Welcome to the Season 2 finale of Girls — or as I like to think of it, the most horrifyingly awful ending to a regressive Hollywood rom-com that you never wanted to see.
Just last week, we saw caveman creep Adam sexually degrading his lovely girlfriend Natalia (Shiri Appleby), and yet before the visual of the, er, fruits of his handiwork could be scrubbed from our minds (and from Natalia’s chest), we’re now forced to swallow series creator Lena Dunham’s reimagining of this unredeemable character. Look! It’s Adam running through the streets of Brooklyn, shirtless and sweaty, music swelling like he’s Tom Hanks about to stumble upon a young Meg Ryan in a rainstorm, and coming to the rescue of our damsel protagonist in distress! And as if he’s not violent enough/Hannah’s not pathetic enough, he’s got to kick in her door, pull the dusty rose comforter from over her trembling form, and cradle her in his arms like a tiny baby (before they begin to kiss).
Jesus, Mary and Gloria Steinem, if this is the voice of a generation speaking, then it’s time for said voice to take a sabbatical.
Why am I so angry? Maybe because I’ve enjoyed so much of Girls‘ first two seasons — the comic horrors of Hannah and her friends navigating the sexual minefields of modern big-city dating, of trying to solidify their financial and professional futures in an economy that can’t pay them enough to cover rent and their student loans. At its best, Girls has been sharp and funny and unapologetic in its idea that young women can be messy and promiscuous and infuriating, but still have a core loyalty to their friends and a desire to make something of themselves, even if they don’t yet know what that something is.
But now, in the final two episodes of Season 2, we’ve discovered Hannah’s secret battle with obsessive compulsive disorder — a trifle strange that such a perpetual victim had never uttered a word about the condition in the show’s previous 18 episodes, no? — and suddenly the whole enterprise seems as ugly as one of Hannah’s ill-fitting rompers. It’s not just that Hannah is making a bad decision in needing to be resuced by a semi-stalkery, sexually malvelolent manchild. It’s that Lena Dunham is trying to sell us this fetid turn of events as a thing of beauty by wrapping it in a cheap, pink romcom bow. Perhaps just as bad, none of her female characters ever seem to have a chance to break away from being defined by the men in their lives — be it Marnie mooning over her suddenly monied ex or Shoshanna retreating from the older boyfriend who’s not ambitious enough or Hannah trying to garner our sympathies because, in her mid-20s, her “Daddy, being an adult is hard!” breakdowns don’t result in immediate financial and/or emotional bailouts. (Seriously, when was the last time Shoshanna said/did anything related to her classes or her career ambitions? You know this fiercely weird chick has a much richer inner life than worrying about Ray 24/7!) Of course, maybe Jessa is off finding her own fulfillment, but apparently that’s not interesting enough for TV.
Whew. Okay, rant over. Let’s recap the week’s proceedings:
* Ray, determined to quell Shoshanna’s fears about his lack of ambition, convinces his boss to give him a better title and more responsibility at Grumpy’s new Brooklyn Heights branch. Turns out, though, Shosh has more pressing concerns: “Sometimes I love you the way that, like, I feel sorry for a monkey. Like, they need so much help and they’re in such an ugly cage. You know what I mean?” Alas, the show’s best character reveals, she doesn’t want to be the only thing Ray loves/doesn’t hate. “Maybe I can real with your black soul better when I’m older,” she confesses, “but I can’t hadle it now.” Ray huffs that there’s a difference between negativity and critical thinking, but deep down, I think he knows better: He can’t even respect Shosh’s joy of going out to dinner! And thus, it’s splitsville for Girls‘ most delightfully wacky/winning duo — a sad, but ultimately inevitable/realistic turn of events. (Bee tee dubs, j’adore Shosh’s butterfly dress!)
* Marnie, at brunch with Charlie (after he’d rigorously made a breakfast out of her — sorry if that’s crude — it’s just not the kind of scene about which one can be all that polite) starts romanticizing their revisited connection: “We have all these experiences so we can settle down,” she coos, but then misinterprets his silence, causes a loud scene and storms off. When he chases her down on the sidewalk and she admits her goal in life is to make him nighttime snacks, have his “little brown babies” and eventually watch him die, he tears up and tells her it’s all he’s ever wanted to hear. “I love you: Maybe I’m an idiot for it, but I always have.” Does this mean happily ever after? Or is Marnie merely/temporarily settling for an idea of domestic bliss because she can’t really figure out what she wants to do for a living? Surely girlfriend has some goals that haven’t been completely subsumbed by this sudden need to make Charlie the center of her universe. I’m pretty sure of it, or at least rooting for it.
* And finally, we come to Adam and Hannah. In the episode’s best scene, Natalia — somehow forgiving last week’s “get on all fours” debacle — winds up back in bed with Adam. When she expresses her pleasure at what he’s doing, he takes a turn for the awful (as usual): “You’re a dirty whore and you love my c**k,” he grunts, to which Natalia replies, “No, I can like your c**k, and not be a whore. Do you understand?” (A hearty round of applause for a female Girls‘ character confidently expressing herself! Maybe Natalia can step in and replace MIA Jessa as a core pal in Season 3?)
Meanwhile, Hannah is mired in an OCD nightmare and a ringing in her ears from last episode Q-tip incident that has her book editor threatening to sue if she doesn’t produce her unsubmitted pages. When Hannah calls her dad and asks for money to “restore a little freedom to my creative process,” he wishes aloud he hadn’t let her fake sick and skip school so often as a girl. (The night’s funniest line: Hannah declaring did indeed diagonse her own scarlet feverfrom reading Louisa May Alcott.) Marnie swings by to visit her former roomie, but Hannah (eating Cool Whip from the tub) hides behind her bed and pretends she’s not home, as Marnie enters, sees a rather telling line typed on Hannah’s screen (“A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance”) and then exits while stealing/reclaiming a candleholder.
Hannah then proceeds to cut her own bangs to match those of Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan, and winds up turning to drug-addict downstairs neighbor Laird to finish the job she’d been botching. When he finishes a (decent) haircut, Hannah unloads how difficult she’s finding adulthood, noting that when she was a child and she’d broken something, her dad used to sweep in and clean it up so she didn’t get hurt. Now, “No one really cares if I get cut with glass,” she pouts, and while I know it’s supposed to make me feel sorry for her, all I want to do is yell, “Grow the f*** up!” When Hannah collapses in an OCD fit, then misinterprets Laird’s concern for a sexual advance, he calls her “the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met.” She confirms his suspicions with this apology: “I didn’t think of you as a person and I understand now that was wrong.”
Unable to reach Jessa and unwilling to call “anorexic” Marnie or Shosh, Hannah FaceTimes Adam, feigns being okay, then finally admits she’s “really, really scared.” This appears to be a total turn-on for Adam — the idea that he can be the rescuer rather than an equal in a relationship with a fully functioning woman who’s able to express her wants and needs — and he sprints to the subway without bothering to put on a shirt, rushes to Hannah’s apartment and “saves the day” (as described in the intro to this recap).
Hannah (with hospital tag still on her wrist): You’re here.
Adam: I was always here.
Me? I’m not sure I’ll be here next season. Come on, Lena Dunham. You can do better.
What did you think of the Season 2 finale of Girls? Do you share my anger and irritation, or did I somehow miss the point? Sound off in the comments, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!