HBO’s “Girls” are “Living the dream: One mistake at a time,” and the season finale ambushed viewers with the biggest lapse in judgement yet, courtesy of brash boho Jessa. The “dream” is to survive one’s mid-twenties in contemporary New York, find love, jobs — and that’s about it, for now.
Despite all the backlash and hyped up commentary about what “Girls” lacks in diversity, says as a “voice of a generation,” or portrays in its sex scenes and characters’ neuroses, it’s still a 30-minute comedy that packs stronger autobiographical elements than standard life lessons or moral advice. The dazed and melancholy ending to Season 1 is a reminder that this is the story of Lena Dunham’s composite characters trying to make it work, for better (but often worse).
As Hannah wakes up at the end of the season finale in Coney Island and wonders where she is and what’s transpired, the audience feels the same way (Did Jessa seriously marry that guy? Did she do it for a green card? Is Adam in the hospital? How is Hannah going to get home with no wallet or phone?). And that rattled, hungover, and confused atmosphere is appropriate — because as much as anyone can say about this show (including us), that’s what it’s about: Young people who are confused, partying, and stunted yet “really scared all the time.”
The huge shocker of the finale was of course, Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) impulsive wedding. Eagle-eyed “Girls” fans might have seen this coming when Lena Dunham Instagrammed a photo on June 8 while filming Season 2, which featured Jemima Kirke with cornrows and a big rock on her ring finger. However, all season there’s been foreshadowing: In Episode 2 she declared that she would have “children with many different men of different races,” and her appetite to be desired and taken care of has been obvious. Now she’s adorned herself with a loose piece of fishing net and married herself off to Daddy #1: Thomas John (Chris O’Dowd).
Yes. That Thomas John. It makes for a squirm-worthy wedding scene — one that viewers hope is a dream sequence, to no avail. The awkward vows (“If I ever saw that crazy b***h again, I would make her my f*****g wife”) and recklessness are darkly amusing. It’s almost as if Jessa doesn’t care or believe that there’s any promise in her marriage either, as she sits on the toilet talking to Hannah about how she feels “like a real adult now” (a recurrence from Jessa’s on-the-toilet pregnancy confession from Episode 1).
Other jaw-dropping truths were water birthed (couldn’t resist) tonight as well: Adam (Adam Driver) says the L word, further augmenting his likability, which has developed but not fully recovered from his appearance as a selfish pervert (“very animalistic,” as Driver himself told New York Magazine recently) in the early episodes. True to form, Hannah’s response is less-than-stellar (she’s flattered but overwhelmed by his emotions and desire to move in with her). During their confrontation on the street he gets knocked over by a car, and refuses to allow Hannah to accompany him to the hospital.
After housing everyone but Hannah in her studio apartment and being unwittingly lead into wearing white to a wedding (gasp!), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) reaches her breaking point, declaring that “everyone’s a dumb whore.” Moments after that statement, she decides to lose her virginity to Ray — which transpires in a stunningly non-upsetting scene.
Marnie (Allison Williams) is ending the season fabulously — with a sort of zen, doped-up-housewife swagger. She’s moved out of the apartment with Hannah, and seems to be consciously letting go of her uptight tendencies. Marnie’s “J. Lo at the Grammys” look and her astonishing attraction to the online ordained minister make for some laughs — and it’s validating when she turns down Charlie’s “joke” of initiating casual sex. It’s a safe to bet that she’ll be a favorite character to watch in Season 2.
“Your dreams are not what you thought they’d be!” proclaims Jessa after she exchanges her vows, and much to the chagrin of the other “Girls,” she has a point. Shoshanna is not going to be swept off her feet just yet by the “perfect” guy, Hannah has major work to do on herself if she’s going to achieve successful relationships or a writing career, and Marnie is in the process of “not having a plan” for a while, and being OK with it. But this show is about young women, and they’ve still got some time to figure things out. It will be interesting to see how they progress in Season 2 — and what sort of cultural controversy they manage to stir up while doing so.
“Girls” Gag Index: “She Did”
Most promising moment: Elijah (Andrew Rannells) is moving in with Hannah — and it will be wonderful to see more of him next season.
Fashion disaster moment: There were almost too many to count in the season finale, but Marnie’s crimped hair and Jessa’s wedding ensemble are a close tie.
OMG Moment: Charlie trying to act on the raunchy wedding sex “joke.” Nice try, buddy.
Cakey Time: Nobody loves their “cakey time” more than Hannah. From eating a cupcake in the shower with Marnie in Episode 1 to sitting desolate on Coney Island in the finale’s last scene, Hannah decides to have her cake, and eat it too — after all, there’s not much else she can do in that moment.