Shanti Herzog is a journalism freshman and Mustang News reporter. The views expressed in this column do not reflect those of Mustang News editorial.
HBO’s “Girls” finally wrapped up its raunchy, real and boundary-pushing series April 17, bringing the work of Lena Dunham and partners Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow to its six-season close.
The show followed the lives of four women living in New York City as they stumbled through relationships, adulthood and self-awareness. “Girls” ended with the show’s main character Hannah (Lena Dunham) struggling with new motherhood and settling into a mature adult life in upstate New York.
The ending made me sad, because when things end it makes anyone sad. But the finale didn’t really feel like the end for me. Hannah, having trouble with getting her new baby (conceived from a surf instructor who knocked her up while she was on assignment at a surf camp) to breastfeed, finally gets him to latch. This happens amid other problems with her best friend turned part-time nanny and tough-loving mother. Like the rest of the show, the finale left me believing that even though I couldn’t predict what bizarre and unlikely situation Hannah or the other girls would get into next, they were going to be OK.
Reasons for fangirling
I became a fan of “Girls” for a few reasons. The first was because I love anything Judd Apatow is involved with. If you didn’t love what he did with the show “Freaks and Geeks,” I’m honestly confused. Maybe you at least liked the “Anchorman” films — he produced those too. I also saw him in a theater in Los Angeles once and it may have been the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me.
The second and most life-changing reason I fell in love with “Girls” is that the show taught me that I can be super OK with my boobs being out. I didn’t suddenly start walking around my apartment topless like Hannah or Jessa. But after seeing Lena Dunham exist as a naked human and saying, “Yeah this is my body, and?” I began to realize that not only is it okay to show your body consistent love, but to flaunt the heck out of it. Whether it be taking a bath, having sex or freely walking around the apartment, “Girls” depicted the lives of these women in a realistic way, and that often involved boobs.
I also loved “Girls” because it was a place where I could go to feel like other people have stupid problems just like my own, if not worse. I loved being able to lose myself in their absurd world. Overwhelmed by school, extracurriculars and work, I could watch the show and say, “Phew, at least my life isn’t as messy and ridiculous as theirs. Like, at least I have some of my shit together because I went to class today.” But then again, my life is kind of as ridiculous and messy as theirs, just in a different way.
“Girls” also captured the extreme unpredictability of life. Nothing happens all at once. Not every action we take brings us instant gratification. This is so frustrating because we can get that instant gratification on social media and we can see it in film and television, but it doesn’t happen for us that often in real life. “Girls” brings that struggle to the screen so eloquently, as so many of the characters throw a fit if things don’t go their way and are quick to blame others for their own actions.
It’s overwhelming to think as a college student, “Am I doing enough? Should I try to get an internship now or enjoy one last summer of freedom? Is my GPA high enough? Shouldn’t I be working more because I am so poor? What happens after I graduate?”
But as Lena Dunham explained in her commentary in the last episode, “Everyone is trying to figure it out … It doesn’t matter where you are, there’s like this lack of resolution, but you can always make the decision to do better.”
She’s right. This show followed its characters as they were just trying to figure it out. Hannah, Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Marnie (Allison Williams) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) were always just trying to figure out where they were most valued and what would make them happiest.
All about love
Like many shows whose premise revolves around a group of friends “just trying to figure it out,” they fought with each other, fell in and out of love a couple of times, did some drugs, had bad jobs and great jobs. Somehow, they managed to stay in each other’s lives throughout it all, sometimes hating each other, sometimes as close as ever.
As much as Shoshanna began to feel that the rest of the girls were holding her back, or Marnie realized that she couldn’t control her friends no matter how many “emergency meetings” she called, they all knew they’d never stop loving each other. That love didn’t need to be the type that gets lunch every week either. It could be miles away, happily settled into different lives and not talking much. But it could be the type that you can count on for anything.
That is awesome to think about, that no matter how hard or how weird life gets, as long as you have those people that will hold you when you’re sad and laugh at your jokes, you’ll be okay.
In the penultimate episode, Hannah and Jessa had this moment where they both apologized for what they put each other through and recognized the pain they’d both put up with. A little context — Jessa began a serious relationship with Hannah’s longtime boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) which virtually ended their friendship. In season six, episode six, Jessa went to Hannah’s apartment and told her that she couldn’t lose Hannah as a friend, to which Hannah responded, “I don’t care about you anymore.”
However, in the finale, the pair had a tearful reconciliation.
“We were just doing our best,” Hannah said, to which Jessa responded, “Our best was awful.”
As Hannah agreed, they both laughed because sometimes life is so ridiculous and painful that it feels like a joke. Their best may have been awful because it wasn’t perfect and they sometimes hurt themselves and others. But it couldn’t have been all awful because it was what felt right in the moment, and like always, it turned out pretty OK in the end.
I think their best was all this show was about and what most of our lives are about. I think it was great, in all of its messiness and absurdity, as those are often the casualties of doing our best.
Their best made their life crazy, but it also made their life good and I think that’s all we’re hoping for.