Sunday, May 26, 2024

Abbi + Ilana 5Ever: Broad City’s “Friendiversary” Takes Us Back to the Beginning… Again

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Well, Kweens, we’re here. The season 4 finale of Broad City has landed, and it is every bit as weird and wonderful as you’d expect from any episode of this show. And though it’s always sad to say goodbye to a show as good as this for the year, we at least know that a fifth season is in the works (it was renewed for a 4th and 5th season at the same time), though the release date is TBA.

This episode, “Friendiversary,” fits perfectly within the legacy of Broad City season finales. They always center on the magical friendship between Ilana and Abbi, a friendship that is the source of so much comedy yet manages to be one of the deepest, most complex platonic female relationships in pop culture. It’s simultaneously funny, satisfying and unexpectedly moving to see two independent, complicated, unapologetic, and wacky women have such a deep love for each other that only occasionally borders on the romantic (and that’s pretty one-sided).

ANYWAY. Let’s talk about what actually happened this week.

This. This is what happens.

Abbi wakes up in bed to discover a truly enormous cardboard cutout of Ilana’s head next to her, with a clue taped to its mouth; it’s a scavenger hunt, and Abbi is psyched. She jumps out of bed and immediately follows the first clue while Ilana trails her. When she finds the second clue in a trash can, Ilana’s looking at her through binoculars from a rooftop. When she finds another clue in a bar (a piece of paper she has to hold to a flame to reveal the writing), Ilana is disguised as an old man at the bar who calls her a sexy bitch, among other things. She is handed another clue by a homeless man outside a pet shop with a rabbit in the window, and as she rushes off again, we see that in the rabbit bedding is Ilana with her rabbit-looking hair. Apparently at one point Abbi has to ride a horse, though we only hear about this later when she gushes to Ilana about how fantastic the scavenger hunt was. It’s over-the-top hilarious, and I’d expect nothing less.

Finally, Abbi finds Ilana at one of their haunts—a place where they like to get chicken fingers and drink cocktails out of test tubes. Ilana is sitting next to an equally huge cutout of Abbi’s head, and the two eat and drink and generally have BFF time until Ilana says, “So anyway, happy Friendversary!”


It’s no surprise that Abbi would forget this important day. Ilana is always just a little more invested in the milestones. As Abbi becomes visibly uncomfortable with the fact that she has nothing to give Ilana, Ilana pulls out a family-heirloom diamond necklace that her great grandmother swallowed as she fled the violence in her family’s shtetl “during fiddler on the roof times” and carried in her body (swallowing it multiple times after excreting it… yeah, that’s Broad City for ya) on a ship to the US. She wants Abbi to have it.

In return, Abbi pulls a face mask out of her purse and tries to tell Ilana that she nourishes her like…a face mask.

Ilana then realizes that Abbi has forgotten the Friendversary, and tells Abbi that she’s not mad, just informed. In an attempt to make it up to her, Abbi says she has a fun evening planned for them on top of the Empire State building.

When the girls get up there, it’s raining, but they try to make the best of it. They use one of those coin-operated binocular things to look over the city (NYC, again a central character). This quickly turns into spying on people in apartments instead, Rear Window-style. Between hetero sex, a clown blowing himself, and two older lesbians kissing, they’re having a great/disturbing time. Then they turn the binoculars to see a man on a balcony who looks like he’s choking a woman who he then pushes off of the balcony to her supposed death.

Time to solve a crime!

Horrified, they call 911, but when the cops come, no one can find a body or any evidence that there had been one there. So the cops leave, but just then the girls see the man whodunit walking down the street with a giant suitcase. Of course they assume that’s where the body is, so they follow him. First stop is a karaoke bar, where he ditches the suitcase in the Employees Only room and downs a huge glass of milk. Next, a movie theater where he goes to see Daddy’s Back. (I googled this and it looks like this is a Korean movie from 2016, but who knows if they intended to refer to a real movie). Anyway, Abbi reasons that this gives them 2 hours to break into his apartment and look for evidence, an idea to which Ilana and everyone watching responds, “No, bitch!” But Ilana is easily swayed by Abbi and the promise of bringing a criminal to justice, so she pretty quickly agrees.

They buy a cake that says “Happy Birthday Uncle” on it and tell the doorman of the building that they’re there to surprise their uncle for his birthday and could he please give them a key. The old man thinks they’re sex workers and readily hands one over. Because patriarchy, I guess?

Once in his very neat and clean apartment, they start to look for evidence of murder, and make up reasons why the cleaning products under the kitchen sink and the closet with women’s clothes makes this dude a sick murdering boogyman. But just then, they hear a key in the door and hide in the closet: the man is home early, bucket of popcorn in hand. He quickly notices the cake Abbi accidentally left on the counter, and pulls out a kitchen knife to look for intruders. While freaking out in the closet and calling 911 again, Ilana turns to Abbi with the best line of the season: “Abbi, I have to tell you something. This morning, I was the horse.” They declare their love for each other and it’s very sweet in an urgent kind of way.

Oh yeah, and they also stumble backward into a very lifelike sex doll named Fran.

Just then, the man—whose name we find out is Terry—opens the closet door and Abbi jumps in front of Ilana, ready to take the knife to protect her platonic soulmate. But after a little anxious yelling, it comes to light that what really happened was that Abbi and Ilana saw Terry “making love” to another sex doll aka companion and her accidental fall. He took her to the karaoke bar in the suitcase to have her repaired by the black-market sex doll hospital (like the American Girl doll hospital!) run out of there. Then he went to the movies specifically so he could get the popcorn because he’s into that. No living women were harmed.

When the same two cops show up again, Ilana defends Terry from their condescending laughter about the sex dolls by saying that maybe she would want to rub the old-man mask from her disguise earlier against her clit because it feels good, and does that make her a freak?! I love Ilana. Anyway no one presses charges and they all go their own ways.

The episode ends where the season began: on the bench in a median park, just Abbi and Ilana, talking about how weird the world is and how awesome their friendship is and all the adventures and misadventures they’ve had together. Ilana says that maybe she should take the necklace back, and Abbi is more than happy to give it. “It was a little inappropriate to give that to you,” Ilana says, “but sometimes my love for you is a little inappropriate.” It’s a sincere and lovely moment that’s followed by more sincere and lovely conversation as the camera backs away, about how much witchiness they channeled this year (cue lightning strike), and how lucky they are to have each other.

They also have each other’s heads, just in case.

And that’s it, folks, for this season of Broad City. I give the episode 4.5/5 poop diamonds, and I give the season 6/5 blue dresses.

This show, perhaps more than most, was primed to take on the current political clusterfuck, and in my opinion, it succeeded in spades. It was built on what I like to call slapstick feminism, and feminism is by necessity an evolving and multifaceted concept. This season played with subtle and not-so-subtle themes of doing better. It showed two women grappling with their privilege and fighting for reproductive, racial, and queer justice but not always doing it well, getting caught in their own struggles and triumphs along the way. They didn’t shy away from the big things at the same time that they stayed true to the utterly ridiculous slapstick/potty humor part that makes this show so funny. In some ways, it’s clear that the current political climate made this season different from the previous seasons. But in this writer’s opinion, it couldn’t and wouldn’t have been any other way.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the wild world of Abbi and Ilana’s New York Misadventures. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have! Thanks for reading, and here’s to another season of wonders, whenever that might be.

Abbi + Ilana 5Ever

All images courtesy of Comedy Central

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