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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Broad City rolls down memory lane in its hilarious, poignant penultimate episode

Illustration for article titled Broad City rolls down memory lane in its hilarious, poignant penultimate episode
Image: Broad City (Comedy Central)

Broad City always brims with callbacks, a testament to its makers’ improvisation backgrounds, the specificity of its world, and the inside-jokey nature of its central friendship. But in this final season, those callbacks have an extra layer of nostalgia to them, each beat of this final chapter soaked in familiar, comforting bits and jokes.


That doesn’t mean it hasn’t lost its ability to surprise. In fact, the final season has taken big narrative swings as it sends Abbi and Ilana off, daring to break up this beautiful friendship in the hopes that it might evolve into something else. “Along Came Molly,” the series’ penultimate episode, is even more deliberate than the rest in its nostalgia. But the episode is much more than just a walk down memory lane or an ode to its fans. It both touches on the past while also blowing it up. It’s the end of Broad City, and it’s also the end for Abbi and Ilana’s time together in New York within the show.

Broad City didn’t have to get real about Abbi and Ilana’s codependency and about the importance of personal growth. And yet, it’s going there in full-force. Ilana continues to not handle the impending separation well, attempting to hide it as best she can. Meanwhile, her nose literally bleeds at the thought of losing Abbi, and she apparently Googled the exact distance to Boulder. Broad City isn’t pulling any punches with how much this hurts and how significant it is for both characters.

It’s a really bold way to end the series, one that allows the show to get somewhat meta and reflective about its own conclusion. The very conceit of this show hinges on Abbi and Ilana’s codependency. It thrives on it. By finally making its characters more aware of it and subsequently making a change, Broad City is sort of exploding its own narrative. It’s cool, smart, and meaningful. And it manages to be all those things while also being very funny and firmly rooted in the show’s voice.

Because this is Broad City, the walk down memory lane is one fueled by molly, scored by Lil Wayne, and distorted by twists and turns of the Abbi and Ilana variety. In other words, the usual high-jinks ensue. They never make it to the Lil Wayne concert, because Abbi bought bad tickets off of Craigslist. While several episodes resurface in “Along Came Molly,” it most often echoes “Pu$$y Weed,” which I’m especially grateful for, because I still consider it one of the finest episodes the show has ever done. In fact, I often show it to Broad City newbies before even showing them the pilot because frankly it’s better.

The episode’s climax comes when they finally give up on trying to get into the concert and just resolve to throw their own Lil Wayne concert in some dirty New York alleyway. Amid twerking while rolling, they end up having the most emotionally complex and poignant conversation they’ve ever had. In this moment, they realize their codependency, which hilariously highlights just how symbiotic they are, since they arrive at this conclusion with the help of each other. Here, Broad City also infuses deeper meaning in some of its most frequent recurring bits, like how obsessed Ilana is with Abbi’s ass. To Abbi, that actually does mean something. She doesn’t know how to love herself outside of Ilana, who supplies her with endless confidence.


“It sucks. But also, it doesn’t. It’s gonna be great,” Ilana says, in a full embrace with Abbi. Abbi agrees, but it’s clear she’s trying to convince herself, that she still isn’t quite certain what the future holds. But that’s the thing: While it’s almost the end for Broad City, it’s not necessarily the end for Abbi and Ilana. They have to go their own ways for now, but the hope in trying to detangle a codependent relationship is that space will provide clarity, independence, and growth (something I’m intimately familiar with after loads of couples therapy in my life).

As I’ve written before, I think it’s smart and also somewhat revolutionary that Broad City applies a lot of the complications and details of romantic relationships to this friendship. These are storylines we don’t often get to see unfold in the context of a platonic relationship, but they resonate just as deeply, touch on things that people in real life are even afraid to acknowledge or discuss. But true friendships do have a lot in common with romantic relationships. This is very much a breakup—or, more accurately—a break. The hope is that they can grow on their own and then maybe grow together. Because they were both stifling each other, regardless of how much love they got and gave. That alleyway hug, long and hard, is devastating and beautiful all at once, a cathartic release. It’s time for something new, and that message has meaning beyond the story of the show. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are moving on to new things, too. They can’t live in Broad City forever.


Stray observations

  • I was secretly hoping for Fred Armisen’s creepy character to actually make a cameo, but all we got was a shoutout.
  • If this week is any indication, I’m going to just cry my way through the entirety of next week’s series finale. I already had to rewatch several parts of this episode because I was distracted by my own tears.
  • Ilana bringing the mood down with all of her facts about horrific things that have happened in NYC during the cold open is very funny...and also, I might be that friend sometimes.
  • Jacobson and Glazer’s acting during the molly comedown is visceral.
  • Have I mentioned I’m emotional about this show ending?