Hate-Watching the Girls Season Finale

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Jonathan May

Jonathan May’s original explanation and defense of hate-watching Girls can be found here. This post covers only the season finale, which aired on Sunday.

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post erroneously identified this in one instance as the series finale of Girls. It is actually the season finale. We apologize for the wishful thinking.] 

What can I say? All’s well that ends well, and end well this doesn’t. (Pro tip: Never make a Girls/Shakespeare comparison). I spent most of this disaster of an episode hating Marnie for hurting Shoshanna; I do admit that if Shoshanna hadn’t pushed Ray away, it might not have happened at all, but such is the wanton heart. I find myself thinking about the show purely in terms of the romantic engagements, which hearkens back to my theory that the show is in no way (and under no uncertain terms) a comedy, but rather a romance. But for a show all about girls, there is certainly a lot of attachment to boys.

This episode attempts to wrap up a season’s worth of false starts and prolonged miseries. Adam’s sister reappears, and tada!—she’s living with Laird, with whom she’s expecting a child. Then she promptly disappears from the plot. (Situation: resolved?) Marnie, no shocker, feels it necessary to reveal to Shoshanna that she and Ray slept together.Why she feels it necessary is beyond me. In a Western world of privilege, Marnie feels it’s her duty to unburden herself of guilt, rather than keep silent. She does this not for Shoshanna, but for herself, using the guise of truth as a way to assuage her own loneliness by bringing Shoshanna into co-misery. So, my real shocker for this episode was hating Marnie more than Hannah.

Which brings us to Hannah, unavoidably so. Her acceptance to Iowa was a trite and tawdry move on the part of the plot; Hannah lives in a world of limitless opportunity as a writer, even though we never see her writing. Comparisons to Sex and the City noted, Carrie’s main grace as the central protagonist was that the narration began and normally ended with her writing, her articles, because she was a writer. We never see any articulation or actualization of Hannah’s writing, just its end results. Where are the hard hours alone? The time spent putting together an application for a tough-to-get-into program like Iowa? We see none of that, and we’re the worse for it. Missing those moments cheapens the idea of work behind creative writing. We see Adam practicing constantly, Ray reading, Marnie singing, but we never see Hannah writing.

All in all, the episode closes with dramatic flourish typical of an inflated season of histrionics, with Hannah clutching her torn acceptance to Iowa like a sad, frumpy Vivien Leigh. Jessa’s arc throughout the season was the most interesting, and her courage in helping the photographer to end her life (and then save it) was the strongest point of the episode. Jessa makes it clear that at least some of the Girls aren’t just living for themselves.

My predictions for next season: We open in media res after something (?) happens to Hannah at Iowa, forcing a return to Brooklyn. Jessa has finally found herself. Adam is wildly successful. Marnie does something better with her hair. Shoshanna leaves the drama behind.

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com.

Image source: Grantland

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