SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details about the Season 5 finale of Broad City.
The loopy, totally dope friendship of Abbi and Ilana of Broad City isn’t truly over, it’s just moved to anther plane of existence that lies somewhere beyond the city limits of New York and off the programming grid of Comedy Central. The 50th and final episode of the critically acclaimed buddy saga about two women who process life more than they actually progress through it.
The final episode was, fittingly, a stoner meander through NYC with the ever-vocal and always-local Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer), who have done for the Big Apple what Lenny & Squiggy did for Milwaukee or Bert & Ernie did for Sesame Street or Bill & Ted did for San Dimas — which is maybe not a whole lot, in the final analysis, but at least it all was accomplished with someone special on the other side of an ampersand.
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The show began life in 2010 as a web series. Its roots extend back to the Upright Citizens Brigade; Jacobson and Glazer both sharpened their comedy skills at New York’s UCB and UCB founding member Amy Poehler is an executive producer. Broad City made the jump to Comedy Central in 2014 as a half-hour scripted comedy that won critics over with its daft take on New York life for 20-somethings whose world view is somewhere between Adventure Time and Sex & The City.
The show’s critical acclaim and five-year run could also be viewed as major vindication for a project that was flattened in its formative stage by a demoralizing setback. In I Might Regret This, her 2018 book, Jacobson wrote that FX had rejected the first television iteration of Broad City as “too girly” — a dismissal that came after a year of development and emotional investment by the creative team. “We were devastated,” Jacobson wrote. “This thing that was once so far-fetched has actually started to come to fruition, and then was abruptly taken away.”
In the end, Broad City lived up to its far-fetched aspirations. As the ladies would say: “YAAAAAAAAS KWEEN!” The show’s two stars wrote the pilot as well as about half of the episodes along the way. The finale episode lived up to fan expectations by including, in no particular order, inane discussions about cheese security protocols, some Beastie Boys music, the inescapable allure of a $10,000 toilet, the hidden messages of Steamboat Willie, plans of a St Louis rendezvous, the hidden agenda of the U.S. Postal Service…well, you get the idea. The core plot really is simply the impending departure of Abbi, who has accepted a Colorado artist’s residency. Her friend is aghast about the prospects of Boulder life. “What is the culture there, rocks?” Abbi reminds Ilana about the higher elevation factor: recreational marijuana. “Oh, right.”
The story starts with the disappearance of their favorite bodega (seemingly overnight, too, a metaphor for their looming split). “The bodega is totally gone!” The show veers from bittersweet to sweetly bitter and back again. It includes a sparkling rooftop farewell party, a fizzled proposal, and a post-it note farewell. In the end, a split-screen shows the friends now on opposite ends of a phone call, one in the Rocky Mountains and the other in the Empire State. No tears, just sad smiles, as one strolls up a mountain and the other ducks down a subway staircase. The final moments belong to New York as the camera dips into the conversations of sidewalk strollers, all of them paired up in friendship, all of them processing but, possibly, progressing as well. The medium is the message and in this case the medium is friendship which can make any metropolis feel like a city without limits.
The executive producers of Broad City are Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Amy Poehler, Dave Becky, Tony Hernandez, Samantha Saifer. The producers are Lilly Burns and John Skidmore.
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