Girls Ends On an Underwhelming Note

On Sunday night, HBO aired the series finale of Girls. The final season has been solid, giving some characters a chance to mature. All the characters have been frustrating in the past, but this year has presented them all with the opportunity to grow up, even if they opt not to take it.

The series finale only has two of the main characters: Hannah and Marnie. Marnie doesn’t do much, as this episode primarily shows Hannah adapting to parenthood. Hannah isn’t bonding with her child and she’s looking for someone else to blame. Her mother visits to help and she bluntly states that Hannah needs to accept that this is the first choice she’s made that she can’t get out of. This makes sense in a series finale, as Hannah has always struggled to take responsibility. That was the main factor keeping her from being an actual adult. The scenes between her and her mother are predictably excellent, but this finale seems unfulfilling.

To start, Marnie seems like the mature one, when the series has always made a point of making her to be the worst person. Marnie is still Marnie: condescending, phony, and singing when no one wants her to. Yet, this last episode paints her as a good person, which rings false. The series has gone to great lengths to make sure Marnie cannot be liked. Those who found her likable at the beginning of the show found it quickly difficult to defend her as time went on. An interesting character? Absolutely, but not a sympathetic one.

There are worse things than making a loathsome character likeable, though. The real problem is the lack of the other characters. Jessa, Shoshanna, Adam, Ray, and Elijah are not so much as mentioned. This is confusing when the show is about relationships. The show has mistakenly been labeled as a show about friendships; the friendships were beginning to fade six years ago and unlikely friendships began to emerge. The only consistent one was between Hannah and Elijah. This season provided closure for most characters, but the finale just seemed more like a run-on sentence than a definitive ending.

Having a series finale be quiet and anti-climatic is fine, but you hope that there’s some insight into the future of the characters you’ve invested so much time in. The penultimate episode, for this reason, was stronger and should have been the last episode. By the time that episode began, Ray had found some happiness after a lifetime of being miserable. Adam had returned to Jessa, in a relationship that seemed liked it was on its last legs. The episode was about the four main characters addressing years of animosity toward each other. They conclude that they are too toxic for each other and they should just call their friendship once and for all. But, it didn’t end on that sour note.

Soon after, the characters seemed to reconcile, barely sharing a word. For the first time, they were together without at least two of them hating each other. It seemed like an unspoken agreement that though their relationship would never totally recover and that they would hardly see each other anymore, there was still love there. It was beautiful, it was hopeful, it was fitting, and it was fulfilling. Lena Dunham was capable of giving us the ending we wanted, and she did. She just didn’t put it at the end.