‘Broad City’ Final Season Celebrates the Trials of Turning 30
Life is catching up with our heroines from “Broad City” as the Comedy Central delight begins its fifth and final season. In this hyper-social media era your age number is quickly becoming either an object of embarrassment or a celebration of refusing to conform. The same could be said about TV shows, which struggle to prove their worth after a certain amount of seasons. But “Broad City” kicks off its goodbye round with a charming and cheery celebration of entering your 30s, warts and all.
“Stories” is told entirely from the point of view of a cellphone as Ilana (Ilana Glazer) and Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) celebrate Abbi turning 30. Their plan is to travel all through Manhattan, from the bottom to the “tippity top.” They begin in Astoria as emojis and songs guide us through their odyssey which includes snacking, dangerous falls into manholes and adventures in the mall where a missing child reunites them uncomfortably with an old college classmate. There are stops to the outside of the Morris-Jumel Mansion and Red Rooster. As is required these days one pit stop features Ilana giving the finger to Trump Tower. Ilana has even prepared a collage of video shots over the years of Abbi’s posterior, to show off how she’s kept her figure intact. But even as they adventure with gusto, there are those inevitable, lingering thoughts in Abbi’s mind about what turning 30 means. She has a good job in anthropology, but she’s still single and unmarried. At one point she confesses she always assumed by now she would have kids. But there’s little need for the blues when you have great friends and nature graces your day with a triple rainbow.
“Broad City” has made it through five seasons as a wholly enjoyable experience because creators Glazer and Jacobson have always kept it so natural and fresh. It’s never been a show that either gets too pretentious or too whacky for its own good. “Stories” is both a celebration of the show’s main characters and a hilarious take on the way social media is everyone’s new version of a journal, except now our experiences are made fully available to the world. The cellphone technique works like a story within a story, as Ilana provides extra commentary via emojis and messages. But one of the brilliant angles in the script is how the two friends go wild with the whole birthday trip in a way that expresses the joy of being ageless. Abbi knows she’s reaching another milestone in life, but the two treat it as immaturely as possible, riding through shops and staring at school supplies. Ilana assures Abbi that sure she’s got a good job, but it’s just a stepping stone while she works to be a great artist someday. The subtly is very sharp in the way beneath all the flash and fun of the episode, the deeper meaning is hidden.
But this is “Broad City” so it’s not so metaphysical as all that. There’s great energy to the entire season premiere with the vivacious performances as Ilana falls down a manhole, Abbi pulls her out and they go looking for bandages and new shoes. The best little story comes at the mall where they find a wandering child named Gadanna. It turns out she belongs to an old college acquaintance, Cheese (Cody Lindquist), who accuses Ilana and Abbi of virtually kidnapping her kid and slams Abbi with, “grow up! We’re 30!” She’s being a complete jerk but the comment can’t help but bite at Abbi. It’s a hilarious commentary on how as we get older, we know people who “mature” while some of us just continue on as ourselves. Later on Ilia hits Cheese with an endearingly naked monologue about how they probably envy her for having a family, money and 5 kids while still looking great. A lighter scene but with some sly commentary in the dialogue is when the girls get together with Johnny (Guillermo Díaz), Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) and Johnny’s boyfriend Jaime (Arturo Castro) for a birthday brunch. It’s rowdy fun but in their video messages they reflect on aging (Johnny remembers being in his 30s when there was no social media) and when Abbi goes to the restroom, it’s really because she’s getting the birthday blues.
But “Stories” ends with a beautifully whacky closing as cell phones drop into the ocean and the two friends suddenly find themselves gazing at a triple rainbow. “Broad City” begins its final season as it has always been, full of life with all its quirks. These are still characters we enjoy watching because what is special about them is precisely that they are as normal and regular as the rest of us. But like Abbi turning 30, the show is reaching a crossroads and its creators are getting ready to move on to fresh plans. But they will be missed.
“Broad City” season five premieres Jan. 24 and airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.