I was just seventeen when Girls first aired in 2012, and not even close to truly understanding half of the experiences the group of “self-obsessed”-twenty-somethings were exploring in each episode.
I’m now nearly twenty-three and those six years were defining ones for me, both in my life and in learning about myself, and during that time the show helped shape and inspire the woman I am today.
I was so drawn to the characters, that particular group of open and opinionated young women. With their volatile relationships, creative and chaotic lifestyles, ensconced in the backdrop of their beautiful Brooklyn-bubble, that’s how I wanted to live my life.
I see parts of myself in each of them, as the generation before mine did with the women of Sex and the City, deciding whether they were more of a Samantha or a Carrie. To a certain extent, I’ve done that with Girls myself, although it’s much more difficult to pick one character. I think the difference is that these women are too complex to be defined so easily that people can simply say they are like just one of them.
I have Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) independence, Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) stubbornness, Shoshanna’s (Zosia Mamet) determination and I’m vain like Marnie (Allison Williams), but those are only four traits I share with those characters. Watching them grow and change over the years made me realise that I, or any other women, don’t have to be defined by one thing that I am or that I like, and it’s okay to be simple or complex, or both or neither, whichever I choose.
Unfortunately, so much negativity has surrounded the show concerning the characters, the storylines, the issues portrayed, the lack of diversity in the show, I feel that people have taken it for granted. It speaks the truth about female friendships, sex, growing up, being a millennial, being a woman and I personally celebrate it for that.
One episode this season in particular, “American Bitch”, guest-starring the Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, had a huge effect on me and is something I continue to think about. I’ll be talking about it in more detail in an upcoming post, but suffice it to say it is a stunning and honest episode focusing on sexual assault and is a stark reminder of what many women face every day.
Another notable episode this season for me, personally, was “What Will We Do This Time About Adam”, which showed Hannah and Adam (Adam Driver) in a dream-like scenario of getting back together. I understand that many people viewed their relationship as unhealthy, but I honestly never saw it that way. I always thought that they brought out the best in each other and I unashamedly rooted for them to be together. While this episode didn’t have a happy ending for them as a couple, I’m glad that the importance of their relationship and what they meant to each other was acknowledged before the finale.
As the series neared its end, I came to realise that Girls is also the first show I have stuck with through its entire airing, from beginning to end. Since the very first episode, I was hooked. Even while I was away at university, without a television or catch-up, a time when I had to let go of many tv shows, I never stopped watching. That, for me, is some serious dedication.
The finale itself, I felt, and agree with many, was underwhelming, especially considering that it followed one of the strongest seasons the show has had in its run. It was calmer than the average episode, with an optimistic ending, which felt almost too mature to be the show I had loved for all these years. It showed growth, though, and that was important considering the characters and the shows reputations.
The overall success of Girls‘ last series has, I think, emphasised the need for TV shows like it which are honest and open about the complexities of life, and aren’t afraid to push boundaries to tell their truths. It makes me wish even more that it’s not the last we’ll see of those characters, but I’m so glad it’s gone out on a high note.
Goodbye Girls, and thank you for being the voice of my generation.