This review contains spoilers.
The first season of Girls was all about just that – the girls. It’s a shame then that this second series finale, departing wildly from the dark tone of the preceding episodes, was all about them and their boyfriends. We ended somewhat unexpectedly and jarringly on a classic rom-com note, rather than the grimy realness of Hannah on the beach a season ago. Did that last montage reflect how much the characters have grown over season two of Girls, or did it just demonstrate how eternally childish they still are?
Hannah’s storyline might have been the bravest move in a season filled with experiments and wild tangents, as we’ve spent the last two to three weeks watching our protagonist and narrator descend into a pit of OCD and general mental unwellness. The physical manifestations of this, aside from a questionable choice of t-shirt, were the bleeding ear and now, a self-made Carey Mulligan-inspired pixie cut that doesn’t entirely suit her. If, like I did, you watch those episodes back-to-back, you realise how unrelentingly dark Hannah’s story has gotten over the course of this season.
Watching her absent-mindedly Google morbid medical issues when she’s meant to be writing her e-book is disconcerting, but not as much as watching her apologise to Lared about her actions a few weeks back. It’s actually quite nice and validating to hear the words come out of Dunham’s writing – Hannah is self-involved, presumptuous and generally rotten inside. It might sound harsh, but my travels have informed me that this is the main barrier between Girls fans and Girls haters. The haters can’t get past how repugnant the show’s central character is, and it’s odd that, having acknowledged her flaws, she’s still granted a happy(ish) ending.
It’s clear from her interaction with Lared that she’s using her issues to get attention from others, especially now that her parents are keeping their distance, and the real victim here is Adam. We’re supposed to perceive the final montage as a grand romantic gesture on his part, saving Hannah as her knight in shining armour. He literally picks her up, chivalry style, but the romance is tainted by all of the reasons why this is a bad idea. Adam has a good thing going with Natalia and, if he ends up returning to Hannah’s selfish yet accepting arms, nothing and no one is ever going to change.
Then we have Marnie, who finally gets what she wants in Charlie. It must mean something that both girls have returned to exactly the same place in which they started, and I wonder how long it’ll be until Marnie’s frustrated with Charlie all over again. He might be rich and successful now, but what has she really gained from this rekindled relationship other than a sense of safety during a hard period in her life? Since they broke up, Marnie has been fighting other girls for his attention and, now that she has it, is there anything else to strive for? It’s tragic, really, but I’m not entirely sure it’s meant to come across in that way.
The one character I felt satisfied with during this finale was Shoshana. As much as I loved her relationship with Ray in season one, the final moments prove that taking a break was the best choice she could have made. Ray didn’t bother finding his ambition like she asked, instead inventing a more impressive job title, and the age gap just proved too wide. I have no idea where this leaves Ray, since he hasn’t had much to do other than court Shoshana and work with Hannah in the coffee shop, but I hope we see more of the dynamic between him and Adam in season three.
The fact that I’ve summarised this episode using only couples should tell you how strange this finale was. The truth is, this isn’t Sex and the City – we tune in to see how these lost twentysomethings are coping with life in the big city, not how quickly their boyfriends can come to the rescue. Sex and love should be part of their story, not the whole tale, and it’s a shame that we had to end the season in such a schmaltzy way. Overall, season two has had all of the same problems as season one while adding some brand new ones, but no one can say that Dunham and the rest of the team didn’t try new things.
It’s been choppy and uneven, but has also produced some cracking episodes. Whether this finale was one of them is up to personal taste, I guess, but it’ll sure be interesting to see how Hannah, Marnie and Shoshana deal with their return to the status quo now with all of their experiences behind them.
Read Caroline’s thoughts on season one of Girls, here.
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