“Broad City” is coming to an end, with its final three episodes airing this month. Those episodes premiered at SXSW on Sunday to a packed house, and much of the audience was weeping by the end.
Onstage for a Q&A with the audience after the screening, the show’s co-creators, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, who play characters Ilana and Abbi in the show, spoke about how they’re processing the end of a significant portion of their life’s work, and how they’re looking to their own work to guide them going forward.
Originally a web series, “Broad City” was developed for Comedy Central by executive producer Amy Poehler. “Do you guys remember the web series finale with Amy Poehler?” Glazer asked the audience. In it, Poehler says, “Come on, girls, you just gotta do it, you gotta take life by the balls.” Glazer said they wrote the line because it was “what we needed to hear in real life.”
That’s always been the beauty of their show — it so often gives women (and apparently its creators, too) just what we need to hear. Amidst the humor, there’s raw truth in every scene.
From my first moments watching the web series in 2010, the realization that flawed, wild, hilarious women had never really been represented in such an authentic way was shocking. Who would have said that young white women were underrepresented in media? Not me, until these two burst onto the scene. Sure, we’d seen similar-ish women on TV, but “Broad City” has always thrown the white, cisgender, straight, able-bodied, Christian, effortlessly flawless and rail-thin goddesses of perfection trope of womanhood in the garbage. Instead, it has celebrated what is real, whether it’s pretty or not. (Often, it’s not.)
“Broad City” has helped me love and accept the woman staring back at me in the mirror so much more because it’s filled with the things women do when no one is looking, the things we edit out of our Instagram posts because we are afraid to show those parts of ourselves — we’re loath to bare our idiosyncrasies, our less-than-perfect parts, our so-called flaws.
The show addresses the attempt to balance the pursuit of our passions versus paying rent. It shows taboo sex scenes, Skyping while pooping, failure and joy and privilege and love and everything that no one in our generation will admit they are struggling with. It doesn’t hold back from criticizing the generation it portrays (nor should it), and those are some of its funniest, most self-aware moments. It’s somehow both aspirational and a primer on ‘what not to do’; it’s cringeworthy and revelatory; it’s the truest representation of female friendship I’ve ever seen, at times making me miss my states-away best friend, who first sent me a link to the web series, text-yelling, “IT’S US!”
The beauty of the final episodes is that you are in skilled hands. Yes, you will weep.
As the show ends, the question becomes: What now, for those like me who have so adored and identified with these women?
Take their own words, written in 2011 for the web series finale. “You have to take life by the balls,” Poehler’s character yells out to them as they sprint away, in hot pursuit of their next exploit. “Just go with the flow and live your dreams.”
So with a grateful Ilana-meets-Hillary-Clinton salute, we thank these two amazing women from the bottom of our hearts, and follow their example. Better for having spent the last decade with the women of “Broad City,” we can move on, grabbing life by the balls, chasing down our next adventure.