As with most shows, every time a new season of Girls airs, there is a parade of people waiting in the wings to dissect all the reasons why the preceding seasons were better.
I disagree with all such people.
I don’t know if it has to do with the show itself or my own circumstances, but so far I have found myself enjoying every new season a little bit more.
Writing this was hard. When I actually thought about it ‘everything I loved’ about this season, it turned out to be pretty much… everything.
Shoshanna in Japan
I was so happy when Shoshanna ditched her boring boyfriend at the end of season 4 and moved to Japan for her job. Her whole experience there, from her rise to her redundancy totally spoke to the experience of growing up.
There are peaks and troughs, people.
What you see in Shoshanna’s experience – a theme they build on every season, I think – is the temporariness of any stage of life. Whether it’s her virginity, her employability or even her sense of home, all things in Shoshanna’s life – and all our lives – are temporary. This sounds like it should be totally depressing – and at times it is. When she yelled “WHY AM I HERE?!” at no one in particular on her return to New York my heart totally broke for her. But it’s also… kind of not. Sometimes life consists of digging oneself out of a series of holes, and as Shoshanna’s experience indicates, that’s actually okay.
Elijah getting his heart broken
If watching this didn’t wreck you, then you have no soul.
Adam and Jessa
It’s been obvious for a while now that these two were eventually going to fuck.
I wanted it and dreaded it in equal measure because we all knew how it was going to end… with Adam ripping his way, psychopath-style through a bathroom door.
Even before they got together, Jessa said that they would destroy each other was their inevitable conclusion. And honestly, watching the fast decline of their relationship felt a little… performative, as if to an extent they were just acting according to their preconceived ideas of themselves as ‘destructive people’. They had already decided that their relationship would end in ruin, and played it out to an unnecessarily dramatic extent.
They might be perfect for each other. Or they might kill each other. I’m not sure.
In Adam and Jessa we see two people with an inability to change. Which makes way for…
Hannah not going crazy
While Jessa and Adam simply act according to the ways they’ve always acted in the past, Hannah, on finding out that her best friend and her most significant ex are now in love, contemplates going the opposite way.
Hannah’s analysis of how she could have reacted, and how she knew everyone expected her to react – with some serious crazy – was quite unexpected from a character who usually barrels through the world so blindly.
In a move in total opposition to Adam and Jessa and their inevitable conclusion, Hannah decides to wish them well and get on with her own life, for the first time without a significant other as a placeholder for something bigger. There is just her alone, facing the future.
Watching Hannah choose the not crazy option felt a little like growing up.
I have to end this with my favourite episode of the season (of the entire 5 seasons, actually), The Panic in Central Park.
This episode was perfection. It didn’t even feel like an episode. It felt like a movie.
The writing of Marnie, and Alison Williams’ portrayal of her has always been my favourite. Don’t get me wrong – I seriously dislike Marnie the vast majority of the time, but in a way that means I also enjoy her immensely. Her self-conscious posturing is so real and vulnerable that it makes me physically cringe. She’s just as lost as Hannah but desperately pretending not to be by throwing herself into relationship after ill-fitting relationship. She only got married to give herself a false sense of direction.
I loved how this episode dealt with the concept of identity. In the sudden reappearance of Charlie, we see a guy changed from the sweet puppy whose heart Marnie used to treat like a football (until he turned around and repaid the favour), to a drug dealer who hangs out on street corners with guys who yell at women as they pass by.
Marnie falls headfirst into his world for a night. It was intriguing to watch two people come together after so many years and renegotiate their relationship under the shadow of their past and present identities: Marnie, married and Charlie basically a mystery.
Knowing so little about each other, it’s easy for them to pretend, at least for a little while, that they might be the solution to each other’s problems.
Until morning, that is.
It seemed strangely inevitable when Marnie found the used needles in Charlie’s apartment and realised that he wasn’t only dealing drugs, but using them as well. When she realised that much of her magical night was just Charlie under the influence, any illusions she’d created about running away with him were instantly destroyed. But her determination to leave her marriage remained. Her determination to define herself remained – however temporarily – in terms of herself, rather than her relationship.
It’s beautiful, guys. It’s worth watching all the previous seasons just so you can properly appreciate for perfection of it.