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Goodbye to "Girls"

by Chris Feil

This Sunday HBO ended the six season run of Girls, Lena Dunham’s caustic and compassionate take on millennial Brooklynites. The series ended much as it began: with a wide range of qualitative opinions, as frustrating as it was rife with conversation points, uneven but special.

The final season was its the choppiest since its earliest days, often one of its more unsatisfying. After seeming primed to get her shit together at the end of season five, that charged feeling of a new life chapter was delivered in the unexpected form of Hannah’s pregnancy. Marnie was running out of gas as her divorce finalized and her music career was on its most pathetic last legs. Elijah inched closer to Broadway. Jessa took a backseat as a villain without much of a story, and Shoshana was barely there at all, even less than usual. Despite its comic stride holding up from the previous season, this season’s form felt sloppy and scattered despite Hannah’s long-game story arc.

But this season was however one of its boldest leaps of faith yet. Hannah’s pregnancy wasn’t so much of Girls’s “jump the shark” moment because it followed the same immature irrationality that Hannah has always carried with her. And as usual, Hannah tries to pass this off as maturity. The question of whether or not this was *the* changing moment was a question that lingered all season, and smartly.

Do we sometimes become a ghost in our lives, like Jessa? Do we gradually step away from destructive forces in our life and they don’t notice until you’ve completely written them off, as Shoshana does? What if there’s never a wake up call, or too many too count, like Marnie? A better question is: how do you portray those struggles in a way that’s honest and not preachy, and often very very funny?

Now that it’s gone, I don’t see any show on television that takes the creative risks that Girls did - embodying the wrong side of controversial arguments, trusting the audience’s relationship with deeply flawed characters, even narrative risks it took it that may not have made much sense afterwards. At the show’s worst, it always felt alive. It was always in transition just like its subject, accepting its mistakes along the way.

That’s not to say that a sucky episode or clunky moment was intentional or wise on Girls’s part. Like any other show, not every episode can or should be a knockout. There’s the murky terrain of embodying Hannah’s privilege (her functional use of people of color this season were the worst, and her luck with inexplicable jobs is a justified point of anger in the audience) without explicitly condemning it, that still needed more clarity of intention to pull off what I think it was getting at.

I think we’ll otherwise remember the show for its intent behind its mistakes - once the lightning rods and controversies are forgotten, at least. And provided Dunham doesn’t continue to put her foot in her mouth now that she’s not channelling Hannah. Though I think this season was her best acting work yet, an impossible high wire act in the overall arc and in tiny moments, and the best thing about that distancing finale. If we should be bringing Girls back into the Emmy fold, her work is worthy.

Compared to other shows, this end was able to play into our need for audience closure and its own less definitive ambitions. There’s honesty in the ambiguous, more unfinished stories within ensemble, but there’s something a little honest too in the more pat happy endings of the likes of Ray or Shoshana or Elijah. It reads like the kind of friend we can project an entire lifetime of happiness onto just because of where we ended with them. I’m with the camp that was negative on the finale itself, though I admire how removed it feels from the rest of the season and what that might mean for Hannah and Marnie.

In some ways, Girls has always been subconsciously confusing to the audience for how much it loves and accepts its fuckup characters when we might have cut them out of our lives. The exasperation we feel with them is the same we feel with our own embarrassing mistakes. By extension, maybe it loved us where we found ourselves unlovable.

Girls made a mess of your social media feeds, took even a tiny bit of a win for body representation, and it made you care about these people who made mostly bad decisions. You may be glad it’s gone already, but no comedy on television is as worthwhile in its divisiveness. It may not have been a flawless sendoff, but I’ll miss this scrappy, smart, frustrating fuckup of a show.

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  • Response
    Response: kata kata cinta
    goodbye to girls, kata cinta romantis

Reader Comments (13)

Can't understand why everyone seems to have so many issues with this show. I unabashedly love it. Brilliant, brilliant show. It will be missed.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Vulture is all over Girls final season these past few weeks and it's amazing.
The girls in the poster also look amazing. They are bravely and confidently facing the future.
Hoping Dunham, Kirke, Mamet and Williams all the best!

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I am going to miss it so much! One of the greatest viewing plensures I have had these past 6 years.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

In a perfect world Lena, Rannells, and Rita Wilson would end up with Emmys on their shelves.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Even though the show just ended, I'm just starting to check it out. The other day, I watched the Season 2 episode "Video Games" because it has Ben Mendelsohn. But while he is great as he always is, I really liked Jemima Kirke's acting. The exchange her and Mendelsohn have on the swingset was pretty powerful stuff.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St. Clair

No mention of Hannah's black baby? Dunham's nudity was not about body positivity but audacious grotesqueness against the audience to endure what HBO and current culture will allow.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Great post, and I couldn't agree more with you. The final season just kind of seemed all over the place plot-wise, especially with the pregnancy sub-plot. I think they could have done without that addition. I think many fans agree that the show would have been perfectly fine ending the show on the second-to-last episode instead of the finale it ended on...it just didn't really represent fully what Girls was about. It seemed out of place. I'll certainly miss this show though :[

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

@ Matt St. Clair

I totally agree! In fact, she was my personal Emmy winner that year for that performance. She was just fantastic that episode, and the whole season.

I think Kirke got the short end of the stick in regards to screen time over the following seasons, but she was still able to make her performances count.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

These are my favorite words written so far about this unique and at times wonderful show.

April 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCory Rivard

I think it would have been all too easy for Lena to end the show on the penultimate episode instead with the girls dancing and celebrating and the "lol awkward"ness of Hannah not being invited to Shosh's engagement party and her setting off upstate to her new, wonderful life - the one that she had been seeking but not found.

It would have been easy.

I love that instead she chose to end it in a way that shows she's still a fuck up and still antagonistic and put a bold/underline/italic against the show's themes. The show was never about these four friends coming together and dancing and woo-hooing like party girls. It was about how friends drift apart and how people come and go and how chasing some ideal perfection rarely works. It never really made sense that these four women were close enough to build a show around. It was actually refreshing to see the show admit that not all friendships last and that not all of them can survive the nonsense that this show put them all through.

But then I also thought the entire season was its best yet. The writing was incredible and the acting by Dunham, Rannells, Baker and Kirke (when she was allowed to not be manic with Adam), especially, was above and beyond anything they'd given us before. I think Baker should win the guest actress Emmy and Lena should get the writing Emmy for "American Bitch". People didn't like the pregnancy storyline. But unlike a lot of other shows like this that end with an almost shrug-like "life goes on" concept, I like that it felt like an ending. Like the season was going somewhere with an end.

April 19, 2017 | Registered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Glenn - 100%

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

This reminds me, I need to watch The Goodbye Girl again.

April 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Glenn - I'm a big fan of the "American Bitch" episode as well, easily one of my favorites of the series's standalones

Matt - I hope you love the rest!

April 20, 2017 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

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