Posturing, artifice, delusion. These three words are the most reliable thematic signposts I can come up with to summarize this season of Girls. If the first season was mostly spent establishing the overall vibe of the series as well as the characters’ basic traits and habits, then this season was all about pushing those habits and that vibe to the extreme, or, alternatively, slapping an entirely different label on the same features and waiting for us to see through the rebranding. There are the obvious examples of this push toward caricature, like “One Man’s Trash” and “On All Fours,” both of which basically functioned as fetid chum buckets for the Internet’s starving snark sharks. Then there are the small but persistent plot points like Hannah’s endless parade of excuses for her shiftlessness, or Ray and Shoshanna’s angst over how they should define their relationship, or every single thing Booth Jonathan did. The smallest investigations of these themes, of which I think I’ve been most keenly aware from week to week, consist of countless minor moments in which these characters assume new identities on a whim, either successfully fooling themselves or dramatically failing to pull off these ill-advised redefinitions. “Together,” the season two finale, resolved each of the main characters’ season-long plot threads (besides that of Jessa, RIP) along these lines.
Take Charlie and Marnie. No, seriously, take them out of this show and give them their own Judd Apatow-produced spinoff movie titled Life’s Lemons, which consists entirely of people throwing phones and arguing about #tweets or #apps before giving two long monologues—one a failed “traditional” rom-com confession and the other a goofy but honest speech that improbably redeems the speaker—and ending up together in a marriage that might not be perfect but is consistent with the crazy way that life sometimes gives you lemons. Is my disdain for these two characters apparent?
Look, there might be hope for these two, or, at least, there might be hope for how this show presents them. When Marnie leans on their personal mythology in her bid to get Charlie to give their relationship another shot, it’s obnoxious and saccharine. When Charlie outright admits that his intense, protracted, ten-episode Douche Quest has been undertaken with the sole intention of getting Marnie to give this exact spiel, it’s really obnoxious and saccharine. Then, when these two are shown walking arm-in-arm together during the episode’s closing montage, looking happy as can be, it seems like intentional overkill. We haven’t forgotten that these two people are still very immature and not at all self-aware, and there’s really nothing realistic about the possibility that they will ultimately work out. For this reason, I think there’s a small chance that Girls wants us to distrust this new development. People don’t stay happy for long on this show, and the lie that Charlie and Marnie are telling themselves is not a durable one.
In fact, their endgame might look something like Ray and Shoshanna’s. I was a little suspicious of Rayshanna’s mutual breakdown/love confession on a subway bench in “It’s a Shame About Ray,” and it looks like the fundamental incompatibility that they glossed over in that scene finally caught up with them by season’s end. Looking back, I’m not sure what their relationship was intended to accomplish from a narrative perspective, but it did manage to give Ray a significantly larger role and deepen Shoshanna’s character to a small extent. It also helped to constantly foreground this season’s fixation on labels, from Shoshanna’s early-season freakout about the fact that Ray had surreptitiously moved in to Ray’s brief brainstorm with his boss, Herm (Colin Quinn), about which new job title is most likely to impress Shoshanna. Alas, his final concept, District Chief Logistics and Operations Supervisor, doesn’t cut it because these two have been doomed from the start. Ray wasn’t comfortable with himself when they got together, and he never really worked to improve his self-image. Shoshanna was a hairless Furby with a broken motion sensor when they got together, but she eventually discovered that she liked having sex with other men. No amount of talking about what they were or what they needed to become would have corrected for these developments.
Then there’s Hannah, who learns that her failure to meet her e-book deadline will probably result in expensive litigation. When she provides reassurances to her editor, hangs up, and anxiously sings to herself, “I’m gonna write a book in a day. I’m gonna write a full book in one day,” it’s easy to identify with her panic. I’ve done the same thing with academic papers, thank-you notes, applications, and television reviews, and my outcomes are similar to Hannah’s in that I spend the day doing everything except the monumental task I challenged myself with. And then, without fail, I blame a million insane factors for my failure. When rationalizing her botched deadline, Hannah cites her self-inflicted health issues (her dad reveals this to be a longtime habit of hers), her roommate’s absence, and her sudden and overwhelming need to call up Laird (remember Laird? [http://www.comicsbulletin.com/reviews/5363/girls-203-bad-friend-review/]) to give her a Carey Mulligan haircut. “I bet she’d like a mulligan on that ’do!” we all say to ourselves before realizing that Hannah’s depression spiral has landed her on her dirty living room floor, where she gets put in her place by a junkie who no longer feels any attraction to her specifically because of her horrid personality. Whether or not this is the low point for Hannah is debatable, but it’s certainly low enough to be the low point of many normal people’s lives. It’s a difficult but fascinating moment to watch, because Hannah has put herself in a situation where she desperately needs help but also doesn’t deserve it in the slightest.
This brings us to the season’s final scene, which consists of Adam’s gr
and, romantic sprint to Hannah’s apartment to save her from herself. This scene annoyed the shit out of me. I liked the start, in which Adam angrily dismantled that weird boat thing he’d been building for some time (how was he supposed to get that out of the apartment?), and I also thought his irritation with the iPhone was charming. But then there’s all this stuff, with the shirtless running and the acoustic guitar music and the door-kicking-in. Look, I suppose it’s good that Adam and Hannah are back together, but it didn’t have to be this super corny take on a super hoary trope. They could just have easily resolved their differences by, I don’t know, sexting or something.
It’s very similar to the Marnie-Charlie reunion in that it’s obvious that these two people are too flawed to deserve a happily ever after at this point, so I’m not sure how to take it. Is this scene a parody of itself? Is it a commentary on how these sad, self-absorbed people view their trivial romantic flailing? Or was I supposed to be choking up at the fact that Adam can finally—finally!—jizz on someone’s chest without having to ask permission first? I guess the easiest way for me to understand this scene is that it’s the biggest, most misguided relabeling in a season full of them. Adam and Hannah are back together, “righting” the “wrong” that initially sent them both on their respective descents into madness. Now Hannah’s OCD will go away and she’ll refocus as a writer. And Adam will be able to open up to someone with whom he is remarkably compatible for being such a weird ass. Things are as they were meant to be. All is right in their tiny corner of Brooklyn.
I expect it will all fall apart next season.
John Bender is a Twitter anarchist with questionable opinions about celebrity lifestyles and the Lost finale. He edits erotic novels by day and works tirelessly by night to improve upon his personal record of 41.06 in the Mecha Marathon minigame in Mario Party 2. He also plays in Fitness.