Broad City premiered on Comedy Central in 2014, introducing the world to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the hilariously odd pair of best friends and self-proclaimed “kweens” that we didn’t know we needed. Jacobson and Glazer created Broad City and star in the show as characters based on exaggerated versions of themselves, also named Abbi and Ilana. In the world of Broad City, every day is a misadventure set in the strange playground that is New York City, every task an impossible mission to be tackled by two. Season 1 established the characters’ dynamic, and in Season 2 their schemes became even more absurd. So far in Season 3—Episode 5 aired on March 16th—the ladies are getting into similar slapstick hijinks, but something important has changed: not all of their adventures are happening together anymore. In this way, Abbi and Ilana are growing out of their conjoined duo and into themselves. The broads are growing up.
Broad City, Season 3, Episode 2, "Co-op"
Broad City’s Ilana is an outspoken weed enthusiast who is in touch with her body and wants to do everything and everyone except work. She technically has a job at a startup called Deals! Deals! Deals!, but Ilana shows up every other day, sleeps in the bathroom stall, and comes into the office in various states of undress. Abbi is a dreamer who works as a cleaner and eventually a trainer at a trendy gym in Queens called Soulstice (sound familiar?). Her boss is an eccentric trainer named Trey (Paul Downs) who uses the catch phrase “Bazinga!” and has a photo of Zach Braff pasted in his locker. Abbi aspires to make a living at an illustrator, but she is tired of cleaning up “unprecedented” pube situations in the locker room. Together, Abbi and Ilana are an inseparable duo—your modern Laverne and Shirley, your human Ren and Stimpy; maybe Trey would measure them up to Zach Braff and Christopher Turk in Scrubs. They are in many ways opposites but somehow fit together and are impossible to pull apart.
One of the most memorable misadventures of Season 1 is in Episode 6, “Stolen Phone,” in which the broads venture around Manhattan in search of Abbi’s iPhone, which holds her new crush’s phone number. We watch them enlist the help of drunk New Yorkers, flash people in Central Park, and stop by at Ilana’s lust interest’s painfully bad improv show along the way. It’s a classic day for the odd couple: a mundane problem explodes into a wild ride of unexpected obstacles that the ladies willingly throw themselves into. And somehow, everything that goes wrong is exactly what makes for a great day in the lives of Abbi and Ilana, taking on the impossible scale of New York City as if they were challenged to do so. This is the kind of tag-team adventure viewers got used to in Seasons 1 and 2, but this season the dynamic has shifted.
Broad City, Season 3, Episode 3, "Game Over"
“Game Over,” Season 3, Episode 3, marks a turning point in Abbi and Ilana’s friendship and their respective careers. At work, Ilana is given a new and exciting responsibility: managing the Deals! Deals! Deals! Twitter account, a task she feels more than confident handling. Meanwhile, Abbi participates in her first “Soulstice Games,” an Olympic-style bonding event for the trainers at her gym. She attempts to both fit in with the trainer clique and hide her over-competitive rage, a problem Abbi has been struggling with ever since a red rover game went awry back at summer camp. The broads go about each of their workdays and the first time we see them together is halfway through the episode, when Ilana shows up at the Soulstice Games to half-nelson Abbi, jolting her out of her rage state. Abbi goes on to smash her coworker’s face with a pugil stick; Ilana goes on to tweet a bestiality video from the Deals! Deals! Deals! account—what she thinks of as a genius way to promote colonics. Each character is testing the boundaries of what she can do on her own, making a name for herself outside of their conjoined identity. Neither Abbi nor Ilana is successful in this episode—they do almost everything wrong—but that doesn’t mean they are not growing. Growing up requires taking steps in the wrong direction before you find the right ones. It’s about doing things differently than you did before, and in the case of this show, Abbi and Ilana are changing by doing things on their own.
Broad City, Season 3, Episode 3, "Game Over"
The hijinks of Broad City Season 3 are as absurd as ever, but the characters’ circumstances have changed. It’s not so easy to spend ample time together anymore. Near the end of “Game Over,” Abbi is forgiven for her violent incident and she’s accepted into the Soulstice trainer clique. Ilana, on the other hand, returns to her office to find co-workers crying and vomiting in trashcans, horrified by her graphic tweet. Her boss finally gets the courage to fire her, something that longtime Broad City viewers never expected to happen, but also seemed inevitable. Ilana’s co-workers celebrate the glorious occasion of her dismissal with a fantasized 90s song-and-dance sequence featuring Whoopi Goldberg in her nun costume from Sister Act (1992): a perfectly ridiculous way to signify change in the series.
Broad City Season 3’s Abbi and Ilana are the same duo—the same Zach Braff and Christopher Turk in Scrubs (2001)—but their misadventures are different. Episode 3 ends with the pair sharing a bed, watching the grainy Youtube video of Abbi’s red rover incident from back in 2002, laughing. In the video, she runs across a field screaming and ferociously bites her opponent’s arm. In this way, not so much has changed. Abbi and Ilana might have to forge their own paths and solve their own problems as they continue to grow, but they will always be together at the end of the episode to lie in bed and laugh.