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by Alison Willmore
March 18, 2013 1:11 PM
6 Comments
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'Girls' Closes Its Season With a (Mostly) Happy Ending, But Was It Earned?

Adam Driver and Lena Dunham in 'Girls' Jessica Miglio/HBO

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.

It was the kind of over the top, emotional admission that an earlier incarnation of the show might have smacked down with a flat rejection (Charlie's certainly earned one at this point), but "Girls" seemed determined to wrap its year up with a mostly happy ending, and so instead Marnie's burst of earnestness prompted a similar one from her would-be beau. Charlie told her that he's always loved her and that everything good he's done he's done for her, making it okay for the moment to close with a reminder that he's become conveniently rich. All of Marnie's problems are, for now, solved, and she seems to have learned very little.

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.

Alone, her ear still ringing from last week's q-tip incident, Hannah was clearly feeling this opportunity to make her writerly dreams come true slip away -- and so along came Adam (Adam Driver) to the rescue, after she accidentally FaceTimed him and he spotted her in the midst of counting her own blinks. His (shirtless, of course) run to her apartment (with a pause to take the subway) was funny and characteristically odd, but its off-kilter swooniness was counterbalanced by how unearned it felt. Was there really nothing that Hannah could do to help herself from her self-created crisis? Maybe Adam's mixture of aggression and almost maternal care fits perfectly with Hannah's disastrousness, but his scooping her up from the bed where she was hiding from the world didn't seem like a charming reunion but a romanticization of being rescued, of not doing anything to help yourself.

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.

This season of "Girls" had seen some radical highs and lows, from Marnie and Elijah's (Andrew Rannells) excruciating hookup and the demise of Jessa's marriage to Thomas-John (Chris O'Dowd) to the meandering episodes that took the show to Staten Island, upstate New York and a high-end Brooklyn brownstone. The marked difference between last week's extremely dark turn, in which every character embarked on an act of self-destruction, and the strenuous upturn of last night finale reveal a show in search of what's next. "Girls" is a show about being young and about the terrible and sometimes wonderful aspects of figuring things out for the first time and often failing at them. But that state of formlessness is also, in its nature, a fairly narrow one, as people slowly determine what they want and who they are and start moving in directions guided by those things.

"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.

6 Comments

  • Benchmark | March 20, 2013 2:53 AMReply

    I was really disappointed in that ending... All those boys went back to the girls when the whole season seemed to be about establishing how well the boys did without the girls and how badly the girls did without the boys!! I can't BELIEVE Charlie went back to Marni... Lame...
    I agree with Corey3rd... The season belonged to Adam Driver... He was great... I really hope Lena comes back with better in Season 3......

  • GIRLS SUCKS | March 18, 2013 7:40 PMReply

    The episode felt like they were trying to spoof the romcom, but in the moments it could have broken convention, it followed all the way through with incredibly stupid moments--if they were in any movie, they would be noticed and criticized, but after all, the voice of a generation can do no wrong. This episode should expose Dunham as a fraud, if nothing else can. Further disappointed that Apatow was involved because he seems to be entering territory in his career that he's unable to navigate. He should stick to comedies, as he's been responsible for some of the best. His streak in the late 2000's is still unmatched. Girls isn't the list bit funny, with or without his contribution.

  • DevilAdvocate | March 18, 2013 2:54 PMReply

    Love is never earned or a reward. it is what it is to whomever is envolved...it´s not about theories or fights.that´s why this was a great series.

  • Jim T | March 18, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    What in the world makes you think the endings were happy? Like life, there are moments that seem like all is good and love has conquered all, but look at the characters and you'll see that nothing will work out as planned. Adam can't save Hannah and vice versa. And Marnie and Charlie? Please. One look at Marnie's happy face as she walks down the street and I felt a lot of unease. Marnie will get cold feet. "Girls" seems to be a show that critics (and a lot of viewers) only look at on the surface. Oh, it looks like a happy ending and that's so out of character, so it's a cheap shot. In my mind, the ending was perfectly uneasy and fraught with problems for all the characters. We've all had those big romantic moments when it seemed like everything would work out because we had someone who loves us and then life slaps us across the face. The slap will come next season for sure.

  • Corey3rd | March 18, 2013 2:40 PMReply

    No mention of the great Colin Quinn getting to play the coffeeshop emperor? The last surviving member of Remote Control - the last cool gameshow?

    This season belonged to Adam Driver. He's the most put upon boyfriend in NYC since Donald on "That Girl." It's shame he can't share the screen with the impeccable hair of Ted Bessell.

  • shelly | March 18, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    you nailed it. they could have pulled off that cheesy ending if they had at all earned it. but just last week Adam was with a much nicer girl doing incredibly horrible things to her and they can't switch him to Mr Darcy without some actual storytelling getting him there.