From the very beginning, Broad City charged onscreen with as much bawdy confidence as its heroines. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson know these heightened versions of themselves so well at this point that their very first season on television felt effortless where many comedies still struggle years into their runs. That level of confidence translated into a season that wasn’t afraid to play with its format, like with the surreal journey to North Brother Island in “Working Girls,” or the sharp back and forth editing in “Stolen Phone” that sold the broads’ frantic determination to score Facebook dates. Instead of laying out Abbi and Ilana’s hopes and dreams, Broad City moved straight on to building masterfully layered jokes, a production team with a deft eye for detail, and most importantly, a rich world full of even richer characters. Glazer and Jacobson dipped into a well of talent they knew well through the Upright Citizens Brigade, the most fun of which include Hannibal Buress’ wide-eyed dentist Lincoln, Morgan Grace Jarrett’s tightly-wound incest enthusiast, and writer Paul Downs’ zen trainer. In a refreshing twist, Broad City shows more restraint with guest stars that the audience has a better chance of knowing. Producer and “Last Supper” director Amy Poehler leaves us wanting more when her ornery chef character never crosses Abbi and Ilana’s path. In earlier episodes, Fred Armisen and Amy Sedaris’ scenes let them give their typically surreal performances, but cut them off before the joke wore thin; Rachel Dratch and Janeane Garofalo were straight-up straight women.
All that said, it still feels fitting that this first season finale gets back to basics and focuses on Abbi and Ilana as a twosome, even if the episode as a whole feels smaller than we’ve grown accustomed to since they kept raising the bar for sprawling chaos all season. Abbi’s father is sponsoring a fancy prix-fixe dinner for her twenty-sixth birthday. Ilana’s never even gotten to work in a restaurant that nice, so it’s only fitting that they both break out their “Fattest Asses” formalwear (i.e. Abbi’s expensive boutique dress and Ilana’s sweeping hair extensions). It’s also fitting that it’s just the two of them. As we’ve learned time and time again, they would rather spend time with each other than anyone else, whether it’s over a decadent “seafood turducken” at Octavia or over Skype with pizza and a vaporizer. Most of “Last Supper” is spent at their table, which is nothing special, even if it’s the same one Jay Z and Beyoncé used. Watching Abbi and Ilana banter is often enough, but they still throw in a couple jarring curveballs for good measure. First, Ilana’s blotchy skin forces her to admit that she sometimes lives “on the edge” by rationing out how many shellfish portions she can take before her face swells to Stay Puft levels. Meanwhile, Abbi has a horrifying condom incident that I have to believe either happened to someone in the writers’ room or is yet another urban myth I get to fear. Either way, though, the execution is alternately a lot of fun and completely alarming. There’s the plop sound effect that cuts to Abbi’s point of view of the floating condom in the toilet, then Abbi furiously informing the guy she slept with that “something fell out of me, so I have to go deal with that now,” followed by said guy informing her that he was never wearing a condom anyway, so there had to have been an older condom stashed away inside her person. Ilana’s reaction is spot-on from what we already know of her. She gets over her surprise that something so twisted happened to Abbi before it happened to her within a few seconds of hearing the story. In fact, the only problem Ilana has with this whole situation where Abbi peed out a condom is when Abbi updates her with the fact that she had unprotected sex. It’s perfectly in character for Ilana to care less about the gross details than the ones that compromise an otherwise promising sexual encounter, but it doesn’t make it less funny when she demands that Abbi provide dick pics prominently featuring condoms to prove that these dudes are good enough to sleep with the love of Ilana’s life.
There are a couple of scenes outside Octavia’s dining room that address one of Broad City’s greatest strengths—sneak attack gender reversal. The cold open has Abbi and Ilana creeping on a pick-up basketball game. They start off ranking the players on what seems like the traditional scale from one to ten of attractiveness, until Abbi realizes that Ilana’s been scoping their silky basketball shorts out for penis size the entire time. Instead of bridling at this measure, Abbi wholeheartedly embraces it, and soon they’re both drooling through the chain-link fence. They only get a few moments of bliss, however, before one of the players jogs over to inform them that their incessant staring is making the guys feel uncomfortable. Abbi and Ilana look at each other, shrug, and say “seven,” in remorseless unison as they walk away. Besides for the two of them playing off each other to pervy perfection, the wink of this scene is that we’ve seen it a thousand times before—we’re just used to seeing the creeps be dudes. The other gender reversal happens in the Octavia kitchen, and is a tad subtler than women eyeballing men’s junk. Amy Poehler is the curt head chef that has no patience for her boyfriend (Seth Morris), who just happens to be her headwaiter. She calls him “a crazy person.” He grabs the food and snaps that she’s a “giant baby.” They’re small lines, but I’m so used to seeing alpha males snipe that women are acting crazy while tightly-wound women call men babies that seeing the reverse was enough to catch my attention.
In the end, though, it all comes back to Abbi and Ilana. The show relies on their steadfast, shameless friendship to be its center, and rightly so. Even when a joke doesn’t quite land, Abbi and Ilana are having so much fun together as both characters and actors that it’s hard not to laugh with them, anyway. The final few scenes of the season are then exactly what they should be—an ode to Abbi and Ilana’s friendship. After Abbi accidentally stabs herself with the EpiPen, she scoops the practically unconscious Ilana into her arms and sweeps her out of the bar Officer and a Gentleman style. (Abbi Jacobson’s physical comedy has been a joy all season, but the highlight here is Ilana’s lolling head managing to knock over a series of drinks like dominos.) Then it cuts to the hospital, where Ilana’s face has mostly deflated, and Abbi’s hand has been bandaged up from the wine glass she smashed in her literal adrenaline rush. They’re sharing a hospital bed, their bucket lists, and a to-go order of molten lava cake. It’s such a lovely moment that not even the dead man lying ten feet away can ruin it. We then get our final glimpse of Abbi and Ilana this season when they stumble out of the hospital and recap the night. Poehler tracks them with a patient, uninterrupted shot down the sidewalk towards the camera, and then cuts to them walking away. It hardly matters that they’re not talking about anything more significant than who’s at the top of their “gross sex lists” (the grossest person Abbi would sleep with is OJ Simpson, while Ilana is currently digging the Six Flags mascot). What matters is these brassy broads’ unwavering love for each other, and the fact that they can pee out a condom one night and laugh about it the next. If that’s not an accurate depiction of friendship, I don’t know what is.
It’s been so much fun reviewing this show—thank you to everyone who read, and contributed to an increasingly active and thoughtful comments section.
As they leave to get high, Abbi asks the establishment couple next to them to make sure no one takes their clams like they're asking them to watch their laptops.
It must be said that I can’t believe this show got away with saying half the shit it did, especially tonight’s dozen iterations of “the condom was up inside me” and Ilana’s bucket list goal of “being able to squirt.”
Again with the awesome details: Doug spends the entire phone call polishing his collection of Buddy Holly glasses.
Somehow, Abbi’s first sexual crush being the Tramp and Ilana’s being Stimpy all makes perfect sense.
Abbi’s bucket list: own an elliptical, go to a pug farm, do heroin under the Aurora Borealis.
Some Ilana-isms for the road: "Why wouldn't we be rating them on dick size?!" "Nose, vagina, butthole. If God didn't want us to put our fingers there, why did she make them all perfectly finger-sized?" "Hey, it's 2014. Anal's on the menu."