‘Broad City’ Series Finale: Ilana and Abbi Capture the Bittersweet Feeling of Saying Goodbye
The series finale of “Broad City” captures the very essence of how sad it is to say goodbye. This is a highly transitional generation, possibly more so than others, when people migrate all around the country due to work and opportunity. And so it happens to the two heroines of this great comedy, as one of them must leave and the other is inevitably left behind. The entire episode has the tone of how we have all felt driving someone to an airport or waving goodbye on a street corner.
Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) is leaving for Colorado to live in an artist residency. It is the final day she and Ilana (Ilana Glazer) will spend together going about their antics and adventures around New York City. It begins typically enough with Ilana frustrated they can’t find a place still serving Abbi’s favorite breakfast sandwich (even after trying to flirt with a deli clerk). They even find a fancy, abandoned high tech Asian toilet. They roll it across the Brooklyn Bridge. But beneath the surface, the two know they feel the tension of having to part ways. Ilana struggles the most with putting on a brave face, while Abbi also tries to hold in the emotions. These two have not just been friends, but life lines.
“Broad City” says goodbye in the same fashion that it first introduced itself. Since premiering in 2014, it has always felt like a refreshing blast of real life. With Jacobson and Glazer as showrunners, every episode felt being allowed to hang out with two real pals, experiencing all of life’s strange quirks. The finale does something smart in slightly toning it all down. Yes, there are still antics here, like the bit with the toilet, or the search for breakfast. But the overall spirit is of winding down, like the ticking clock before departing. While there are still some great and wicked jokes, there are more moments devoted to Abbi and Ilana looking out at the ocean, and opening up. “I mean, I don’t even feel like I was like alive before I met you. You like taught me, taught me how to do it,” says Abbi as the two view an early morning sky. Many of us have lived through exactly such a moment. We are aware that now every time they do their routine in this episode, it’s for the last time. When Abbi films Ilana with a phone as Ilana rants about Mickey Mouse possibly representing a Jewish stereotype, among other topics, there’s a particular sadness to it. That’s part of the enjoyable style of this finale, that it avoids big, twist-filled send offs. It understands that it feels sad to see a friend go, and that’s ok.
Ilana throws a rooftop party which allows some of the other regulars to say adios as well. Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) shows up to give Abbi a final hug, and Ilana even invites random people from the building to fill out the festivities. But most of the episode is really about the two friends as they promise to meet in St. Louis, or talk endlessly about how cool Colorado actually is, which might just be a way of coping with the melancholy. “Broad City” always understood that true friendships are a form of genuine love. This onscreen friendship never struck a false note. In one scene Ilana says, “But this is still going to be the most beautiful, deep, real, cool and hot, meaningful, important relationship of my life.”
The final scene is one of the warmest farewells a comedy has pulled off in recent memory. Abbi and Ilana, now separated, talk on the phone in split-screen, one in Colorado, the other still in New York. The camera then pulls back in New York as Ilana disappears from frame and we follow other women and their friends, talking about different concerns, experiences and general chat topics. The final message seems to be that friendships, genuine ones, are something truly special in life. They can survive even our need to move at times, and we can always make new ones.
“Broad City” series finale aired March 28 at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.