Brooklyn provided the perfect backdrop for four twenty-something women coming to terms with life, their complicated emotions and relationships in HBO’s hit comedy series, Girls. It was the anti-Sex And The City. Grimy, naked, raw, achingly honest…and crazy fun. The series finale, “Latching,” fittingly written by show creator, Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner, aired on Sunday night.
“A voice of a generation” is what Hannah Horvath called herself when the series began six seasons ago. Dunham, who played Hannah, was always the heartbeat of the series, herself, arguably the voice of a generation of young, ambitious, empowered women, looking for their own place in the world.
Many of us could relate to Hannah’s doubts about who she was supposed to become after being pushed out of the nest by her parents. She spent the next few years figuring it out, along with her girls Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet).
Playing the blame game and running away from taking responsibility for herself were Hannah’s calling cards, whether it was dealing with issues in her intense and rocky relationship with Adam (Adam Driver), her career or at times, her friendships. But in the two episodes leading up to Sunday night’s finale, there was much needed resolution.
Adam and Hannah spent one last day together, following months of acrimony caused by Adam’s relationship with Jessa, a betrayal that cut deep. Walking through the city, the two mused about raising Hannah’s baby together but by the end of the night, sitting across from each other at a diner, Hannah tearfully lets it sink in that a future for the two will never happen. Adam knows it too. It is a painful moment of clarity, but closure both needed.
After multiple career fits and starts, Hannah finally lands a “grown up” job, a teaching position upstate. Mulling it over, she reaches out to Marnie who ignores her calls, eventually ending up on Shoshanna’s doorstep. Shoshanna as it turns out, is throwing an engagement party that Hannah wasn’t invited to. From Shoshanna’s viewpoint, the slight is perfectly reasonable as Hannah failed to tell her about her pregnancy. Marnie is there, and so is Jessa. There is surprising moment of catharsis and healing between Hannah and Jessa. Jessa apologizes to Hannah for everything that has gone down and her genuine emotion is greeted in kind by Hannah who accepts the gesture with tears, laughter and grace.
Sunday’s finale took us upstate and out of the madness of Brooklyn. Five months on, Hannah is now mother to a baby boy, Grover. Marnie, who declares herself Hannah’s best friend once and for all, has offered to help Hannah raise Grover which she accepts. But motherhood is hard. Grover won’t breastfeed. Marnie presents the perfect target as Hannah takes her many frustrations out on her friend. When Marnie reaches her breaking point, she calls in reinforcements – Hannah’s mom, Laureen (Becky Ann Baker).
Tough love is what Loreen is doling out, causing Hannah to bolt. She runs away as she has so often done in the past. But a chance encounter with a spoiled teenager whom Hannah thinks is fleeing an abuser, gives her the perspective she needs. She offers her jeans to the sniffling girl, trying to ascertain what happened to her. It turns out she is just fleeing her mother and some unfinished homework. An incensed Hannah gives the girl a good tongue lashing, in that moment, seeing herself in her wide eyes. Hannah sees her own rebellion and lack of taking responsibility for herself. She sees all that she has put her own mother through.
Hannah walks back home under the moonlight, pantless and enlightened. She is now a mother and ready to face the responsibility head on. No more blaming Marnie, who has done some growing up of her own, putting the needs of others – in this case, Hannah – above hers. And no more blaming her mother. In the final scene, Hannah successfully breastfeeds Grover, a triumph that forecasts good things for her future. She is finally a woman. She has finally grown up.
Girls’ final act was both funny and poignant, a thread that has run through the series from the start. Dunham and Williams both pulled out strong performances, closing the final chapter together, just as they started. The series proves that women don’t have to be a size zero to be desirable or sexual, and that women can be messy, complicated, unsure of themselves, but also empowered in self discovery. The fact that the series was created by Dunham, a young woman coming into her own while making the show, is important. Dunham’s point of view was emotionally honest, unafraid and real, a voice that is sure to be heard for may years to come.
PHOTO: MARK SCHAFER/ HBO