Broad City creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer once did nearly an entire episode of their show as a cartoon while their characters, Abbi and Ilana, tripped on mushrooms. This week’s premiere of the Comedy Central staple’s final season has a different format gimmick: Most of it was shot on an iPhone to resemble an Instagram (or Snapchat, or Facebook) Story. But the oddly moving and expectedly deranged saga ended up hinting that technology might be our era’s psychedelic drug of choice, for better and worse.
Not that Abbi and Ilana’s lives aren’t trippy anyway. The raunchy Brooklyn besties inhabit a world in which Kelly Ripa is a monstrous drunk and New York City’s undelivered mail is guarded by an elderly woman named “Garol.” For Abbi’s 30th birthday, the friends embark on a quest that’s not really far-fetched: walking from the “tippity top to the tippity bottom” of Manhattan on one sunny day. Along the way they have exactly the sort of experiences you’d expect of a Broad City episode. Ilana falls down a manhole. Abbi runs into an unstable friend from college who accuses her of pedophilia. Both of their phones end up destroyed. And so on!
For once, though, viewers experience this mayhem as if mediated by the characters to their friends. It’s not technically an Instagram Story we’re watching—for one thing, all the images are horizontal. But the sensibility is the same: reality augmented for greater zaniness. Ilana kisses at the camera, and little cartoon sparks fly from her lips. Emojis stick like Post-it notes to characters and objects. It’s all there: funny captions, pseudo-dramatic super-zoom effects, questions for followers (e.g., “R these the faces of pedos? YES / NO,” as Abbi and Ilana run from mall security).