The ‘Girls’ season finale was kind of a disappointment

Lena Dunham’s “Girls” showed so much promise at the beginning of season one, but the past few episodes have been downright depressing. I was pretty offended by this week’s installment, which ended with main character Hannah stranded in Coney Island with nothing but cake. That part I appreciated (nothing beats the beach and treats), but everything else seemed sloppy and forced. Dunham is more capable than this.

The episode opens at Chez Marnie and Hannah…or rather, Chez Hannah. After an explosive fight, the girls have decided to stop living together and Marnie has moved out. They
get along better now that they’re no longer roommates, and that allows us to devote most of our attention to the weirdest part of the episode. Everyone attends a mystery party only to learn that it’s a wedding for Jessa and the finance creep who shouted her and Marnie down several weeks earlier when the girls refused to let him in on their make-out session. We’ve seen Jessa progress throughout the season and eschew cheap thrills, but did her character really have to tie the knot to change? In the words of one “Girls” reviewer, “marriage is not the portal to adulthood.” There’s no way it’s going to last either, and even if it does, I’m still going to be unsatisfied. I can’t take a program seriously with characters making drastic life choices on a whim. We need a proper build-up or all the peculiar things are going to seem contrived or like Dunham simply had writer’s block. She’s a talented screenwriter, but I learned more and more over the course of season one that she still has a lot to learn.

I dislike Marnie more and more every episode, a stark contrast to my view of her during the first few installments. She was my favorite person on “Girls” and now I cringe every time she appears onscreen. Though I take issue with the way she handles things, I can’t say her character hasn’t made progress this season. Charlie is old news and she clearly sticks to her commitments, but I still find her rather insufferable. Less so than Hannah, though, as the main character gets what we think she wants and still manages to completely ruin it. Her boyfriend Adam has few redeeming qualities and proves to be very verbally and emotionally abusive, but isn’t in a state of arrested development. Hannah is supposed to be unlikable–she’s basically all of us at our most pathetic and selfish, yet I’d really like Dunham to give us at least one reason to sympathize with her character, who steals from maids, is ungrateful for her amazing set of parents, and lacks the drive to aggressively go after her writing aspirations. I’d like to see her grow next season, as everyone else on the season has evolved in some way. Even though I don’t consider Jessa’s charade of a marriage to be “progress,” she showed she was ready to become a better individual when she turned down James LeGros’s pitiful character and declined Kathryn Hahn’s condescending advice. Marnie can finally wipe her hands clean of her weird connection with Charlie. Shoshanna cashed in her V-card. But Hannah? She’s stuck and doesn’t have the tools to change that. If the finale was in any way a reflection of season two, I have no reason to continue investing in this show.

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2 thoughts on “The ‘Girls’ season finale was kind of a disappointment

  1. You didn’t like it? Sad.
    I think that Hannah’s breakthrough is the fact that her experience isn’t singular, that in fact she doesn’t have a monopoly on hating herself or feeling unsatisfied. I think her stealing from the maid in the first episode isn’t her engaging in thievery but rather self-preservation in my mind. And for me Adam is the only one that’s gotten through to Hannah that her own self-sabatoge (a theme through the whole season when you look at her quitting her job or not being able to admit to her parents that she needs help) affects others. Her purse gets stolen and instead of feeling sorry for herself like she would have at the beginning, she eats cake at Coney Island, almost content in being free of everything else. I kind of think she might be changing.
    I do agree that Marnie needs a redeeming quality quickly before a wide part of the audience looses interest in her story line.
    But I also would counter the Jessa quip by saying her character is built on making rash decisions. She blew off her own abortion with a trip to the bar for White Russians. She texted her boss when she didn’t know it was him to come to the party. Jessa never has qualms about acting first and thinking later but as evidenced by her “I’d be a great mother” speech in that abortion episode and the “I love the things you don’t know” awkward vows that she recites to Thomas-John (who I can never get over is the cop from “Bridesmaids”) she seems to think what I feel like is her silently unfulfilled life can be cured with “adulthood,” which of course is silly. But to be fair early 20s is all about trying to put on your big girl pants and be an “adult”. I hope this is something I’m sure she’ll outgrow next season but I think the marriage screams less Dunham writer block and more Jessa being dumb and youthfully ignorant to the effects of her carefree spontaneity.
    I also love Ray, and how he verbally cuts down Hannah and her bologna about expired Mylanta. And Shoshanna and her crack attack and her craziness. I wish they appeared more this season. (And that losing her virginity wasn’t the only plotline Zosia Mamet got to explore. I fell in love with her in season four of “Mad Men” and I desperately want more of her in “Girls.”)

    1. Thanks for the long response! I agree that we should have seen more of Shoshanna this season. I actually like her more than any of the other characters even though Jessa seems pretty cool too. Not a fan of Marnie, though. I almost feel they’re all caricatures of themselves at this point. And I do know what you mean about Hannah being at peace with it all in Coney Island. At that point there’s little left to do. I also found out that Jessa’s character is having another baby in real life, so perhaps Lena kept that in mind when writing the final episode. I can’t wait for next season.

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