No matter how you thought the first season of Girls played out, there’s little argument that the show has damn near perfected the shockingly awkward moments and mistakes these characters make on a weekly basis. Part of the greatness lies in the fact that, more times than not, the characters on the show are even more mortified than the audience watching at home.
So it seems very fitting that the events that transpire in the season finale revolve around Jessa’s surprise wedding to Thomas John (played by Chris O’Dowd, the character she turned down the three-way with Marnie a few weeks back). It’s shocking, for sure, but not all that surprising considering Jessa’s personality and the journey her character has taken this year. She claims to be happier than she’s ever been (and when asked if she feels like a “real adult” now, she answers “Mmmmmmmmmmm…Yes.”), but knowing Jessa, this brief moment of bliss will eventually come to a (most likely horrible) end sometime next season. Despite the likelihood of that happening, she makes no qualms about living for the now, and falling in love with a guy and marrying him two weeks later, however silly, worked perfectly well for me.
Much like the Bushwick warehouse party episode, “She Did” gets all the girls in one place and allows their stories to unfold simultaneously. First we have Shoshanna, who had a bad feeling about the day before she even got to the surprise wedding (she doesn’t like the nice weather; it gives her the spring itch in a bad way), and the feeling is only amplified when she realizes that she’s wearing white on Jessa’s big day. Even though Shosh is clearly the least represented of the four girls, we still have enough of an idea about her anxiety and neurosis to know that this event would put her in a weird, dark place.
Granted, Shosh’s dark place is stemmed from a severe lack of maturity (“everyone’s a dumb whore” is how she chooses to express herself). Enter Ray, who could not stop thinking about her following the unofficial handjob in the streets of Bushwick. He consoles her is the Ray-est of ways, claiming an undeniable connection between the two while somehow remaining weirdly charming while calling her the strangest person he’s ever met. Despite their differences, Ray and Shosh still connect on a misfit and oddball level, which is part of the reason why Shosh agrees to go home with him (the other being, of course, so she can finally have sex). Conventional wisdom suggests that Ray is perhaps preying on Shosh’s insecurities and desperateness, but Ray is nothing if not blunt and forthright, which means there’s no bullshit subtext to any of the sweet things he’s saying to her.
Then there’s Marnie, who’s breaking point was reached in last week’s episode after her epic fight with Hannah. The opening scene confirms that she is indeed moving out, but she surprisingly seems to hold little-to-no animosity towards Hannah. She’s temporarily living with Shoshanna and has no idea what her next step is, but she admits that not having a plan might be the best thing for her right now.
While Marnie is just as shocked as the rest of the crew at the wedding, she eventually becomes oddly accepting of the idea, whereas the old, uptight Marnie would have had a list ready of why this was such a terrible mistake to make. She let’s loose on the dance floor, makes amends with Elijah, and has an amiable encounter with Charlie (where Charlie not-so-jokingly suggests they have sex in the bathroom). She even becomes overly flirty with the nervous, ill-timed jokester/minister (Bobby Moynihan), making an advance on a guy clearly not on her level, something she would have never done before. Even if the effects of New Marnie eventually run thin, she’s clearly in a much better place than she ever was with Charlie, and that mindset should keep Old Marnie at bay.
And, of course, there’s Hannah, who — while everyone around her appears to be (trying to) make strides towards positive change and happiness — still struggles with her crippling fear of growing up. It starts when Adam plants the seed in Hannah’s mind that maybe he can move into her apartment. It’s clear that Hannah is really into Adam, but that doesn’t make her any less scared of him now that he’s becoming attached (his “we’re in it for the long haul” line whilst slow dancing was not the least bit comforting for her).
So instead of confronting Adam about this and talking it out like a regular person, Hannah sees a roundabout way of resolving this problem by asking Elijah to move in with her (more Andrew Rannells next year, please). She casually drops this information on Adam, and much like with Marnie last week, we dive into a fight that isn’t easily fixed.
“If you didn’t like the idea, why didn’t you just say so?” seems like a pretty easy solution for anything, especially for Adam, who much like Ray, lays it all on the table. No bullshit. What you see is what you get. But with Hannah and her problems and insecurities, this type of openness is impossible. She’s scared, but of what? Of someone who loves her as much as she loves herself? Maybe, but more likely is that she has no idea what terrifies her so much. Everything has become so overwhelming that her seemingly never-ending pile of mistakes have formed into one unclimbable mountain.
Adam is so distraught that while pacing back and forth in the street he is clipped by a car, and he’s so angry at Hannah that he won’t even let her in the ambulance, leaving her just as alone and sad and misguided as she was when we met her in the pilot episode. She falls asleep on the subway home and wakes up to the realization that her purse has been stolen and that she’s in Coney Island. Hannah walks to the beach to the sounds of morning birds chirping and the waves crashing. She then has one of her truest moments of the season, where all along she’s been trying to have her cake and eat it too, the final shot has her fully surrendered, simply eating her cake.
In what was a spectacular, hilarious, and heartbreaking first season, Girls
hit on all the right cylinders when it came to dramatizing what it’s like being a young adult in this day and age. Hannah climbed out of the gutter to find marginal happiness and success only to fall right back down on her face, but to steal a line from the immortal Lester Freamon from The Wire, all the pieces matter, and I’ll be damned if Hannah doesn’t take these experiences gained and lessons learned (or not) to help her get back to living the dream, one mistake at a time.
Season One Grade: A-
- Adam being a more effective furniture mover by himself than with the help of Marnie and Hannah was a funny cold opener, but also a great piece of foreshadowing, with Adam doing all the (emotional) work in the relationship. Who would have thought that at the beginning of the season?
- Hannah and Jessa having a great heart-to-heart in the bathroom following Jessa’s nuptials got me thinking about all the great bathroom scenes this season: Hannah eating cupcakes in the tub, Hannah getting peed on, Mr. Horvath hurting his back during shower sex, Jessa’s revel to Marnie that she was pregnant. The scene also gave us the most loving reading of “you’re so fucking gross lying on the bathroom floor” possible.
- Hannah to Elijah concerning her HPV: “Let’s consider it water under…my vagina.”
- Shosh: “It doesn’t hurt.” Ray: “Good, because I haven’t done anything yet.”
- Soundtrack: “Halo” by Beyonce, already one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs, made even better by Hannah’s dance moves.
- While it seems like a longshot, the show definitely deserves some Emmy love when nominations are announced later this summer, especially for its writing. I’d love to see Adam Driver get some recognition for Supporting Actor — he was terrific in these last five or so episodes — but that will never happen (the category name should be changed to “Best Modern Family Dude”).
- That’s it for season one. Thanks so much for everyone who read and commented. This was my first recapping gig and I had a blast doing it. Be sure to check back with me later this summer for Louie and Breaking Bad recaps.