The Gospel of Oprah dictates that how you spend your birthday sets the tone for the year ahead.
With that in mind, the ladies of Broad City celebrate Abbi’s 30th by walking the full length of Manhattan while recording the “LITtiest” Instagram story ever. Thus the show’s fifth and final season premiere plays out in Instagram story form, a devastating reminder that social media has reduced everything — from your favorite TV show to the cute dog you saw on the street — to #content.
Abbi gears up for the trek with her yoga pants and Camelbak, while Ilana dons a sparkly two-piece and studded Philip Lim platforms courtesy of a serious Shopbop discount: “$149 at 80% off and we’re talkin’ only half a size smaller than the size I actually wear.”
The day gets off to a rocky start as Ilana trips on her platforms within seconds of leaving the apartment and the subway is delayed due to someone jumping onto the tracks — for the ‘gram, of course. This presents the perfect opportunity for Ilana to give Abbi the best gift a girl could ever ask for, a tribute video entitled “Ass of an ageless angel.” Through the lens of this work of high art, scored by Five for Fighting’s “100 Years,” we get to relive some of the duo’s highest highs and lowest lows as experienced by Abbi’s much-beloved backside.
The cross-island journey begins in Inwood, the tippity top of Manhattan (apparently), where no visit would be complete without a stop by the Morris Jumel Mansion. They don’t go in the historic house, but I googled it and just FYI it “sits on the highest point of Manhattan like Tara transplanted to 160th Street,” per the New York Times and is also allegedly very haunted. They then move on to photograph their breakfasts at the Red Rooster, where Abbi, in search of just the right angle, drops her phone into her food. This some is crushing foreshadowing if I’ve ever seen it. Trigger warning: more violence against smartphones ensues.
When breakfast is ruined by Abbi’s all too relatable experience of finding a funny Onion article only to realize it’s a real news story, the pair follows the siren song of a plumber’s crack to a woman offering hair braiding. Despite Abbi’s protests, Ilana opts for just one long braid down her back — think XL rat tail — justifying the mortifying aesthetic with the morally dubious: “A touch of cultural appropriation sheds light on the matter.”
Back on their walk, Abbi reflects on how her life measures up against what she always imagined it would be.
Abbi: “I guess I thought I’d be married with kids by now. I guess it’s good I have the job at Anthropologie.”
Ilana: “Yes! Because you know what? If you had kids they’d leave you after 18 years but Anthropologie…you might work there forever.”
Soon, the girls learn a valuable lesson when their existential dread gets pushed aside by very real dangers. Abbi gets clotheslined by a metal pole [sadly off camera] and Ilana is so giddy over this that she stops paying attention to her own steps and falls down a [wo]manhole.
Let this moment be a reminder to us all: it’s always the things you don’t see coming that get you. So why waste time worrying about your accomplishments when all you need to focus on is LOOKING UP FROM YOUR PHONE often enough to remain in the surface world? It’s called priorities. Also, I’m a grandma.
When Ilana announces that she cannot continue filming and climb out of the hole at the same time, Abbi has no choice but fulfill her destiny as Ilana’s “queen in shining honor” by climbing down and carrying Ilana out on her back. It turns out that Ilana’s ankle bore the brunt of her fall, so the pair heads to the Five Borough Pharmacy to pick up a knee scooter [puttin’ the LIT back in mobiLITy], a selfie stick, and a bandage. Next stop is the Midtown Mall where, while shopping for shoes with good arch support, Ilana asks: “How many layers of irony can we go? Skechers is selling ugly Skechers.”
After buying Ilana a pair of appropriately sized shoes and finally checking one hallmark of adulthood off her list — applying for a second credit card — Abbi finds a lost little girl. When the girl introduces herself as Gadanna, the encounter takes on a cosmic air. She is what has been missing from Ilana’s mantra all along: “Madonna, Rihanna, Ilana, Gadanna.”
Abbi and Ilana shower the girl with love and affection, but when she calls Abbi “mom,” it becomes clear that it’s time to find mall security. They find the young girl’s mom instead (it’s Cheese, Abbi’s quasi-friend from college!) and get run out of the mall when Cheese calls security and reports them for being pedophiles.
Abbi finds being labeled a pedo by Cheese just too rich: “All this girl wanted to do in college was ecstasy and take group showers — ones that I never wanted to be a part of anyways even if she would have asked me I would have never done it!”
Fueled by their indignation, the girls make it to Russ and Daughters for a proper Jewish brunch with Ilana’s sometimes love Lincoln, Jaimé, Jaimé’s new love Johnny, and Abbi’s true love — bagels. While the rest of the gang gets increasingly tipsy, Abbi steps away for a quick cry in the bathroom.
After acknowledging birthday blues — they real y’all — Abbi and Ilana finally make it to a port where Abbi is pretty sure the Titanic docked. Just when the day is finally back on track and Abbi and Ilana are joyfully recreating that spinning dancing scene from the poor-people-they-have-fun-too section of the film Titanic, the selfie stick betrays them and Ilana’s phone goes the way of the heart of the ocean.
We pick the story back up on Abbi’s phone/gram as the girls head to a Trump building to spend a few minutes flipping it off and let out a good, cathartic scream: “Everybody’s laughing at you, you f—ing clown!”
When Abby and Ilana finally reach the tippity bottom of Manhattan, they sit down to reflect on their days for the camera. And that’s when Cheese takes her vengeance, materializing out of nowhere and slapping the phone right off of their hands with such force that it shatters [redheads, amirite?!]: “If you think I’m cuckoo caca insahno, then say it to my face.” Apparently, Ilana made the attack all but unavoidable by trashing Cheese on Instagram and then geotagging her every move after that.
This is when my personal favorite exchange of the episode takes place:
Cheese [to Abbi]: “Get over yourself!”
Abbi: “Oh I’m over myself.”
Ilana: “She hates herself!”
Only after this sad but relatable fact has been acknowledged can the old fake friends have a real heart-to-heart: With Instagram as their only source of news about each other, Cheese has been envying Abbi’s shenanigans-filled life, and Abbi has been finding her own existence lacking compared to Cheese’s life, which is seemingly brimming over with kids, pizza, and cupcake parties. Ilana says what we’re all thinking: “social media is terrible” and Cheese runs back towards her minivan while screaming at one of her adorable kids.
Newly without a phone to ‘gram on, Abbi and Ilana look to the sky and find that a glorious triple rainbow has emerged. Since there’s no way to record and share said natural wonder, the pair has no choice but to simply experience it and move on.
Back home, with an icepack under food and a phone nestled securely in a bag of rice, Ilana is back on Instagram facing another perfect picture of Cheese and her brood. Abbi announces she will get rid of her social media, reflecting, “I don’t really remember any of the day.”
Abbi: “Yeah, I mean, s— it feels like because we were filming it, it’s not even our story anymore.”
Ilana: “It’s like stories’ stories.”
At least the triple rainbow is all theirs.