The series finale of Girls was on Sunday (April 16) and it ended on a rather questionable note. The HBO series focuses on four twenty-something millennial “girls” living in New York, trying to survive the big city while achieving their grandiose dreams– kind of like a more annoying version of Sex and the City. The series mostly revolves around Hanna, played by series creator and controversy queen, Lena Dunham. She’s a narcissistic, self-absorbed millennial battling with weight and mental health issues. She also aspires to be a writer in a world where everyone thinks they’ve got what it takes to be successful. Yeah, that was kind of a dig at myself.
I picked up the series in the fourth season, thanks to my wife, and spent the majority of the time talking about how awful and annoying every single character was. Despite that, there was something about the series that hooked me. I ended up starting at the beginning after season four ended in order to catch up on what I had missed. What I found the second time around was something quite different.
Girls is a series that will annoy the shit out of you. For me, it’s two-fold: One because I hate all the stupid decisions they all make, and two… because I’ve made a lot of them myself. You see, for every moment my wife and I would yell at the TV, there was always a secondary moment of self-reflection because we’ve been in the same situation too. Maybe our situations didn’t unfold exactly like the ones on Girls, but they were similar enough to relate whole-heartedly.
We’re millennials. We graduated high school in 2006 to one of the worst economic recessions in US history. Job markets changed seemingly overnight and left us feeling uneasy and lost. What our parents did to be successful wasn’t going to work for us. All the guidance we received from our parents/elders seemed unfounded– given that their generation led us to where we are now. Our 20s were (and still are) a confusing time of self-discovery sprinkled with narcissistic tendencies… and way too many moments of uncertainty where we went crawling back to our parents for help.
For those that aren’t millennials, you might just think the characters are selfish assholes whining about first world issues. And you’re not wrong, but you have to understand that we were raised to be like that. We were sheltered children, raised through praise and participation trophies in a time of economic stability. We were worried about things like Pokemon cards– we didn’t have the constant fear of nuclear annihilation. So when we were thrown out into the world on our own, the reality of everything was significantly different than what we had been led to believe. The world was cruel; kicking us down at every opportunity while simultaneously blaming us for the problems we weren’t old enough to contribute to. It was our self-worth and narcissism that kept us going, and that’s what I see in the characters portrayed in Girls.
As for the final season, it ends with all the characters going their separate way; learning that through all of their struggles, maybe they were never good for one another. Hanna gets pregnant and decides that she’s going to keep the baby. She accepts a writing/teaching job outside of New York City and moves to a house– a stark contract to her living/job situations throughout the series. The series finale episode takes place 5 months in the future, with Hanna’s baby (Grover) already born. Grover won’t breast feed and Hanna is having a tough time dealing with the situation; often treating her baby like she would any of her boyfriends. She’s frustrated and reacts selfishly to the situation– leaving for a stroll after a temper tantrum while her mother and Marnie take care of Grover. It’s on this outburst walk that Hanna stumbles into a teenage girl who is fleeing her house. Naturally, we all assume the worst, in that, this kid’s in danger. It’s revealed that this teen was merely upset that her mother wanted her to do homework before seeing friends… and it causes Hanna to have her own moment of self-reflection, as her outburst earlier was just as ridiculous. She proceeds to lecture the teen to no avail and ends up walking home to find her mother and Marnie sitting on the porch. And this is where the episode really shines.
They have every right to be upset with Hanna, but choose to say nothing. Hanna sits between them silently and there’s a welcoming warmth about the situation. Grover starts crying, and they all get up to service the baby. Hanna nods and says she’s got it. We follow Hanna as she greets Grover. They sit down as she tries to comfort her son, rocking him in a chair. It’s then that Grover begins to breastfeed on his own. The camera pans in on Hanna’s face, where we see an expression of peace and comfort for the first time in the series. It’s genuinely comforting as a viewer to know that Hanna not only found peace, but did so by living for someone other than herself. My fellow Drunk Dork writer disagrees, and you’re free to read her article.
(We also disagree greatly about Kylo Ren. Finish what grandpa started, buddy!)
You see, it speaks volumes to me as a millennial. When we first stepped out into the world, we too had grandiose dreams and ambitions. They were very specific and by god, we were going to achieve those dreams even if it killed us. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve had to grow and be more realistic about how we achieve those goals. Hanna gets everything she wanted in the first season, just not exactly how she had planned. I’d say the same was true for many of my peers. In one way or another, we’ve ended up where we wanted to… just maybe not how we originally planned. So to see that happen for Hanna, it was reassuring to my wife and I that we were on the right path, despite what life always throws at us.
Anyway, what are your thoughts and comments? Let us know!