Spoilers ahead for Wednesday night’s episode of Broad City.
Is there anything more simultaneously thrilling and heartbreaking than your best friend entering a new relationship? The knowledge that they’re happy tempers the fact that they are going to be slightly less available to you, and if and when it falls apart, the sadness and anger of watching your best friend get hurt is lessened by a secret excitement that they’ll be back at full friendship capacity.
Unless, of course, you’re Ilana Wexler, in which case your best friend entering a new relationship might as well be the end of the world. And on tonight’s Broad City, we get a fairly clear indicator that this is where things are headed. At the end of the episode, Abbi calls on Trey to stay over with her when she fears that the hot French thief who had been renting her apartment may return. Trey shows up in full Ghostbuster mode, ready to take on whoever may be hiding under Abbi’s bed, and the two end up having sex. Were Trey going to be just a hookup, there’s no question that Abbi would have spilled everything to Ilana, but instead, she skirts the issue.
Ilana’s been a huge cheerleader for Abbi’s sexual exploits, but she’s also made clear her conviction that she and Abbi are soulmates, and her relationship with Lincoln has always taken a backseat to Abbi’s needs. The fact that Abbi’s so reticent to tell Ilana about the recent developments with Trey hints that Abbi may see the writing on the wall: A boyfriend would change everything. It also illustrates the totally understandable reality that Trey is a kind of embarrassing choice for a boyfriend. Abbi and Ilana have spent a lot of time secretly (and not so secretly) making fun of him, his relentless enthusiasm, and his somewhat sordid past as pool-noodle connoisseur Kirk Steele. He calls painting “drawing with paints,” and is the kind of guy who thinks “.biz” is a solid way to end a URL. He’s not exactly the boyfriend you’d want to take home to meet your parents (though, oh man, would I love to see Paul W. Downs and Tony Danza together in a scene), much less your jealous best friend-cum-life-partner.
But Trey as Abbi’s boyfriend is a genius move on the show’s part, not just because of the comedic opportunities it will open up, but also because it both comes out of left field and seems somewhat obvious when you think about it for more than two seconds. Trey would actually be a good partner for Abbi. He’s earnest and high-energy in a way that former jam band die-hard Abbi has increasingly become. He has a steady job he appears to be passionate about, and though he’s not the brightest crayon, he seems to be fairly emotionally stable. His concern for Abbi’s well-being is not only downright adorable, it’s a concern Abbi could use a little more of in her life. She’s the kind of person who would freely text personal information to a stranger staying in her apartment, even knowing that her birthday is the combination to her safe. Trey isn’t exactly a paragon of common sense, but it’ll be nice for her to have someone a little more rational than Ilana or Bevers in her corner, and it’ll be good for Trey to have someone to prevent him from being too much of a self-involved jock. Plus, they’re both sexually open-minded, and Broad City is a show that values relationships that set their own boundaries and rules without feeling pressured by the mores of the mainstream world.
Given that this is a relationship with long-term potential, it raises a lot of questions the show hasn’t addressed before. What happens when Abbi and Ilana can’t be there for each other? How does a dynamic that functions so much like a romantic partnership work when an actual romantic partnership enters the picture? Broad City still feels fresh three seasons in, but shaking up the core relationship of the show this way is a smart move. It not only gets out ahead of any potential lagging that the show could experience, but it also seems like a way for Broad City to explore the reality that the little bubble Abbi and Ilana have built for themselves can’t, and won’t, last forever. As the show gets older, so do its writers and characters, and introducing such a significant disruption to the status quo seems like a great way to challenge the maturity of everyone involved.