasons go on — which has been to Broad City’s detriment prior to this season — but when the series begins, not only is Abbi so rigid and stuck in routine, so depressingly unmotivated compared to now. This season has put in the work on Abbi’s focus on her art and finally had her succeed though, which is what leads her to Colorado. Ilana, on the other hand, was much more familiar, as enjoying her casual relationship with a Lincoln (who of course wanted to define the relationship). Also: Abbi and Ilana Skype with each other for video call purposes. 2014, man.

There have been plenty of callbacks and reminders for the fans this season, but the penultimate episode really worked double-time on that front, even trying to get the girls to a Lil’ Wayne concert yet again. (And again, partially failing because of Craigslist. Even back in 2014, Craigslist screwed them over.) “Broad City” has these moments too, of course, like with Abbi getting some patented non-researched Ilana rants for the road (the series began with her explaining to Abbi that “What A Wonderful World” is a “slave song”) or Bevers giving Abbi Tupperware with her name on it to protect her cheese from people like Bevers. There’s also just the fact that Abbi and Ilana wrote this final episode, as they did the pilot, and the same goes for Lucia Aniello’s directing.

With this final season, both Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have had to work in even more drama into the comedy, to really sell the finality of all this. That’s an integral part of this episode, with Ilana’s Brooklyn Bridge sadness (that ends up being an act but still works) and even a technically funny line like when she says “But maybe we’ll be friends. I don’t have any left” to Trey. Broad City ultimately makes co-dependence look so good, which typically isn’t an ideal scenario or takeaway for a series, but in this case, this co-dependence also comes from the fact that Abbi and Ilana are each other’s soulmates. And that particular bond between two best friends is the spirit that Broad City clearly hopes lives on in others.

Who knows? Maybe in five years when the apocalypse comes, Broad City will return to let us know how things are going in St. Louis for the duo. Assuming either Abbi or Ilana are actually able to make it to St. Louis. (Is this the plot of a potential Broad City spin-off movie? Yes.) Ultimately, just like Gossip Girl’s mess of a series finale said there will always be a Gossip Girl, Broad City’s gem of a series finale says there are always going to be a pair of broads in the city. Not all of them are going to be a couple of Jewesses trying to make it through this crazy world, but that’s okay.

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