'Girls' Finale: Where We Are and Where We're Going (Iowa?)
Last night, Girls ended its third season with a high point for Hannah and a bunch of low points for pretty much everyone else.
Last night, Girls ended its third season with a high point for Hannah and a bunch of low points for pretty much everyone else. With this round of Brooklyn malaise now come to a close, let's look back on the season that was and imagine where things could go from here.
Where she is: Hannah ended this season clutching her Iowa Writers' Wokshop acceptance letter with a big smile on her face, proof that her journey this season has been about finding her professional contentment. She began the season with an e-book on the way only to have those plans fall apart after of the untimely death of her editor. She then tried her hand at having a steady job doing advertorial work, but that wasn't creatively fulfilling for her. Little did we know she was apparently applying to MFA programs this whole time, and was able to get into one of the most prestigious ones in the country. As a viewer, I have never been convinced as to whether Hannah is a good writer or a writer who thinks she's good. Her acceptance proves the former.
On the surface Hannah has never seemed like much of a careerist—she's self sabotaging and, frankly, a mess—but this season has shown that Hannah is willing to sacrifice relationships and and friendships for her professional advancement. She callously focused on the future of her own book at her editor's funeral; she insulted all of her colleagues at GQ; and, last night, in the biggest blow, she ruined Adam's opening night. Adam had made it clear that his work in Major Barbara was something he cared deeply about, and Hannah completely disregarded that. He wanted distance from her in order to be the best he could be, and she went to his dressing room on opening night. How much does she care about his work on Broadway? She fell asleep during the play. In the last moments of the episode, one might have expected her to be dejected because of her falling out with Adam. Instead, she's overjoyed. I genuinely want to be happy for Hannah—she's a woman achieving her dreams after all—but she is unrepentant about her lack of enthusiasm for anything but herself.
Where (we hope) she's going: Hannah's acceptance to Iowa obviously leaves a question mark hanging over the show: will she actually go? I, for one, hope she does. If Hannah actually goes to the program and then returns to the city for the summer months the show might get some narrative momentum for Hannah. Judd Apatow has speculated that Girls could run six seasons. Goodness knows, no one wants to be watching Hannah flail for another three years.
Where she is: Oh, Marnie. Things were looking up for Marnie in the penultimate episode—she sounded good singing!—but any signs of hope for her quickly dissipated in the finale. She told Hannah at the beginning of the episode: "I know that I need to have more respect for the emotional property of other women, and I know that I use sex for validation because it’s what I do." She was talking about what happened with Ray, but then goes and does the exact same thing with Desi, bringing him James Taylor's guitar pick and making out with him before opening night. (Seriously, who was letting Hannah and Marnie backstage! This is Broadway, people.) She finished out the episode in perfectly pathetic manner, looking longingly at Desi fight with his girlfriend.
Where (we hope) she is going: Marnie's best moments this season were when she seemed to be completely in control of herself. For instance, when she told Ray: "Go fuck yourself, like I'd advertise this." Sure, she had just had sex with him in a moment of desperation, but I want to see more of that Marnie: the tough, aware Marnie, not the of the delusional, moon-eyed Marnie. She seems to be heading in the latter direction, here's hoping she undergoes a transformation before next season.
Where she is: Narratively, Shoshanna gets the short end of the stick on this show. She is so frequently ignored, only to get awesome episodes like the one last night. The show hinted at a break down for Shoshanna this season, making her the truth teller in the beach house episode, and having her be the only protagonist to really deal with Jessa's drug use. If only we had been given more of a chance to see just how much Shoshanna was unraveling before she actually crumbled. Still, she crumbled in fine form, destroying her apartment after learning she failed Glaciology and wouldn't graduate, tackling Marnie, and asking Ray to take her back. Zosia Mamet's performance was truly the the best thing about the finale.
Where (we hope) she's going: I much prefer smart—if a little batty—Shoshanna to the inanely rambling Shoshanna the audience was subjected to at the beginning of the season. Let's hope her big moments in the finale foretell a more comprehensive storyline for her going forward.
Where she is: Jessa, like Shoshanna, often feels ignored by Lena Dunham and the show's writers. She, at times, gets big dramatic moments, only to later be forgotten while the show dwells on Hannah's neuroses. In the finale, Jessa—seemingly over her withdrawal syndromes—was talked into buying drugs for Louise Lasser's elderly artist Beadie. She begrudgingly obliged only for Beadie to ultimately decide that she wanted to live.
Where (we hope) she's going: If Jessa's going to be a drug addict, let's deal with the consequences of her drug addiction, instead of having her go from junkie to seemingly recovered caretaker in the course of three episodes.