Saying goodbye to Broad City

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Saying goodbye to a television show you grew up with is always going to break your heart. Some characters start to feel like old friends, who you look back on your time with and reminisce, sad that there is no room for new adventures to embark on.

Now, after 10 years of audiences being engulfed in the manic energy of Broad City, we’re getting that same feeling of heartbreak after saying goodbye to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. This time though, it’s a little bit different — more than anything, it’s bittersweet. In a way, upon seeing the first half of the fifth and final season of Broad City, it’s almost nice to see Abbi and Ilana go. As the two characters are intended to be extreme exaggerations of the actresses behind them and creators of the show, the conclusions this season draws to are heartwarming more than anything else.

For those whose transition into adulthood has been marked by awkwardness and anxiety, you may have had the pleasure — the relief, even — of watching Abbi and Ilana grapple their way through the same feelings as their 20s droned on. The fifth season, though, is marked by an uncharacteristic yet soothing self-assurance. Even with their usual immaturity still in tow, they’re all grown up, out in the real world and, most importantly, reassuring their audience that all of it isn’t as terrifying as it seems.

The fifth season appropriately began with the wildly volatile Ilana’s 30th birthday, a palpable representation of her and Abbi’s clumsy, stumbling journey into adulthood finally coming to an end. What follows is loose ends being tied up and tangible signs of growth for the two women — of course, all of this is done with the same charming childishness and lack of awareness our heroines have become infamous for.

After digging up her old psychology textbooks and holding an impromptu counselling session for her roommate and his boyfriend, carefree Ilana realizes it’s not too late to go back to school and pursue her dream of becoming a therapist. In typical Ilana fashion, her only research for admission essay includes taking a Holocaust survivor to a brunch catered by drag queens.

Abbi, on the other hand, meets her match in a doctor who is equally as uncomfortable and awkward to talk to as she is. The only potential issue is that her new crush is a woman, something the Abbi we’ve gotten to know over the last four seasons would have never before considered. As a result, it’s sure to bring nothing but smiles as we watch Abbi accept her newfound feelings without even processing them.

As prior experimentations with episode format have proven, Broad City works best when the two best friends are playing off of each other — running through New York on impromptu adventures, playing wingwoman to each other at parties where they don’t belong, or even just sitting in the corner of the bus mulling over which other passengers they would eat first if they were to get stranded. The ease of Abbi and Ilana’s interactions with each other and their competing personalities makes episodes centered around their individual journeys feel lackluster in comparison to when they team up.

Yet, this season managed to start strong with multiple episodes in which the pair splits up in some of the best decisions the writers could have made. The codependent duo is, for once, not afraid to embark on life on their own. It gives the in-credits scenes of them curled up in bed telling one another about their day much more depth.

Instead of being pure experimentation, episodes like “Bitcoin and the Missing Girl” see Ilana and Abbi venture into areas they could only ever brave by themselves. Ilana getting a Matrix-inspired makeover to shill wigs made to fit phones and Abbi is presumed missing while looking for a lost sweater; they sound like plot lines to two different shows. These contrasting episodes showcase the characters’ internal growth remarkably well. They’re for anyone who’s ever sat with someone else and debated which of them is the Abbi and which is the Ilana of their friendship. Most of all, they’re the perfect note on which to end two unforgettable characters.

 

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