On Thursday, one of the greatest shows on television aired its final episode, and it was everything. I ugly cried both during and after that finale, and I’m still not okay. Fans knew this day was coming, but ending the show was always going to be a herculean task. How do you conclude a friendship like Abbi and Ilana’s in a way that’s true to the show’s brand, but also funny and satisfying for the viewer?
Broad City has always been a series that defied expectations and definitions. Its premise seemed simple: two women living in New York. However, the key differentiator for Broad City was the electricity of the Abbi’s and Ilana’s friendship – a relationship often compared to romcoms in its intensity and emphasis on love. The Atlantic wrote an excellent article on this. The show also defied gender norms in a big way. In her book, The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Women, Anne Helen Peterson wrote:
Whereas in most shows, a character like Abbi would take on the role of Ilana’s centering force, the foil that reminds her how to behave like a good girl, in Broad City, Ilana’s dick-swinging bravado is the magnetic force: instead of shutting it down, it activates Abbi’s own swagger, pulling her past her typical timidity into a confidence usually reserved for men.
The finale worked, largely because the lead-up to it was so well done. In earlier episodes, Abbi starts to imbibe the confidence Ilana constantly pumps her up with. There’s a line in Along Came Molly, the penultimate episode, where Abbi says:
“I feel like I’ve been relying on you for like my confidence! Like, I didn’t even know my ass was DOPE until you taught me it was!”
The best friendships are ones where you evolve alongside each other, and this final season has emphasized how both characters have grown through each other’s help. Ilana discovers both her “career” path as a future therapist by helping Jaime. She also realizes that her relationship with Lincoln is good, but it isn’t right for her – and that’s okay. Abbi explored her sexuality. She also realizes that in order to truly pursue her dreams, she needs to fully commit to them even if that means moving across the country and leaving her one and only best friend. These are big life decisions but ones that almost everyone must make.
Abbi and Ilana grow constantly together and amidst incredible, hilarious, and downright ridiculous “shenanigans.” The show has also brought us along this journey, making us almost feel like the third “invisible” friend. The magic of the finale is that it celebrates their friendship but highlights the fact that sometimes, in order to grow, we need to grow separately.
This last part hit me hard. I graduated from university recently, and my friends are now scattered across the world. With the #MilennialHustle, people take on jobs in different cities, continue their education like Ilana, or just grow apart for a multitude of other reasons. A friendship like Ilana’s and Abbi’s teaches us that geographic distance isn’t the end of the world, and that the strongest friendships can last even when both parties need to travel on different paths.
In the finale, I think we all collectively swallowed the lump in our throats when Abbi and Ilana have an emotional exchange on the Brooklyn Bridge. Abbi and Ilana are a gold standard for friendship, and in their unabashed love for each other is reflected our own relationships. Supported by comedy and amazing characters, the show’s real draw is that we all want to be friends like Abbi and Ilana. Goodbyes are scary and heartbreaking which is realistically captured this episode. At the same time, goodbyes can also show us how strong our bond truly is, as seen in Ilana’s and Abbi’s FaceTime months later. The final scene visually cements this point with a slow zoom showing the other friendships in New York. While Abbi’s and Ilana’s friendship is unique, it isn’t uncommon.
I’ll need a few weeks to recover from the end of Broad City, but this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Glazer and Jacobson. Last year, Comedy Central announced a comprehensive deal with Glazer and Jacobson, extending to all of Viacom’s television networks. So far, we know of three projects that they’re working on: Mall Town USA created by Broad City’s Gabe Liedman and produced by Glazer and Jacobson, Platinum Status written by and starring Glazer’s brother with Glazer as executive producers, and Young Professionals with Glazer and Jacobson as executive producers. Abbi Jacobson is also developing a series for Amazon with Will Graham, from Mozart in the Jungle, based on 1992’s A League of Their Own. And she’ll be continuing her role as Bean on Netflix’s Disenchantment. The show was renewed for a second season, and the rest of season one is scheduled to air this year. Ilana Glazer is performing at Clusterfest in San Francisco this June. Their Broad City characters may have closed a chapter but these two are just getting started.