In pretty much every way, the final season premiere of Girls was more of the same.
For starters, Shoshanna starred in what I would generously estimate to be about two minutes of this 40-minute episode. Despite being the only vaguely likeable character – or maybe because of that – Lena Dunham and her writers sideline Shosh as the peppy afterthought of the group, somebody so lost and wide-eyed that the joke gets funnier the less we see of her.
Marnie continues her longstanding tradition of being unwittingly bratty, getting into arguments and using sex with men she doesn’t care about to reconcile those facts.
Elijah, as usual, steals every scene he’s in, like when he asks Hannah to borrow her room for a 15-person networking orgy while she’s away in the Hamptons.
‘These women are obnoxious, Difficult and horrible decision-makers… If you’re still watching the show after six years, for whatever reason, you’re fine with that’
Jessa, who now seems firmly caught in some bizarre emotional entanglement of sweaty sex and manic laughter with Adam, a.k.a. the new male face of our generation, returned to her status quo living a dispassionate, slovenly existence. This after a brief hiatus from the latter, trying vainly, as she did in recent season, to become a person of value. In probably the most memorable scene of the episode, Jessa spends an uncomfortably long time sitting naked on her and Adam’s gaudy couch, eating yogurt (“yoh-gurt”) straight from the tub as Ray, hoping to move back to the apartment for a bit, twitches in endless anxiety. Finally, she gets bored, tosses the yogurt on the ground and walks away, giving us what I can only imagine was meant to be a defiant, lazy, comical full-frontal view of her bush.
Of course, it was far from the only moment of startling nudity. Dunham seemed particularly insistent on finding moments to bare her breasts this episode: in a wetsuit, in a bunk bed, on the beach, wherever else she wants. It’s excessively indulgent, but that proud meta-narcissism has always defined Girls, and if you’re still watching the show, you know what to expect.
Ultimately, I think, that’s the takeaway from this episode: These women are obnoxious, difficult, horrible decision-makers and completely unpleasant toward virtually everyone they meet. If you’re still watching the show after six years, for whatever reason, you’re fine with that.
Hannah’s latest dilemma is especially frustrating for any journalist viewers. She’s assigned a perfect story, to crash a yuppie ladies’ surf weekend, by a confident magazine editor played by Chelsea Peretti, who loves Hannah’s style but seems to grow slightly less enamoured with her over the course of their first face-to-face interview. All Hannah has to do is be her anxious New Yorker self in Montauk, surrounded by upper-class women who pine for sexual validation from their surf instructors.
The story could be great – it’s a perfect fit for her – but Hannah can’t escape how much she hates it, and instead of seeing the bigger picture, she, like many immature writers, can only think about herself. She ends up drinking slushy blue alcohol, grinding on the dance floor, hooking up with surf instructor Paul-Louis (played by Riz Ahmed) and charging it all to her magazine.
“I don’t remember much about last night, but I don’t feel violated in any way,” she says the next morning. Paul-Louis, the epitome of chill, responds: “Nice.”
The rest of their brief relationship plays out better than expected. Paul-Louis is vaguely inconsiderate but too clueless to blame, commenting on how much pubic hair she has – not as a dig, but out of genuine awe – and staying calm when Hannah expresses rage. He’s calmer than Adam, cooler than Fran and less neurotic than anyone she’s met in Brooklyn. He preaches love, not hate, a concept so novel to Hannah that she has trouble grasping it before asking him if he’s Buddhist. He thinks for a moment, then says, “I don’t think so.”
In short, he’s a perfect match for Hannah, offering some much-needed equilibrium, but this, too, turns out to be a fantasy she can’t really live in.
The girls of Girls have gone through a lot of cosmetic changes since the show’s first season – different jobs, lovers and looks. But really, nothing has changed in their lives, and the repetition makes us wonder if anything ever will.