The title Girls has always been a bit of a misnomer. One would think after seeing an HBO promotional poster with four girls promoting a show called Girls that the show would be about those four girls. Maybe the show would focus on one girl more than the others, but, like some other HBO show about four women balancing life and love in New York City that I can’t remember the name of right now, it would more or less be about all of them and the specific nature of female friendship. But Girls never really turned out to be the millennial version of the show that’s title is slipping my mind. Lena Dunham has always had a lot to say about love and sex and companionship of all kinds, but more and more she’s wanted to explore what it means to want to be an artist in this generation. Of the four titular girls, Hannah is the only one who aspires to make a living creating art—although, Jessa probably sees herself as some sort of performance piece. Girls has always been about 50% Hannah and 50% everyone else, but this season it’s been about an 80/20 split. The show can’t even pretend to just be about girls any more, considering how much screen time Ray has been getting compared to Jessa and Shosh.
Hannah is more detached from the rest of the girls than ever before. It’s a stark contrast from the beginning of the season, when she was checking out Jessa out of rehab and begging her to stick around. Now, Jessa’s selling high-end baby clothes, Shoshanna is trying to set up a long-term relationship with “literally the dumbest person in the world”, and Marnie is fucking Ray. See what happens when you stop talking to your best friend, Hannah? She lets her depression lead her into Ray’s bed, which cannot be a good decision. At first, it seemed like Hannah was foregoing her best friends in favor of developing a solid relationship with Adam, but now he’s getting the shaft for GQ.
I had mixed feelings about Hannah’s foray into the world of GQ ad copy. For one, I do not for a second believe that a former English major trying to make it as a writer in New York, not even Hannah, would be so naïve about the types of people who work as copywriters; as if, unlike every other person on her GQ team, she was the only one aspiring to become a “real writer”. However, having Hannah actually excel at coming up with fluffy trend pieces was a nice touch. Hannah’s fear of selling out is an age old one for writers. The truth is, we can pretend that it’s easy to give up on our dreams and start working for the man, but it’s not. We’re not all going to be Joan Didion and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can consider the completely legitimate decision to dig in and begin the task of becoming professional writers. Maybe we won’t ever get published in The New Yorker, but at least we’ll have dental insurance and Sun Chips. Watching Hannah quit GQ was painful for me; it awoke a resentment in my belly that many of Dunham’s detractors must feel all the time. “I don’t like your face,” Kevin tells Hannah. “You’re not ugly. I’m just not into it.” It’s a vague rejection of Hannah, referring to the sort of arbitrary malice some critics tend to feel towards her.
A lot of this season has directly addressed criticism of the show—namely, more and more of Dunham’s breasts for no apparent reason. Hannah quitting and then, thankfully, un-quitting was a way of responding to criticism too: yes, Hannah’s flighty and self-centered and spoiled, but at least she’s developed a modicum of self-awareness to know that quitting your job at GQ while your actor boyfriend lies around the house and rent approaches is a terrible idea. Plus, I instantly liked her new team dynamic, what with the Jessica Jones, who is easily the best Daily Show correspondent since they hired John Oliver. Jenna Lyons as Hannah’s boss, Janice, was a nice touch too. Her casual superiority felt like a scaled down version of Portia Di Rossi in Better Off Ted. I hope Hannah sticks around GQ for a while, even if it means that she has no times for writing, friends, Adam, or even being awake for five minutes after work.