No blog about strong female friendships in the mid-2010s could exist without discussing Girls. It is a show about female friendships that are strong in their intensity and intimacy but weak in their emotional support and stability. It just finished its 4th season, which I feel was one of its strongest. As a show with so many maddening characters, I genuinely relished in the difficulties many of the main characters faced.
Famously, Hannah went to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop for a few quirky episodes where she got pounded by classmates who did not appreciate her writing as much as she did. Her inability to handle criticism was just so true to her character’s rampant and unreflective narcissism.
She turns to teaching and quickly establishes an inappropriately chummy friendship with one of her students culminating in an unwise piercing. At the end of the season, she ultimately moves on from Adam with the adorable and likeable Fran, who I think is way too good for her. We see that Hannah grows, albeit slightly.
In one episode where the girls prove their friendship to Hannah, Shoshanna demonstrates her superior friendship skills by not only arriving first, but genuinely empathizing with Hannah’s plight. Jessa reveals her inability to care for Hannah or anyone outside of herself, and Marnie and Hannah try to resume their tough-love intense friendship. My only disappointment is that we didn’t get the catharsis of the not-the-Hamptons weekend of last season:
In one of my favorite parts of the season, Adam and Jessa are both jilted by the one-two punch of Mimi-Rose Howard and her former lover, Ace (played by a fantastic Zachary Quinto). Both new characters totally fuck with Adam and Jessa (and to a lesser extent Hannah), giving our manipulative characters a run for their money.
Shoshanna, my personal favorite, gives zero fucks about the other girls. I honestly think she is good with strong female friendship and her removal/ostracism/self-exile from the group is her response to how bad the others are at making and keeping healthy friendships. In the season finale, she’s accepting a job in Tokyo. I second this gentleman in hoping for a spin-off series of Shosh in Tokyo.
And now to Marnie. She grew not at all this season. In fact, I think her character has slowly receded from the first episode. I delight in her engagement to Desi because I know it will all fail. I remain committed to the conviction that this show is about Hannah and Marnie’s relationship, and therefore they are the couple we need to see break up and get back together again. I envision the series finale ending with these two raising Marnie and Desi’s child together after he abandons her, or riding off Thelma-and-Louise-style into the Grand Canyon. They deserve each other, even if they bring each other down.
I’ve also been reading Lena Dunham’s book of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl, and I still find her equally parts frustrating and fascinating. I’m convinced she can only have one kind of relationship with women: one without boundaries that gets very serious very quickly and either lasts forever or fizzles out quickly. These relationships, and the many plot points that come directly from her own life (e.g. Shoshanna being denied sex because she’s a virgin, Hannah’s OCD, Jessa working at a store selling overpriced baby clothes), are why people think there is no difference between Lena and her character Hannah. Sexism has nothing to do with it.
Forgive my unfocused blog post