After last week’s controversial Girls episode, I can’t imagine anything less controversial or interesting than “Together,” which felt like a very, very, odd kowtow to the exact conventions that Lena Dunham has seemed to strive to subvert through most of the series. Further, the show has turned from the experiences of twenty-somethings — finding or not finding careers in a bad economy, confusing sexual trysts — to the mental breakdown of one twenty-something in particular: Hannah. Are her issues real, or are they forced? I have never identified with a character more on the show than Hannah’s father, who lashed out at her for manipulating him time and time again, and that she’s at a place where she should be old enough to take control of her life and stop making excuses. Except she’s clearly not. Hit the jump to see if I succeed in spinning something positive out of this unsatisfying finale.
The first season of Girls ended with Hannah alone and without resources on a beach, but seemingly okay. This season wasn’t much different, except instead of running from Adam she had him running to her. Was this supposed to be a good thing? The swirling soundtrack and the romantic trope of the man dropping everything to bust down the door to save his lady love seemed a very odd way to have things play out given all that the show has done to make sure those things never happen. Especially on the heels of Marnie and Charlie back in mutual love, something that we knew was coming for awhile but was dropped in suddenly and casually in a triumphant moment, as if this was a show where that kind of thing happened.
This season of Girls has been exceptionally uneven, and while it managed to still portray some general truths (and specific generational commentary), it devolved in the last few episodes into a case study of the bewildered With last week’s episode sparking so much debate, I had a lot of conversations throughout the week about the series, and it seemed that most everyone was just tired of it. Every week there’s a ritualistic humiliation that may be, in part, realistically portrayed (to some of us more than others), but on the whole its unrelenting bleakness is beyond the pale. Then, to this week suddenly resolve everything in happiness? (Aside from Ray, even though Shoshanna seemed pretty happy with her decision to move on). It rang hollow.
I’m not sure what Girls is giving us anymore, and I’m not sure it knows, either. I remember reading something last year about Judd Apatow saying that Dunham’s desire was to never let anyone have a happy ending, and that he really pushed her to include some positivity. I guess you can say that she technically did in “Together,” if you think that Adam and Hannah deserve each other and Marnie and Charlie do, too. Or maybe this is all an extension of last week’s theme that you are who you are, and even though these four characters have tried to go off and try to be different people, they are always magnetically attracted back to a certain person or way of life. Charlie admits to Marnie that he doesn’t think that loving her is the best thing for him, but he does it anyway. Even after Adam’s interaction with Natalia last week, she took him back and tried to teach him how to have sex without calling his partner a whore. He doesn’t like it, and chases after Hannah and her blown out eardrum instead.
Hannah too has reverted back to old habits with her OCD issues and alienating and manipulating those around her. The best words spoken yet on the series may be Laird’s truth bomb to Hannah that “you are the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met.” He tells her she’s rotten inside and there are dark scenes inside of her head. She doesn’t disagree, she just apologizes without emotion that that’s just how she is. That’s sad. And I don’t know what we get from seeing Hannah deteriorate or never grow or never want to grow, except to just make everyone feel awful.
In some ways Girls is raw and difficult. It can also be interesting and heartfelt. But in other ways it’s largely useless, relying on, as a friend of mine said “toxic shock” to fill the gaps. What did we get out of this season? A few truly funny moments that belonged in another comedy (mostly everything to do with Elijah), a few haunting vignettes like Adam and Ray Take Staten Island, and Jessa’s trip back home. But mostly we watched four girls get routinely humiliated, and played off like that’s a normal part of growing up. It’s not. At least, not with the pervasive regularity the show seems to expect.
I’ll be interested to see how many people care to keep investing themselves in the unfortunate lives of such unlikable people next year. I may go back to hate-watching it rather than actually enjoying it (which I started to this year, until these last few episodes set me back again). Ultimately, when a guy like Ray who hates everything turns out to be of the purest of hearts, there’s something not quite right.
Episode Rating: B-
Season Rating: B
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I knew that the teaser that Charlie was just having casual sex with Marnie would be debunked in about two seconds, as it was. Apparently telling someone you want to have their brown babies and watch them die is the height of forever romance.
— “Will you get out of me?” – Shoshanna, hoping that Ray will get therapy and she can have a personal renaissance.
— I feel exceptionally sorry for Hannah’s parents, especially her father, who has tried so hard to do right by her.
— “Shiri! Operate!” – Adam. I swear he said Shiri, was that a co-star moment?
— “I love you like I feel sorry for a monkey in its cage” – Shoshanna
— Googling medical maladies is the worst, and will only lead you to being afraid of your own skin, which is clearly trying to strangle you in your sleep (it said so on Yahoo Answers!)
— “I can’t deal with your black soul right now” – Shoshanna. It’s critical thinking, Shosh!
— “There are porn films with less sex than this show” – My watch-buddy Martha
— “Brooklyn Heights is classy. Fuck it, I’m in” – Ray, dropping his renewed desire to finish his PhD in Latin Studies.
— “Oh Chloe, only the rain has such small hands” – David
— Goodbye, Girls. Can’t say I’ll really miss you. Bring on Game of Thrones!