When I first watched “Broad City,” I laughed until I cried.
It was my first year in New York City, and one episode after another lovingly lampooned my new home. “Broad City” played like a documentary of living in New York: the travel saga of going to a fancy out-of-town wedding, taking your mom to Canal Street to shop for fake purses and running away from whatever horrors were hiding in an empty subway car.
Sadly, that run is coming to an end. Like so many others just passing through Manhattan, “Broad City” will pack up and leave after five seasons.
Their misadventures could be funny or absurdly relatable. Anyone who has ever tried to park in New York City knows that it’s a fool’s errand, which is what happens to the duo after they bring a car from Florida. They gave us permission to laugh at their bad dates and our own unpleasant nights on dating apps.
Like “Girls,” “Broad City” had no shame in discussing awkward sex and the importance of not putting dildos in the dishwasher, as Abbi learned the hard way after accidentally warping her date’s toy. Things might have been rough, even hopeless in the career and romance departments, but it doesn’t define them or their relationship with each other. Their problems rolled off their backs and into whatever joints they smoked or parties they crashed together.
That carefree spirit also made it seem like we were laughing with them, and not down at them. Their fans were invited in on their jokes. During one memorable scene from Ilana, she said “Yas qween” to a little boy’s accomplishment. The moment earned a life outside of “Broad City,” quickly becoming a meme and gif on social media.
Even during the darker episodes of Season 4, which dealt with further financial disappointments and the Trump presidency, their relationship stood strong. Their version of feminism may have had its “problematic” moments, but it was a chance for Abbi and Ilana to learn from their mistakes. Their characters are flexible and outrageous enough to adapt in a way their contemporaries in “Girls” never quite managed. The security in their friendship even in troubled times is a version of security we all crave.
“Broad City” may be remembered as a kind of antidote to “Girls,” but Abbi and Ilana’s friendship falls in line with many on-screen sisterhoods. From TV shows like “Golden Girls” and “Sex and the City,” to the New Yorkers of “Frances Ha” and “Girlfriends,” their camaraderie makes them inseparable even when they have their own adventures. They are the “Thelma and Louise” who went from driving off a cliff to escape the cops to fighting off bedbugs and crummy boyfriends. They’re an update to “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” a pair who isn’t obsessed with impressing others. You believe Ilana’s ridiculous long-term plans with Abbi will happen, even if they can’t figure out anything else in their lives.