GIRLS Season 2 Finale Recap: “Together”

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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.

girls-season-2-posterThe 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.

girls-one-mans-trash-lena-dunham-1Hannah 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:

girls-one-mans-trash-lena-dunham– 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!




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  • Clayton

    The emperor has no clothes (and she’s dumpy and gross). A self obsessed show about a self obsessed girl who doesn’t want to do anything, and succeeds, but it was so hard.

  • movieguy223

    Know what’s funny? I’ve been heavily criticizing this show from Day 1 and I actually liked Season 2 MORE than Season 1 for some reason, I found it less infuriating and tried to find value in the non-Hannah-centric episodes. Episode 5 is technically the best episode of the show (direction, cinematography, atmosphere), but my favorite episodes remain the Warehouse episode of S1, the penultimate of S2, the coke episode of S2, and the finale of S1. They were entertaining, funny, real, and contained a balance of character. My close friends always asked why I decided to keep going through with the show if, outside of those few episodes, I always had some kind of major criticism for every single episode. I guess it took me this long to realize that I hate-watch Girls. I don’t like it, I find it infuriating and tedious, I tend to stay away from people like these characters in real life but I subject myself to them visually because “I’m loyal to HBO” and “It’s only 30 minutes.” I subconsciously created reasons to acceptably hate-watch Girls. Wow. I blew my own mind. I’ll continue to hate-watch next season, even though this finale put everyone kind of in the same position they were when we met them. Except Shoshanna is now horny (but Zosia Mamet is the unsung hero of the show).

    • Allison Keene

      You and I have had very similar experiences with it!

  • Hopeless

    Overall, the season was very uneven. It felt like Lena was rushing to write the last two episode which should have been her focus all along. I mean where the hell did the OCD come from? There were some great moments; every single scene in the episode with Patrick Wilson that plays out like a romantic indie movie (the writing and the cinematography was sublime), the Ray and Adam scene at Staten Island, the heartbreaking phone call between Marnie and Hannah after she broke up with Booth Jonathon and the Marnie and Elijah’s hilarious sex scene. But there were plenty of bad episodes too. I also agree that Lena should divert the attention to other characters too especially Shoshanna and not just make it the Hannah show.

    And finally, as much as I hate it and think that Adam needs to be with someone else, the final scene of the finale made me tear up a bit. And I’m a grown ass man god damn it! Adam running shirtless around NY still FaceTimeing with Hannah was awesome and the part where he swoops her from the bed and responds to Hannah’s “You’re here” with “I was always here” was simply beautiful. :’(

    • Allison Keene

      On another show I would have loved that moment … but on this show between those two people, I just couldn’t buy it!

  • Albert

    I think I’ll keep watching Girls because to me this show feels like an experiment. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before and not in a good way sometimes. I will watch next season but neither in a hate-watching kind of way nor in a love-watching way. I will watch it with a critical thinking because it is truly interesting to me to see how far Lena can take this show.
    Personally, I found this season finale boring and sort of expected; nothing really happened to make you look forward next season.
    I think the problem is that the writers are trying to make Hannah “real” but they’re going beyond that and making her a really self-absorbing, drama queen which is completely ruining the show since she is the focus of the whole premise. This would even be acceptable if there was a balance with other likable characters but it isn’t the case.

    • Allison Keene

      You make a very good point, and it’s one of the reasons I stick with the show in the first place — it’s NOT like anything we’ve seen, for better or worse. I just wish that it didn’t come with the baggage of so much hype over Dunham’s “genius,” because then we really can’t talk about it without taking a side (love her / hate her). It’s just a weird show, not (as I’ve said a million times hah) anything indicative of an entire generation’s culture.

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  • ky

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    Please please please let someone else review the new season of Game of Thrones. I’ll even take Davethough he has the taste of a teenager. After this and the last season of Breaking Bad, nothing this writes is worth reading. She’s completely devoid of any human emotion.

  • assakurablossoms

    I like this show actually. This season was disappointing, but that’s because I liked it in the first place. I am also willing to watch the next season. I can imagine that it is difficult to watch a show where the protagonist has a mental illness, and is trying to function in a high paced city like NY. It’s easy to say that she gives up when she finally achieves success, manipulates (actually she does, but that’s mostly because of the way her parents raised her) or alienates, but that’s just looking at the character on the surface. As an adult she has to take responsibility, but I think she’s unequipped. She also has OCD which can be debilitating under stressful circumstances. Shoshana also has anxiety, but the writers don’t really show how that really affects her her, they make her the typical awkward character which is a bummer. Nonetheless, many of the characters have some kind of issue that they are dealing with and at the same time they are dealing with each other and life. Hannah is struggles between her need for love and intimacy with her fear for love and intimacy. Who would want anyone to see them once they have broken down, and who would you reach out to to help you in that moment. I think she reaches out and is attracted to Adam because he can deal (AA). I would love S3 to show how she copes. I think a lot of show goes for drama in very superficial ways like, revenge, greed, murder. These are often depicted in a larger-than-life manner. But, except for the kinda fairytale ending of S2, I think that this drama is trying realism and is trying to give voice, in a central character, to individuals who are often silenced in our society. For that, I love this show.

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