When it first started, Girls was automatically compared to Sex and the City, mainly because it was about four female friends in New York. And really that’s where the similarities, for the most part, end. All season, our characters have been messy and aimless, desperate for things that they seemingly cannot attain. And that process has been rife with ugly, rotten situations, and depressing, humiliating sex that has no place in the alternate reality of Sarah Jessica Parker’s show. But last night’s show—the season finale—veered into rom-com territory.
After her Q-Tip incident last week, Hannah start this show still not doing any better. Her hearing is messed up. She’s still wearing the same gross t-shirt. After one of the most depressing Google search blackholes ever (the phrase “Normal Tongue” has never sounded so sad), Hannah’s e-book editor calls her because she still hasn’t turned her pages in. Instead of explaining the situation rationally (probably something she should have done a while ago), Hannah makes excuses but is startled when David won’t give much leniency. It turns out she really does need to get her work done: the publisher gave her an advance that they can sue her to re-pay. Curling back into her bed, Hannah almost maniacally utters to herself, “I’m going to write a book in a day.”
Hannah calls her dad for help. She asks him if he’ll give her the money for the advance so she can have more time. He refuses, telling Hannah he feels manipulated by her. Her dad is concerned that Hannah’s tenedncy to invent reasons to skip school as a child has lasted her whole adult life.
But then Marnie ends up showing up out of nowhere to check on Hannah, announcing that she’s just there to help. As Hannah hides behind her bed, Marnie scans the physical ravages of Hannah’s mental state, her eyes flickering onto the only written line from Hannah’s book. “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” Marnie’s reaction is pretty heart-wrenching: she leaves. Hannah deals with this by eating Cool Whip from the container and deciding to cut her own hair.
Naturally, cutting your own hair, at least in my experience, doesn’t end well. And in this case it doesn’t. Hannah enlists Laird (!) to help her with fixing the back, which also is not the best of ideas. Post-haircut Hannah opens up to Laird, telling him she’s afraid that no one cares if she cuts herself with the metaphorical glass she’s sweeping up and Laird sadly responds that he cuts himself sweeping it up all the time. That’s when Hannah suddenly feels faint and needs to lie down. After Laird tries to help her and Hannah assumes he’s making a pass at her, Laird tells Hannah exactly how he actually feels. “You know what Hannah? You are the most self-important, presumptuous person I have ever met.” And he goes on to say that he thinks her insides are rotten and that it’s a pretty dark scene inside her head. Hannah apologizes for hurting his feelings rather half-assedly.
In an attempt for some human contact, Hannah calls Jessa. She leaves an angry message wondering where Jessa is, if she is in a crop top and has pierced her vagina, then lets her know that she’s forgetting about everyone who is fucking up at home.
Elsewhere, Adam and Natalia are still together. After last week’s discussion on whether or not Adam and Natalia’s sex was rape, it was pretty jarring to still see the two together. But in this episode, Natalia is calling all the shots sexually, directing him to do what feels good and what doesn’t. This includes calling Adam out when during sex he calls her a whore. “I can like your cock and not be a whore. Do you understand?” Natalia says.
Next, we see Adam working on something in his apartment when inexplicably he just starts bashing things in for no reason. It’s weird, out of nowhere and kind of disturbing. In the midst of his rage fest, Hannah Facetimes him. Adam can automatically tell something is wrong with Hannah. He asks if this is that “OCD shit” from when she was in high school. He’s pretty concerned about her and in a grand romantic gesture, runs shirtless while they are still Facetiming (completely unbelievable) to Hannah’s apartment. When she won’t let him in, he breaks down the door. Hannah rather incredulously says, “You’re here” and Adam replies, “I was always here.” He scoops her up and they kiss.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romantic gesture. But after last week and some of Adam’s previous behaviors, in this moment with the sweeping music and essential damsel in distress storyline, Adam is positioned as the romantic hero of the show. And I don’t know how I feel about that. I like Adam and I know many don’t, but framing him in this way doesn’t make sense to me. Possibly, that is what Dunham is going for—making the extremely flawed, unlikeable antihero instead the knight in shining armor. But I don’t want Adam to be that. At this point, also, my fondness for Hannah makes me so frustrated that she can’t ever seem to do anything for herself in literally all aspects of her life. This final scene framed it as Hannah needing saving—and maybe at this point it’s just getting out of her own head, being with another person to figure her things out, but looking at all of Hannah’s behaviors over the season it’s deeper than that.
In similar romantic gestures, Marnie and Charlie are in an uncertain place after sleeping together. After their initial hook-up, they’ve been continuing to do with great results for Marnie (apparently Charlie’s techniques have improved). However, when over brunch Marnie brings up settling down, the look on Charlie’s face indicated that he hasn’t thought about their relationship past sex. Marnie freaks out and in a scene that could be lifted from a million romantic comedies, yells at him in the restaurant and storms out. He goes after her and outside Marnie confesses that she just wants to be with Charlie. She wants to make him snacks, have his brown babies (um…) and watch him die. Charlie admits that this is all he’s ever wanted to hear—that maybe he’s an idiot for loving her and always coming back but he can’t help it. And just like that Marnie and Charlie are back together. In some ways, there’s a bit of a gender flip on a standard rom-com confession—Marnie assuming the dude role and admitting wanting this relationship. Despite the break the two took, maybe all they needed was to figure out what they both wanted. But I’m still completely uncertain about whether or not Marnie actually wants Charlie or if she wants the convenience of Charlie. After all the romantic gestures have concluded, she let him know that she doesn’t love him for his money, which seems like a pretty awkward thing to say after everything else.
Then there’s the inevitable breakup of Shoshanna and Ray. Things between the two have been spiraling for a while. Shosh is bored, sweatshirt-clad and not into it. After telling Ray to “get out of me” during sex, she tells him that his lack of ambition is wearing on her.
Ray wants to take initiative and show Shoshanna that he can be the kind of man she needs. He goes to Grumpy’s, first to quit, so he can go back to continuing his PhD studies in Latin Studies. Of course Ray was working on becoming a Latin scholar! He receives some sage words from his manager who offers Ray the opportunity to manage a new Grumpy’s in Brooklyn Heights. He thinks about it for a minute and agrees. “Fuck it,”he says. “Brooklyn Heights is classy.”
When he goes to tell her the news, Shosh is happy for him but his lack of ambition isn’t solely the problem. Shosh explains her feelings to Ray: she loves him but in a way she feels she has to take care of him and that while she’s on her “personal renaissance,” Ray should go to therapy. When he shouts he doesn’t need therapy, in a side of Shosh we’ve never seen before, she screams back “Yes, you do.” She doesn’t like how Ray hates everything—from colors to going to dinner. “I can’t be the only thing you like,” she says. Ray, of course, thinks there’s someone else—like a tall Scandinavian guy—and Shosh is insulted. Ray grabs a couple of his things and leaves.
I think Shosh was brave. Unlike many of the characters on the show, she was willing to verbalize how she honestly felt. She could have continued to drag it out with Ray and hurt him even more but she didn’t. In the final montage, we seen Shosh at a bar—talking and then making out with an adult male blonde. Looks like she’s trying out some new things.
Earlier in the season, in one of my favorite episodes, “One Man’s Trash,” Hannah tells a handsome doctor named Joshua that she just wants the things she needs to be happy like everyone else. And that’s what this episode provided: the things that our characters need or want to have in order to be happy. After a season that wavered between bleak and bleaker, they really needed this. But Hannah and Marnie’s storylines felt as if they were out of an entirely different show. I’m a total sucker for rom-coms, but that’s not what I expect from Girls and not necessarily what I want from it. This season, for me, seems that Dunham has been playing with structure and genre—we got the short-story-esque format of “One Man’s Trash” to the Cronenberg horror of last week’s “On All Fours,” so it makes sense for Dunham to cap the season with her own interpretation of a Katherine Heigl movie.
Despite the ups and downs of the season, Girls remains one of the most interesting and emotionally resonant looks into the inner lives of women and allows for discussion of our personal experiences. Through this season, we’ve had discourse on female friendships, bisexuality, mental illness, rape and consent amongst so many other issues and these are all extremely important conversations that can illuminate what we need more of in our media and culture and what desperately needs to change.
Quick List: Other Favorite Factoids from “Together”
- “I could diagnose it myself from reading Louisa May Alcott.” —Hannah on Scarlet Fever.
- Ray’s boss points out Shoshanna’s love for bread-shaped purses.
- Jessa’s voicemail greeting says: “I would never listen to a voice message.”
- “Is this fucking Facespace or whatever.” —Adam when Hannah Facetimes him.
Thanks so much for discussing this season of Girls with me! I’ve loved hearing your insights and seeing new ways of looking at the show. Read the whole season’s worth of Girls’ recaps here!