Hats Off To Broad City For Not Making Abbi's Coming Out A Thing

Photo: Courtesy of Comedy Central.
Warning: Spoilers for Broad City season 5 are ahead.
The fifth episode of Broad City's final season changed things for Abbi in a major way — one that actually mirrors her own life. Both she and her character Abbi Abrams date men and women, something she revealed rather nonchalantly during a recent interview. And much like Jacobson IRL, Abbi's own coming out on Broad City was quiet and understated.
The scene, while technically full of new information for viewers, simply felt like Abbi has always been this way (which, she has, because that's how sexuality works). The only thing that changed was that she was presented with an opportunity to explore that truth about herself.
Of course, the way the opportunity arises is, in Broad City fashion, not so nonchalant: Abbi falls and hits her face at a fancy art world party and winds up in the hospital. Fortunately, she's being taken care of by a "hot doctor" who just happens to be a woman. The doctor asks if Abbi's girlfriend was the one who brought her in. "No, I don't have a boyfriend… or, or a girlfriend," Abbi responds. You can see in that second of hesitation that Abbi is maybe realizing something about herself and her sexuality, but it's mostly a private moment just for her.
The episode doesn't have any giant coming out moments after that.
Even when Abbi later tells Ilana about what happened the hospital, she doesn't declare anything about herself or make some big speech. She simply mentions that she asked the doctor out after she realized "the only reason I wasn't automatically asking them out was because she was a woman."
Even better is the way Abbi's BFF responds to the casual reveal. Ilana apparently feels a bit left out but, to her credit, doesn't ask any offensive questions like, "Wait, you're gay now?" or something about why Abbi had chosen to explore that route with the doctor and not with Ilana, who has quite obviously been halfway pining for Abbi throughout the series. Ms. Wexler very clearly doesn't like sharing Abbi's time or attention (evidenced by her pout during this scene), but she doesn't make the moment about anything else other than supporting Abbi, respecting Abbi's privacy enough not to pry, and just letting Abbi leave the conversation where she wants.
This quiet coming out is pretty similar to how Jacobson herself came out to the public in a 2018 Vanity Fair interview. "I kind of go both ways; I date men and women,” she casually mentioned. And after further writing about her sexuality in her book I Might Regret This, she told the New York Times that she felt inspired to write such a storyline for the show's version of Abbi. "Abbi’s not the fumbling idiot we’re used to seeing, trying to ask someone out. It feels more real," Jacobson said of the scene with the doctor. "She knows how to ask somebody out, and she wants to. It’s fun to see that."
Ilana Glazer, who plays Ilana (duh) on the series, praised the coming out moment as "completely sincere" in the same NYT interview. And that's exactly how it feels. The fact that Abbi also dates women is just who she is, so rather than offer some big very special episode moment, Broad City is simply allowing the audience to see that side of her.
That's it.
While loud, big, attention-grabbing coming out scenes also have their place on television and in media, good representation — for any group — means having a range experiences accounted for. For this character (and the real woman behind her), a quiet coming out is way more representative of her experience than anything else would be. The show stayed true to Abbi by letting her have her moment quietly, and mostly inside her own head. As a result, viewers mostly see the confidence with which she begins to explore this side of herself: That she simply asked the doctor out, and they set a date to meet up. As this story develops on Broad City, viewers will get to understand this part of Abbi even more, but all that really matters is that Abbi seems to understand it herself, and that she now has the space to be who she's clearly always been.

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