Bye bye Broad City: thank you kweens you’re the best in the wizness

Abbi and Ilana have given us the greatest possible sendoff after five years of high jinx and a breakup to rival Ross and Rachel in TV heartbreak history

Broad City knew it was time to grow up and move on. Towards the end of its fifth and final season, Abbi is given The Talk by her new girlfriend, Leslie, a woman mature enough to have hobbies. You dont really feel like an adult yet. And Im sure your life is fun, but its really just kind of a series of wild shenanigans, Leslie tells her, talking not only to Abby but to Broad City itself. Abbi is, naturally, offended. She is also wearing a T-shirt decorated with neon cartoon fruit, and ends the episode sandwiched between two buildings, hanging upside down, reaching for her phone to call Leslie for help.

They have given fans five years of the highest jinx, but as Broad City comes to an end, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have served up reminder after reminder of what was so fresh and vital about their creation when it began, first as a web series, then as one of the silliest and most surreal comedies to explode on to our screens, in 2014. After a fourth season dip, when it seemed hamstrung by real-world frustrations and too eager with a celebrity cameo (RuPaul is many things, but his acting is not on a par with his wit), the show has returned to its roots. Abbi and Ilana are still careering around New York, still inappropriately dependent on one another, and still trying to make a bit of money in a city that only ever seems to drain it from them. This season has given them the best possible send-off, by showing them in their most flattering light. It has been joyful, silly and wild, as all the best episodes of Broad City are, and while it feels like the perfect and necessary time for Abbi and Ilana to wrap up their adventures, it is poignant that theyve done so by reminding you just how good those can be.

Sure, lets take a sofa to see Lil Wayne … Broad City. Photograph: Comedy Central

This renewed business-as-usual or should that be wizness-as-usual approach has given it a final shot of adrenaline. The opening episode played out entirely on social media, and it was as innovative as it was hysterical, as yet another journey around Manhattan ended in mild, non-threatening disaster. It established early on that Broad City was not about to slump its way to the finish line. Abbi found her way into the social hub of her dream career in art, though accidentally ended up waitressing at it, too, and then she fell over. Ilana persisted with her Phone Wigs project (which had shades of Absolutely Fabulous Pop Spex venture), and built a female-run smoking-friendly workspace on the hot summer streets, made entirely from foraged junk. Bingo Bronson, who once took Abbi on a drug-assisted shopping spree in Whole Foods to my mind, the moment the show truly hit its stride made a reappearance as the duo attempted to see Lil Wayne one last time. Naturally, it all went sideways.

Its Bingo Bronson! … Broad City. Photograph: Matthew Peyton/Comedy Central

Alongside those hallucinogenic flourishes, Broad City has always been strong on the reality of city life. It is expensive, and its tough, and it can be fleeting, as people come and go. Abbi was a cleaner for much of the series, and Ilana jumped from gig to gig. They werent living a Friends-style charmed life in rent-controlled penthouses; they were trying to make ends meet, and more often than not, falling flat on their faces. But they kept bouncing back, from knock after knock, and its sheer life-is-for-grabbing optimism was often irresistible.

Broad City rarely surprises with its quick ability to hit gag after gag, and to deftly knot all the strands of chaos together to create a perfectly bananas ending. It is easy to take such craftsmanship for granted. But quietly, it has cultivated an affecting emotional backbone. As Leslie points out, their youthful fecklessness might not always be so charming, and both Abbi and Ilana find themselves dealing with a growing realisation that their precarious existence cannot last forever. For Ilana, its a question of commitment when Lincoln (the always excellent Hannibal Buress) asks her to consider children and marriage, she turns him down, because she doesnt want to leave New York, or Abbi. But Abbi is finding her own way through her art career, and makes choices that hasten their breakup. They might not be romantically involved, much to Ilanas disappointment, but this is a breakup story, and its up there in TV heartbreak history with Ross and Rachel, or Angel and Buffy. If prolonged adolescence has been the driving force behind Broad City, behind its untamed, buoyant swagger, then its swansong is their belated, inevitable arrival at the door of adulthood even if they do get there cradled in the big, blue, imaginary arms of Bingo Bronson.

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