The article below contains spoilers for "Together," the March 17th, 2013 episode of "Girls."
"Girls" wrapped up its second season last night with "Together," an episode directed by Lena Dunham and cowritten by her and executive producer Judd Apatow that offered two remarkably conventional romantic comedy moments underneath a gloss of Brooklyn quirk and sexual frankness. First Marnie (Allison Williams) and her ex Charlie (Christopher Abbott), with whom she'd started sleeping again, hashed out their relationship over brunch, a discussion that found with the former plunging into the exact same blind assumptions she'd made with Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone) a few episodes earlier. "Are you trying to tell me that we're not dating?!" she demanded when he demurred, and after apparently not communicating at all since the pair linked up again before she confessed to him that she wanted to see him every morning, to make him snacks at night and to eventually have his little brown (?) babies and watch him die.
Hannah's arc was similarly and disappointingly retrograde, despite a poignant evocation of a feeling many people have had in their floundering early days (or, hell, supposedly stable middle ones) of adulthood -- that longing for someone to swoop in and take care of you. Panicked over her passed book deadline (with her editor David, played by John Cameron Mitchell, being gloriously unsympathetic -- "you are the future, I guess") and in the grip of OCD, she's spent her days at home googling possible illnesses, hiding from friends and giving herself a terrible haircut with the help of downstairs neighbor Laird (Jon Glaser). A call to her father (Peter Scolari) revealed he felt that she was doing the twentysomething equivalent of pretending to be sick in order to not go to school -- a judgment both true and not, her predicament half genuinely problematic and half self-inflicted.
Last season, "Girls" ended with Adam storming out on Hannah after she misunderstood his offer to move in with her -- he got hit by a car, she fell asleep on the train ride home and woke up in Coney Island, robbed of her purse but still in possession of cake. One can't begrudge the show wanting a more uplifting turn this time around, but to give two of its four characters scenes that, combined, would be the shabby chic equivalent of the running-through-the-airport ending of a Meg Ryan movie felt alarmingly phony even with Jessa (Jemima Kirke) still absent and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) making the most grown-up move in the show when breaking up with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) because of his overwhelming negativity.
"Girls" is bound to move from being show about post-college life to one about twentysomethings, a minor designation that, watching "Together," also seemed important. Hannah and Marnie and Jessa and Shoshanna needn't shake the world nor make any dramatic discoveries about themselves and the nature of existence, but they do need to slowly grow and change, even if it's in ways that aren't that positive. This season ended with the sense that, despite all those experiences Marnie told Charlie they'd accrued, most of the characters were basically back where they began -- and the show is striving to position that as a good thing when it doesn't feel that way.