On April 16, 2017, the HBO original series Girls aired its final episode after six seasons. I watched every episode of the series, and if someone asked me why, my answer would be, “Well, it’s kinda funny.” But was that enough?
As soon as the sixth season premiered I knew I would be writing something about the show, but I simultaneously realized that I found myself in a unique situation. Normally, a show is good for reason A and B or bad for reasons C and D, but Girls was, in reality, actually quite unlikeable and was merely redeemed in that it could be funny (and I cannot emphasize how it wasn’t always funny). Upon this realization, I felt that it was my duty to be truthful about this critical darling.
It goes without saying that a show is defined by its characters, and in my experience, it comes down to two categories: characters you love and characters you love to hate. Take Game of Thrones—people love Tyrion or Daenerys and love to hate Joffrey or Cersei. In Girls, these categories do not exist, for while none of the four main characters are loveable, I also wouldn’t say they’re characters that make people revel in their actions despite being an antagonist rather than a protagonist. In reality, all the characters are catty, entitled, whiny, and flat-out annoying. Most TV characters have flaws, but generally it is the positives of the character that are emphasized through their flaws.
Reflecting on all six seasons of Girls, however, the flaw-to-positive-trait ratio doesn’t quite work. Hannah (Lena Dunham) has the most undeserved ego in history of television characters, has no sense of reality, is immature beyond her years, and lacks any real sense of a work ethic. Her only positive trait is that she can occasionally be funny. Marnie (Allison Williams) has serious commitment issues regarding relationships, cannot fathom how her actions affect others, and never stops singing. She’s arguably the most attractive on the show, but that’s about it. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is perhaps the least annoying and most likeable character, but she is a drug addict with no respect for norms who is willing to start a relationship with the ex-boyfriend of her best friend. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), on the other hand, is the most annoying and useless character and the most useless—need I go on? I honestly could not think of a single positive trait for her.
So there is really nothing to like about any of these characters. I suspect that Lena Dunham cast her friends (they were all friends in real life before the show) and simply amplified their personalities to 11 on screen. Admittedly I have no basis to think that any of the actresses are like their character, other than Lena of course, but I feel it makes sense in a strange way.
I will say that for the most part, the plots of the show maintained a fairly good cohesiveness, other than a few examples of things not making complete sense. For instance, though it’s noted that Hannah has an English degree from Oberlin College, she has a teaching job in season five. As someone with an English degree and was going to be a teacher, I always found this to be unlikely if not impossible—unless you’re going to be an elementary-school teacher, becoming a teacher is essentially a double-major endeavor, requiring a teaching major on top of your specialty (in this case English). Plus, there are tests and standards one must pass, and none of these are mentioned on the show. But hey, maybe that is me being nitpicky; I mean Richie on Happy Days had a brother that completely disappeared from the show without any mention of him.
However, I was really bothered by this last season, as it was noticeably different from the rest of the series. The first half was very much like any other season, but then Hannah gets pregnant and it sort of feels like they rush to wrap up every character’s story—which doesn’t really happen, and it ends with a conclusion I found unsatisfactory. I thought they might do the logical thing and have all the girls go their separate ways and have them all meet again years later at a reunion or something. Instead, the feud between Jessa and Hannah was miraculously over with no mention what happened to Jessa or whether she stayed with Adam. Shoshanna, we learn, gets married to a guy she barely knows and cuts ties with everyone. Marnie goes to live with Hannah when she moves and helps to take care of her child with no mention of her pending divorce or job aspirations. The final episode revolves around Hannah having trouble nursing her son and suddenly ends when she successfully gets him to do so.
I guess that after all the drama, neuroses, and narcissism of the show I expected more, but in the end I was left with very little and, as I have hopefully made clear by now, a question of why I stuck with this show for so long. I feel like if the show had a tombstone, it would read, “Girls: Seemed funny at the time. Missed only by those who worked on it.” Because let’s behonest, is anyone going to miss the show? I won’t and I followed it from beginning to end.