Apologies. I’m going to start this review of the latest work from one of modern pop culture’s great and flawed masters of trolling (Lena Dunham) with a reference to the latest work from another of modern pop culture’s great and flawed masters of trolling (Kanye West). On West’s The Life of Pablo, the young emcee Chance the Rapper shares the advice that West gave him about rapping: Make “the bars so hard that there ain’t one gosh darn part you can’t tweet.”
Beneath the social-media reference and hip-hop context, there’s an eternal definition of excellent writing. Dunham and her team basically have it nailed on Girls.
The fifth season of HBO’s comedy about white Brooklyn 20- and 30-somethings arrives into a culture fatigued by years of discussion of it. Dunham has said that the show will end next year: a valid personal/business decision that might feed into the common impression of Girls as a televised think-piece. But it would be a shame if burnout over arguing about Hannah Horvath prevented anyone who enjoyed Girls in the past from tuning in for season five, which, as a work of entertainment, is as sharp as the show’s ever been.
The premiere tackles a situation that’s plenty familiar in film and TV: a wedding day. Girls has even been here before, in its first-season finale when Jessa got hitched. But where that was a surprise affair, this wedding is as meticulously planned as you’d expect from the bride, Type-A avatar Marnie. There are no grand twists on Bridezilla tropes here. Feet get cold; mascara gets runny. The first line of the episode has Marnie worrying that it’s going to rain, and, spoiler, it eventually does. At one point, in a typically meta moment, Hannah reflects that “it’s like a really bad rom-com that’s really obvious and not funny.”