A great tragedy has fallen upon the entertainment world. “Broad City,” the innovative, unique, otherworldly comedy about two best friends taking on New York City, is coming to a triumphant end. It’s been quite an honor to spend the past five years with Abbi (Abbi Jacobson, “BoJack Horseman”) and Ilana (Ilana Glazer, “Rough Night”) on all their wondrous adventures. From the time they documented taking shrooms to the unveiling of Val, Abbi’s blackout alter ego, the entirety of “Broad City” has felt a bit like an acid trip itself. And, like all good trips, it has come to an end.
The premiere episode of the fifth and final season is documented through a series of iPhone videos taken during Abbi’s 30th birthday celebrations. The girls walk the entirety of Manhattan, from the “tippity top to the tippity bottom.” Along the way Ilana falls in a manhole, Abbi cries in a bathroom, both girls are called pedophiles and their two phones break. This is all posted to Ilana’s Instagram story — before her phone falls into the Hudson, of course — with retro stickers, polls and text pasted across the screen (“R these the faces of pedos? Yes/No”). Usually I get annoyed by laughably long Instagram stories that look like morse code spelling out P-A-Y-A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N-T-O-M-E, but every rule has exceptions.
The entire episode toes the line between seriousness and indifference — the show’s signature tone. As Abbi laments the fact she thought she’d have kids by 30, Ilana’s superimposed face makes a questioning duckface. After Ilana falls down a manhole and almost kills herself, she poses at the bottom of the swampy abyss with the text, “Fell down a womanhole…still feeling mah’ self,” stuck over the image. It is absurd, it is suffering, it is being a millennial. Everything matters, but nothing does.
This sentiment carries into the end of the episode, an end that is both touching and mildly trippy. After Ilana and Abbi witness a triple rainbow, they are first upset that neither has their phone to record it. This leads to a point of realization for our two heroines, wondering whether taking pictures and videos of their adventures and shenanigans makes for a better or worse time. I know what you’re thinking — it’s out of character for “Broad City” to take such an old-man-yelling-at-cloud stance on technology. I thought the same. Yet keep watching, and you’ll see that’s not what is happening here.
As the credits roll and an eery piano track leaks into scene, Ilana and Abbi realize they don’t remember anything about their day because they were so concerned with documenting it. They ask: if we’ve been filming ourselves for most of our lives, has any of it been real? It’s a fourth-wall break that leaves the viewer feeling as though by watching this show, they’ve somehow violated the privacy of these women. How much of “Broad City” was real? I’d say all of it. Life is bizarre. Love is hard. New York is insane. Modesty is bullshit. Your best friend is your soulmate. Nothing perfect lasts forever, and “Broad City” will come to an end. We can only hope it will be remembered.