The second season of Lena Dunham‘s Girls wrapped up with a humdinger of an episode, tantalizingly titled “Together.” Let’s just say that things ended on a far different note than they did last time around. When we open, Hannah is still struggling with her OCD, Adam is still struggling with his new girlfriend, Marnie is trying to get Charlie back (still?), and Shoshanna is trying to get rid of Ray (maybe). Oh, how things can change in just a matter of months.
After the break, Rob Hunter and I continue to bemoan Adam’s happiness level, plot Marnie and Charlie’s yuppie future, and wonder just who thought a conventional rom-com ending was what anyone wanted (or deserved) for the season finale.
Kate: As one of my high school English teachers used to say, we have a lot to “unpack” when it comes to the second season finale of “Girls” – including a lot of stuff I am not too jazzed about. To kick off, however, let’s think back to the first season finale, one that saw all of our characters in completely opposite positions than they are when “Together” ends – Hannah and Adam looked to be on a fast-track to something before they broke up in spectacular fashion, Charlie and Marnie were dunzo, Ray and Shoshanna were just getting started, and Jessa was more central to the plot than she’s ever been before or since. That’s all different now, just one season on, so here’s the real question – it seems like just about everything has changed over the last season, but has any of this stuff actually been earned?
Rob: Tough question. Let’s start with the lesser character, Shoshanna. Her split from Ray and subsequent jump into the arms of the Aryan seem a bit abrupt, especially since it’s only been a few episodes since their subway declaration of love, but time in the world of a TV show is always hard to nail down. Time aside, though, it makes perfect sense. He was the first to enter her secret garden, and now she’s opening the doors up to the public.
Marnie and Charlie are a special case, for more reasons than one, but most importantly they were together when the show began. (Unless I’m making that up.) She’s gone downhill as a character, and the fact that she jumped to the same conclusion with Charlie that she did with Booth Jonathan is telling. She lucked out this time though as Charlie is just as emotionally confused and needy as her. I wish them the best of luck.
As for Hannah and Adam? There’s no denying the emotional pull of the finale, him running shirtless through the street talking to her via “fucking facespace,” but I can’t help but feel that she’s bad for him. I’m digging his current girlfriend, and would have preferred she stick around. Yes yes, I enjoy seeing a topless woman not named Lena Dunham, but I also like that she was unafraid to call Adam on his sexual shit. His line about having always been there for her is touching and shows him to be a better friend than any of the girls, but I worry she’s just going to drag him down with her.
Kate: It seemed inevitable that Shoshanna would break up with Ray – no matter how cute some of us might have thought they were – she’s just spreading her wings (and, ahem, other things), so of course she needed to cut off the dead weight. It’s been a steady progression (or, at least, the most steady kind of progression we get with this show) – Ray’s homeless reveal, Shosh’s emotional outbursts, Ray’s emotional outbursts, her cheating on him, her lying about it, his trying to “get it together” for her. The relationship had to go. They were just playing house.
Indeed, Marnie and Charlie did start the show as college sweethearts. The pair of them are quite immature when it comes to emotions and relationships, but hey, why not? At least now Marnie doesn’t need to worry about finding any direction in her life with a rich boyfriend and all…
But you say “emotional pull,” I say “unearned, conventional bullshit.” I scoffed throughout that shirtless-running sequence, I begged my TV to not let it happen, I even asked if it was a dream sequence. Hannah is going through some really hardcore shit right now, and the last thing I want to celebrate is “oh, her equally damaged ex-boyfriend is running to her aid like something out of goddamn Love, Actually.” Sure, I was struck when we found out that Adam knew about the OCD, I was touched by his concern, but I thought we had gotten much further with this show than a “running through the streets to save my lady” finale.
Rob: Oh, I agree with your comments on the ending in regard to the show itself. It was unearned on the basis that this is not that kind of show, and while I joked previously that the season could end with a death this is actually just as jarring.
Adam is just so damn sweet. I should clarify that he’s sweet to Hannah… he’s most likely about to bone over his current girlfriend. And it’s worth noting that the episode was co-written by Dunham and Judd Apatow, so the “Hollywood rom-com” conventions on display here came from someone well steeped in the genre. For me, less effective than Adam’s heroic run through the airport (in the form of NYC) is Hannah’s even more extreme pity party. While I was impressed with Dunham’s acting and the character in recent weeks this ep saw her being a bit more shticky about it. And we agree that the editor dude (John Cameron Mitchell) is essentially a walking metaphor for the real world’s media and their labels and expectations placed on Dunham herself right? This is her saying that sometimes the pressure from people who’ve labeled you a “genius artist” is debilitating on that very art. That’s a bit off-putting for me if so.
Kate: I think that I just find it unfathomable that a series that doesn’t normally go the traditional route went so conventional here. Is that the shtick? Is this a joke? What’s the payoff? I don’t get it. Maybe when season three starts, I will, but for now, that “happy ending” made me deeply unhappy.
Yes, Adam is sweet. I felt his concern for Hannah, that really came across beautifully, and we’ve long known that he still has feelings for her, so of course he’d go running to her side. But, no, I don’t need convention like that.
Then again, is that a happy ending? Hannah needs much more help than a recovering alcoholic can offer her – more help than any boyfriend could offer her – so maybe we were supposed to feel as bad about that ending as I did?
Rob: It’s a happy ending for Hannah… and isn’t that all that really matters? She gets someone to care about her, to take care of her and to help pick up the broken glass. She’s felt abandoned by everyone else, friends and family included (partially her own fault for booting out Elijah), so this is definitely a win for her. It should even help her OCD and e-book writing since both became bad news when her friends started dropping off like whorish hipster flies.
But there’s nothing happy about this for Adam. Even if the show itself thinks otherwise.
Kate: I just think that she needs more than a guy to help her out – she needs help. She needs a therapist and possibly medication and a better support system. Sure, this may be a temporary fix, but at what cost? Also, does this mean that we’re not going to see Dunham doing some solid acting again? Great. Super.
So who else is this finale happy for? Marnie and Charlie? Shoshanna?
Rob: She has a therapist. She has medication. What she needed was a penis, apparently.
I don’t think the show is interested in delving any deeper into her illness, so expect her OCD to be “cured” and the e-book to have been an uneventful release when season three starts next year. So yes, her acting talents will most likely return to a combination of snarkiness and naked flesh.
As for Marnie, Charlie and Shoshanna, yes. They’re happy. Shoshanna will always be a tertiary character, but I’m curious where Marnie will go. Do you think they’ll break her and Charlie up again next season or will they just settle into adulthood?
Kate: But she’s not well! A former drug addict had to help her!
I wonder about Marnie and Charlie. At the end of last season, Jessa and Thomas-John looked poised to settle into happy yuppiehood, and now a similar situation has befallen our erstwhile college sweethearts. Is there a Brooklyn loft in Charlie’s future? A croissant purse for Marnie, too? More talk of apps and launch parties and office dancing? Yes. And then that will all blow up just like it did for Jessa.
Jessa is/was a special case though in that she’s in no way designed for settling down and starting a family. Marnie, by contrast, apparently wants nothing more than to be a socialite housewife and possibly a mother. She tells Charlie she doesn’t care about his money, but as sure as anything else on that show you know she cares a lot about it. I can see them lasting half the season before Charlie bangs an intern.
Kate: I wasn’t even thinking about Charlie’s money until she mentioned it. Oh, Marnie.
Speaking of Jessa, do you think she’s coming back?
Rob: Hahaha, good one Kate. A woman not thinking about the man’s money. You’re hilarious.
But I digress. Yes, Jessa will return in the first ep of next season, and she’ll have a story similar to this.
Kate: One can only hope.
What else do you foresee from season three?
Rob: First and foremost there has to be some kind of professional momentum from one of the four girls. That’s the only reason I see a possibility for Hannah’s e-book to do well, but that said I think the odds are better that they’ll toss something Marnie’s way instead. Self esteem issues aside she’s the most professionally responsible of the four. If they do give the success to Hannah the question becomes how much? What’s left of her character if she’s no longer broke and unfulfilled?
Kate: I also think that, the way things were left in that finale, that e-book is not getting written. So, what, Marnie’s singing career is back on? Financed by Charlie? What a world!
And what about our Ray? Will he go off and become a huge success, like Charlie, only to pull Shosh back in? I’m guessing yes.
Rob: The book will be written but may or may not be a hit. Marnie is done singing, thankfully. Ray will try to get Shoshanna back but will fail.
Kate: The beat (and humilation) will go on.