When Girls premiered back in 2012, it was immediately compared to another female-fronted, New York-set HBO series, Sex and the City. But where SATC capped off its acclaimed six-season run by giving fans exactly what they wanted—Carrie dumped the Russian for Big and Paris for New York, and the show’s fabulously dressed foursome lived happily ever after (we'll just pretend those movies never happened, kay?)—Lena Dunham and the Girls crew seemingly aren’t in the business of TV-fan wish fulfillment, if last night’s underwhelming series finale is anything to go by.
Titled “Latching,” the episode is centered on Hannah and her difficulties with breast-feeding. It’s a rite of passage of new motherhood, of course, but it admittedly feels low stakes, especially coming off a truly great penultimate episode where Hannah faced several life-changing choices (new job, new home, the dissolution of friendships), and even more so for a show’s final episode.
We open with a nice throwback to the first scene of the pilot, where Hannah and Marnie spoon in bed together. Marnie surprises Hannah at her new upstate home and pulls an Adam, telling her that she wants to help raise her baby, which Hannah has named Grover after Paul-Louis's suggestion. (“Oh, Jesus Christ,” says Hannah and the rest of the planet.) She argues that she loves Hannah the most and she’s the best at being her friend (both debatable), so she wins the prize of a Full House-esque future.
As we flash-forward five months (yes, that means no dramatic birth scenes in the finale—you’ll just have to live with Caroline’s bathtub birth from season four), we see that that future isn’t all John Stamos and laugh tracks. Marnie is micromanaging Hannah’s breast pumping and swaddling abilities; Hannah is frustrated by Marnie’s Tracy Chapman sing-alongs and the fact that Marnie won’t try her “liquid gold” breast milk.
When Marnie calls in reinforcements—namely, Loreen—Hannah snaps: “It’s not matching up to what you imagined, which was a fun, zany sitcom starring Brittany Snow and the rest of the cast of Pitch Perfect just carrying a cute little baby…but this is reality!” (If it’s a premeditated response to the backlash that would consume social media following the episode’s end, it’s a thinly veiled one.) Mama Loreen has little sympathy for her daughter’s histrionics—“You know who else is in emotional pain? Fucking everyone”—which causes Hannah to take off.
During her walkabout, Hannah comes across a shoeless, pantless girl running away from “an emergency incident.” Hannah gives her the clothes off her back (well, really, her butt), but rescinds her help when it’s revealed that the girl ran away simply because her mom asked her to do homework. Hannah goes into ranting mom mode but the girl runs off with her clothes, so she’s forced to walk home in nothing but an oversized sweatshirt. (As if you thought Girls would end without seeing Lena Dunham pantless one more time.) She returns to her house, where Loreen and Marnie are drinking wine on the porch. When Grover starts crying, she tends to him—he latches and Hannah sighs in relief.
And…that’s it. That’s the end of Girls: A small-scale, subdued, self-satisfying coda that didn’t tie up loose ends so much as fiddle with knots. The show’s bottle episodes are often successful, at times masterful pieces of TV writing, and Hannah is inarguably the main character of Girls—but the show’s title is not singular. Leaving the majority of the cast behind in the penultimate episode dulled any of the emotional punch that you’d expect from a show’s series finale. (And let’s be real—the show’s best characters never included Hannah.)
“We were all just doing our best,” Hannah told Jessa in last week’s episode. That’s not wildly thrilling or all that compelling even, but hell, Hannah Horvath tried. Maybe that’s all we can ask for. Well, that and an Elijah spin-off, of course.
Choice soundbites, Hannah Horvath edition:
“Well, I was never breastfed and I’m a dream and a ray of sunshine, so.”
“You know what? You’re being kind of a fuckhead.”–Hannah, to her newborn.
“Every time you say nipple, a fairy dies.”
“The only thing grosser than a jazz trio would be, like, a jazz quadrangle.”
"I don't know when my vagina and my butthole are going to feel like two separate entities again, but I'm really looking forward to that."