What Broad City taught me about weed, life plans, and chosen family
Today, Comedy Central will air the very last episode of one of my all-time favorite comedies, Broad City. I know it's just a TV show, but I'm getting emotional.
Besides being a consistent source of laughter and entertainment over the past five years, Broad City — which centers on two 20-something best friends in a slightly surreal version of New York City — has played a big role in my personal life. It was among the first topics my partner and I bonded over on our earliest dates, and a shared love of the show also helped me turn a work acquaintance into a best friend.
Over the years, the three of us have won Broad City trivia, attended live shows, made Broad City-themed dinners, and given each other Broad City T-shirts, pillows and framed artwork as birthday presents. Broad City is part of our lives.
Created by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, who also star as main characters Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler, Broad City might seem like another silly stoner comedy. It is, but it's also an incredibly well-made show full of so much heart. Here are just a few of the lessons I've learned from five seasons as a fan.
Bed Bath & Beyond coupons never expire.
Abbi, the more artistic and subdued of the two leads, is deeply obsessed with Bed Bath & Beyond. (Her secret handshakes with several employees make me laugh every time.) In the show's second episode, Abbi shares a crucial lesson: Bed Bath & Beyond coupons never expire. Then why do they have expiration dates printed on them, you might ask? As Abbi explains to her roommate's terrible mooch of a boyfriend, it's "to throw idiots off."
Everybody "figures it out" at their own pace.
For most of the series, we see Abbi and Ilana carelessly romping around the city, doing just about everything they can to work as little as possible and be high as often as possible. They see people around them developing careers and starting families, but their own priorities remain mostly centered on adventures, weed, sex, and, of course, each other.
By the final season, however, we see both women beginning to take control of their career paths. Ilana decides to attend grad school to become a therapist, and Abbi applies to an artist residency in Colorado to kick-start her dream of becoming an illustrator. Abbi's new girlfriend shames her for being directionless at 30, but, as viewers, we aren't meant to judge these characters' timelines. We're just happy to see them figuring out what matters to them and how they want to make their mark on the world.
There's only one thing to do when a man tells you to smile.
Men love telling women to smile. Women wish they'd stop. Luckily, Abbi and Ilana taught us exactly what to do when this happens:
The best adventures happen when things don't go according to plan.
So many of Broad City's most entertaining episodes are based on a scheme — usually dreamt up by bold, fearless Ilana — that almost always goes completely off the rails. But because these two women love each other endlessly and savor every minute spent together, some of their best moments happen when nothing goes according to plan.
After Ilana has an allergic reaction to seafood at Abbi's fancy birthday dinner, for example, the two end up in the hospital. They spend the night cuddled in each other's arms, laughing for hours and discussing their personal bucket lists. In another episode, it's Ilana's birthday that goes completely awry, but the friends end up eating cheap pizza on the sidewalk, entirely content.
Weed maybe isn't the smartest choice after oral surgery.
In one of the show's most iconic episodes, Abbi goes on a post-surgery rampage (complete with colorful hallucinations) through a Brooklyn Whole Foods after her caretaker, Ilana, serves her a marijuana-laced milkshake alongside her pain meds:
Usually I don't judge the characters' love of weed, but maybe that wasn't the greatest choice following oral surgery — mostly because Abbi racks up a bill totaling $1,487.56 (which she puts on the second credit card she got to feel like an adult.)
Chosen families are just as important as biological ones.
As the show comes to a close and Abbi and Ilana begin to pursue separate paths, it's clear they're not just best friends. They're family. These characters have seen each other through all of life's highs and lows. They've helped each other through hard times, like when Abbi carried Ilana out of a fancy restaurant after the aforementioned allergic reaction, or when Ilana rescued Abbi after she rollerbladed into a hole in Prospect Park.
The women of Broad City admire each other. They lift each other up; they make each other laugh; and they occasionally call each other on their bullshit. They're partners, a team. They've taught me it's essential to value the friends you have, and that chosen family is real.
My chosen family and I will miss their antics when they're gone.