LOOKING BACK ON SEASON 4
It may be time for Girls to say goodbye for now, but looking back on the fourth season, it’s hard to say that it left much of an impression. Lena Dunham’s hit series began to seriously lack momentum this time around, with dramatic conflict shoehorned into all of Dunham’s pet obsessions: self-aggrandizing performance art, the lows of creative nonfiction, co-dependent relationships and antiseptic sexuality. All hot topics, to be sure, but the sense of a narrative seemingly evaporated. Remember how fast Hannah left Iowa? That entire episode about Mimi-Rose? What about Marnie’s jazz brunch gigs? Those now feel like distant memories (or dull callbacks) from the ten-week journey we’ve spent with these characters, and it’s because the show rarely hints at a world outside of its own bubble.
What once made Girls so unlike anything else on television was its defiance in never giving us the closure wanted, with a nearly anarchic subversion of any momentum its characters had going for them. It made newly trenchant observations of how petty and easily thwarted one’s ambitions can seem in a teeming, multicultural landscape like New York. But this attitude can only reinvent itself so many times without challenging the culture at large. Instead, Dunham favors her own depictions of lives marred by boredom and nostalgia, and as the world spins outside of our HBO GO accounts, her characters feel smaller and less significant the more we spend time with them. I think it may be time to meet some new friends.
Alas, here are 5 highlights from last night’s Girls finale.
RAY CHEWS DESI OUT
“Marriage is such an outmoded concept,” claims Desi to his new record producer, “but until they invent something better, this is the best way to express my devotion to Marnie.” Tired of keeping a straight face in light of his ex-lover’s recent betrothal, Ray is completely honest when Desi confronts him about any bad blood there might be between them. “I fucking hate you.” And no, it’s not the whole Pacific Northwest thing. Desi has always been an egomaniacal prick, and despite his horrible behavior, Marnie will always underestimate herself and take him back. It’s wild to see how much faith Ray still has in Marnie, and to think that he would spend his considerable ambition and intellect into keeping her happy. Love may be blind as ever, but Desi’s reaction to this takedown is to leave the episode and never come back.
SHOSHANNA LEANS IN
We finally had the gratification of watching Shoshana ace an interview for a marketing position, but there’s a twist: the job would outsource her to Tokyo. The most important question of the episode (personally speaking) became: is Jason Ritter really worth it? He implores Shosh not to take the job; to stay in New York and work for his company (the position she originally interviewed for, mind you). After all, he explains: “I’m going to be in love with you soon.” Love is conditional for the characters on Girls, but it’s a goal they’re willing to work around. She goes to Ray’s café to try and ask him for advice, but unfortunately, he’s not there. (Let’s beat the dead horse of Ray and Shosh’s relationship one more time.) Yet Ray’s migraine-fraught superior reminds Shosh of the tenets of Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, and she makes what is clearly the right decision.
SPIKE JONZE AND GABY HOFFMAN LAY ROTTEN EGGS
There were two guest stars this episode, both memorable for very different reasons. Spike Jonze played against his nebbishy nice-guy persona as the record label president repping Desi and Marnie’s band, giving too much personal information about his failed marriage and effectively souring any hope of Marnie and Desi’s long-term happiness (nice work!). Gaby Hoffman, fearless as usual, returned as Adam’s pregnant sister in perhaps the lengthiest nude scene in the show’s history, as Hannah and Jessa tried to get her out of the bathtub and into the hospital. The shouting match between her, Adam and her husband Laird played merely like fireworks, and the situation was a trite placeholder for Adam and Hannah’s long-overdue reconciliation.
HANNAH REJECTS ADAM AND MOVES ON WITH HER LIFE
Looking over his sister’s newborn baby, Adam tells Hannah that it’s over with Mimi-Rose, and that he misses her. Too little, too late—she tells him he’s tired and that he’ll get over it. Ignoring his protests, it was a relief to see Hannah not give into Adam, and letting this rather played out, multiple-season-long drama end once and for all.
When Hannah calls her parents from the hospital, we find them in a negative state, with Hannah’s mom disparaging her “cowardly” husband as he sits next to her at the table. “You have your whole life ahead of you, and not to waste it on one man,” she says. But then a title card takes us six months into the future, only to find a well-adjusted Hannah with her new beau, Fran (Jake Lacy)— presumably having forgiven her crazy ways. Is this a muddled message for Girls viewers regarding the merits of monogamy, or is Dunham complicating her narrative on purpose? I’m frankly puzzled by this last bit of provocation, but I hope Dunham finds it in herself to give us a more coherent statement when she returns.