GIRLS Interrupted: The Friendship Ends Where It All Began
“We’re not grown-ups. We don’t have kids. We don’t share a house. There is nothing keeping us together. Other than the fact that we have been together for so long.” –Charlie Dattolo, Season One
Charlie, Marnie’s sweet and near normal college ex-boyfriend from HBO’s Girls provides this anecdote that is a faint echo through every season. Through every fight, missed opportunity, failed marriage, one-night stand and every weird thing that comes up from season one through six of Girls, audiences know that he’s correct - there is nothing to keep Hannah Horvath, Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johannsson and Shoshanna Shapiro together anymore.
Or, it could be the reason these four girls have stayed looped into each other’s lives for too long is that they were here for a selfish reason: for me. For someone who discovered Girls as a 21-year-old soon to be college senior, where I lived with a crew of three other girls, all leading very different lives. There was definitely a Shoshanna in my group - bubbly, ditsy, and inexperienced. My Jessa lived wildly and regaled to me unbelievable larger than life stories involving nearly every subject. And there was my Marnie, the prude and self-serving learner who was too pretty to hang out with all of us and she knew it. And me, the Hannah, constantly writing nonfiction essays but not letting anyone touch my writing and who was dating a boy who took another girl out on my 21st birthday. We were gross, we were self-absorbed but we were all present. One too many times our lives reflected the misadventures of these New York pre-women and I don’t miss it.
Like those fateful couple of years that were always in flux between happiness and wanting to jump out the window, I will not miss HBO’s Girls. Don’t mistake me, Girls is my all-time favorite television show, but this final season has felt like a pair of jeans that have gotten so tight they cut off circulation. Everyone must be let go.
At its very core, Girls drew a fine line for what I love about being a girl and why I despise it. While it has been cast as a millennial response to HBO’s Sex and the City, creator and star Lena Dunham has explained over and over that this cast, although projecting the same beats and themes from time to time, is not the same. Dunham addressed the comments in 2012 after the startup of season one, "There is no Sex and the City revenge plot…I revere that show just as much as any girl of my generation,” Dunham said in a Hollywood Reporter article. If this was my generation’s Sex in the City, which means eating cereal out of a coffee cup and worrying about rent rather than lusting over a Birkin bag, then I’m okay with it.
When you think about it, it’s actually great that Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna do not make it as friends. This is life, this is the way it has to be at times. Season six placed a magnifying glass onto the struggles of relatable tropes - the best friend and ex-boyfriend who unexpectedly end up together, the friend who gives up on the group entirely, the one who gets famous and the surprise pregnancy.
Hannah’s pregnancy, which stems from a week long stint at an all-female surf camp with Paul-Louie (Riz Ahmed) sets the entire cast into motion. It prompts Adam to chase after her one last time. To allude to the Sex and the City response, Adam, as a hunky and intense stand-in may have been Mr. Big. But, Mr. Big is not supposed to end up with Samantha. And through the episode, “What Will We Do this Time about Adam?” obviously it doesn’t work out. Adam retreats back to Jessa, tail between his legs, and the two will hopefully keep attempting to make it work. Unfortunately since this is Hannah’s show, once they are out of her life, they are out of our lives too. Their chemistry, and I would happily watch an entire spinoff of just Adam and Jessa, is cut off too. It’s like they're ghosts within Hannah’s memory, popping up on rare occasions just to annoy her.
If anyone was really a ghost on the show, it appeared that this season buried Shoshanna and didn’t tell any of us. Yet if it wasn’t for Hannah haphazardly dropping into Shoshanna’s apartment like an unexpected relative then we would have missed Shosh’s best comeback. She wasn’t ignored; she, unlike the rest of the girls, was actually out there living - making new friends, branching out and falling in love. In episode nine, “Goodbye Tour,” Shoshanna says what we are all thinking, “I have come to realize how exhausting and narcissistic and ultimately boring this whole dynamic is… If you happen to know all those pretty girls out there who have like, jobs and purses and nice personalities, those are now my friends. I think we should all just agree to call it.” You’re right Shosh, it’s time.
While some characters are nearly left out of the entire season, Hannah is basically the only focus. Where Hannah makes up for her own stubbornness and irritability in season six is within her own writing capabilities. It’s never fully defined if Hannah is an excellent writer, as Vanity Fair writer Lonnie Firestone discussed last week, but it is apparent that her charisma and boldness is what garners the most attention. The season begins with a website helmed by Chelsea Perretti, enlisting Hannah for a feature writing position. The season continues with a commentary on literary heroes who prey on seemingly eager young fans in “American Bitch,” an episode that is only fought in its greatness by Marnie and Charlie’s special fifth season episode "The Panic in Central Park.” Real issues are debated ad nauseum by Hannah and icky, egocentric author Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys), who both leave the situation with no clear resolution. And finally, Hannah is offered professorship at a university nestled in a small town outside of NYC. Whether or not Hannah is a good writer, she sure is a lucky one.
One thing is certain for Hannah; although a little unbelievable (You really have to have your MFA or doctorate to be deemed a professor at an accredited institute), if Hannah was not offered a position then there would be no redemption for this fussy behavior, the behavior she has gotten away with in her twenties until now. Albeit borderline kitsch, this job will provide her a new life. She evens says to Adam in season one, “It’s like we’re all slaves to this place that doesn’t really want us.” This pregnancy, this baby, is going to be Hannah’s saving grace. She will now be separate from the toxicity that only comes from your twenties.
As witnessed in last night’s final episode, “Latching,” Hannah is still a girl. A semi-time jump, Hannah and Marnie, who has gone crazy at the thought of being left alone and tries to be second mom, are raising Grover together (Grover, a name Louis mentioned when she told him), and Hannah still can’t settle down or get over herself. In true Hannah fashion, she runs away giving her pants to a young teen crying, only to proceed in yelling at her for not respecting her mother. Ultimately, what “Latching” really represents is the final let go, the last “let’s call it” moment. Marnie will hopefully try to be her own person again and Hannah will embark on this new journey on her own. It’s a simple ending but it’s a reminder to the audience. Breathe. It will all be fine.