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‘Broad City’ Finale: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer on the Ending That Almost Happened

The creators, writers, and stars anticipate a little backlash to the series finale, but they chose their ending because it's true to life.

Broad City finale Abbi Jacobson Ilana Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer in “Broad City”

Comedy Central

Broad City” has officially come to an end. With Thursday night’s Season 5 finale, the Comedy Central hit from Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer said an emotional goodbye to its fans, just as the characters and stars shared a heartfelt goodbye with each other. Speaking at the finale’s premiere during SXSW earlier this month, Jacobson and Glazer got to experience viewer reaction first-hand, in a sold-out theater packed with surprise guests and more than a few tears.

“I feel really privileged to have had this experience and to share it with people,” Glazer said after the screening. “How much you care is wild. You can make shit and be like, ‘It’s good,’ but this experience has been divine.”

“I’m going to cry,” Jacobson said. “The show has been the defining thing in my life so far, and I agree — I’ve felt so privileged and lucky to be able to share so much of myself and my friendship with Ilana with all of you — thank you.”

The co-creators and stars also noted how this finale felt like closing a chapter on their friendship, as both have already started pursuing more solo projects — Jacobson with her new memoir and voice work, and Glazer in stand-up and movies.

“The show was such a meta experience for us saying goodbye to us,” Jacobson said. “It was such an intense experience.”

A lot of the discussion, as tends to be the case with finales, focused on the ending itself.

[Editor’s Note: The rest of this article contains spoilers for the “Broad City” finale, Season 5, Episode 10, “Broad City.”]

Broad City Ilana Glazer series finale

Hannibal Buress, Arturo Castro, Ilana Glazer, and Paul W. Downs

Comedy Central

After Abbi (Jacobson) finally told Ilana (Glazer) she was moving out of New York to pursue an art fellowship in Boulder, CO, the finale focused on the unflappable duo’s final 24 hours together. They tried (and failed) to get one last bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich (a reference to both the first thing Abbi and Ilana talk about when meeting in the show, and Jacobson and Glazer’s first episode idea for the web series). They discovered a 10,000-dollar intelligent toilet and tried to wheel it across the Brooklyn bridge to Ilana’s apartment. Then, after what appeared to be an impromptu final goodbye overlooking the city, Ilana surprised her friend with a rooftop party with their few collective friends.

The next morning, Abbi and Ilana shared a tearful goodbye as the departing New Yorker got into her cab, then the series flashed forward four months. Chatting over the phone in a classic “Broad City” split-screen shot, Abbi is walking to her studio and Ilana heads to the subway. As she disappears down the stairs, the perspective shifts to new sets of twenty-somethings, listening in on a few conversations and acting as an invitation for fresh perspectives to continue telling the “Broad City” story for the next generation.

It’s a straightforward and moving close, with a hopeful note to end on, and the writers explained how they chose their final moments.

“[Ending now] is part of growing with your audience,” Glazer said. “It would be strangling to hold onto this beautiful, spontaneous world and these characters — we tried to capture something, and we did it. To go beyond that would be perverting it.”

“We kind of always knew, vaguely [it would end with one of them leaving New York],” Glazer said. “And we kind of always knew once they started growing, we out. […] We found [the rest] over time, too, but we had that set: when one of them leaves, [it’s over].”

“It’s so rooted in New York, it felt like what are the [other] possibilities? They could die?” Jacobson said with a laugh. “It just really felt like the show exists with the two of them, so if one of them leaves, the show can’t go on. We’re not telling that story.”

Broad City Abbi Jacobson Paul W. Downs finale Season 5

Abbi Jacobson and Paul W. Downs in “Broad City”

Comedy Central

Jacobson also explained that once their directing, writing, and producing partners Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs (who also plays Trey in the series) moved to Los Angeles, they were forced to deal with the reality of modern friendships.

“They’re our best friends, but people move away and that’s OK,” Jacobson said. “It’s just shifting what it was — things can’t stay the same forever. [With the series finale,] I get scared people will be like, ‘Of course somebody leaves,’ but that’s what happens in reality. We kind of wanted to show the Abbi and Ilana in the show still exist, just in a different way.”

This rationale also kept them from indulging a widely supported alternate ending.

“We knew it would be a Facetime at the end, and I would be in an artist’s residency, but originally Ilana was going to show up in the back of my Facetime, in Boulder, and she was going to tell her she changed schools and moved there,” Jacobson said. “And I was going to be like, ‘Dude, my artist’s residency is only four months.’ Then we’d walk away like we usually do.”

It was Glazer who first piped up in opposition to this slight twist, telling Jacobson, Downs, and Aniello she thought Ilana should stay in New York.

“There was like three seconds of silence, and I was like, ‘Nope! Never mind! JK! Totally kidding, never would do that to them or us,'” Glazer said. “So then we put it back, and it like ‘LOL,’ but we feel bigger about this show than just ‘LOL’ — it’s obviously ‘LOL,’ but it’s also in our gut, in our hearts — it is deep. […] We wanted to honor that and honor the audience.”

By exiting in graceful fashion via a quintessential episode, Jacobson and Glazer did just that. “Broad City” is bound to be a landmark for this generation of viewers, and the finale ensures a legacy they’re bound to be proud of.

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