The knowledge that Season Six ends the run of Girls failed to elicit any bittersweet emotion from me. Until last Sunday’s episode, “Goodbye Tour,” I took no issue sending Girls and its girls away with a wave and a blown kiss. The show had done me well–it provided entertainment to my roommate and I as we foraged for ourselves in the adult world for the first time (ironically in the same life stage where the show began for Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna.)
In the era of peak TV, a plethora of shows can take it’s place in many millennials hearts, my own included: Insecure, Broad City, even How To Get Away With Murder paints portraits of more down-to-earth, “relatable” TV heros in their early-to-mid twenties for me to connect with.
By in large, many people turn to the screen to feel their identity validated, however most people, millennials included, also look toward fictional TV characters for some sort of virtual escapism. Using Girls to escape is a tough task when episodes beg the audience to sneer upon the protagonists and question their motives and reliability. Girls aimed to poke gentle fun at the whims of it’s main quartet but leaned greatly into the stereotypes of the white, urban, indie life to try and relate to its viewer.
I felt–like the titular girls felt for the last two seasons–some growing pains with the show. Girls and I had a friendship that had grown stale and a little too comfortable and a little too eager to point out each other’s flaws. I’d frequently skip out on our plans. I’d make fun of Girls, call the characters feckless (this vocab word coming straight from Elijah’s mouth,) only to rush back and binge the episodes, sad and sorry I’d turned my back on it for a short period of time. But that lingering question, “Is this what you think of me and my friends?” lingered in my mind.
After five seasons and the churning of plot and characters and marriages and pregnancies and bathing suits and where-did-they-get-the-money-for-this vacations, I was ready for the show to retire. I was ready to kiss Shosh, Marn, Jessa, and Hannah goodbye and let them live the rest of their 20’s in peace, without me judging their episodes as toxic and shaking my fist at this portrayal of 20-somethings that I did not view as true or worthy.
But then Hannah smiled in “Goodbye Tour;” a full-mouthed, teeth-out smile. Her smile spread eagerly, earnestly while she attended an engagement party she was not invited to. While she smiled, her bygone friends danced in the corner of Shoshanna’s new, metropolitan apartment–with it’s thick curtains and champagne glasses tucked into every nook and cranny. As Hannah looked on each of the girl’s faces, her friends faces, their countenances reminded her why they ensnared her attention in the first place.
Shoshanna danced with her new fiance. They met at a Sprinkles Cupcake vending machine–in the most picture perfect, off-screen, whimsy, Shosh way. Through many seasons, Shosh is zealous with the bounty of her love. When she believes in you, she gives you her all–her passion, her keen eye, her girlish giggles and whip-smart attention and wit delivered in a sweet-like-pie, singsong voice. She focused all of her attention on her new honey while Hannah smiled wistfully, Shoshanna unknowing of her doting.
Jessa stuck sweets into her mouth as Hannah looked on. A gaggle of metropolitan women hung onto her every syllable and they shared the treats. Jessa was always the most quixotic of the friends. She’s mysterious and intoxicating and different and fully aware of her selfish, but sexy poweress.
Marnie, a gaggle of men surrounding her, passed out business cards. The men were fighting for her attention, as men have throughout her time on the show. They work hard to impress Marnie because she’s traditional and beautiful and gives off a regal air that she has herself figured out. And she’s trying to do so, one pawned piece of jewelry at a time.
Hannah alternates from being the on-looker in this pretty, penultimate scene, to dancing wildly, like a sea creature extending its arms into the unknown, watery abyss. Her arms are out, she spins about the room, and her fingers flail as she dotes on the past and makes her final decision to travel full-throttle toward a future without these dancing girls as her safety net. She chose to move to upstate New York. In this scene, she takes it all in, her New York City past and the friends it brought her, and carves out a place to express her gratitude. And when she smiles, she’s remembering. And when she dances, she’s letting go.
It’s a perfect moment for the second-to-last episode to end on. It feels both fictional–the finality of a look upon each friend’s face is a neatly constructed goodbye tour. But the crafted moment also feels steeped in reality.
I can remember having similar moments–having the forethought to take a little extra time to really drink a moment in and stretch out my fingers and feel the air buzzing and time passing bittersweetly. I was in London, watching the sunrise on my last day living in the city. I took a deep breath and looked around and thought something like, “remember this moment, the sun peeking through rain clouds, a morning bus passing like a flash of red through green trees, the feel of cold, monumental marble on your back.” I can still feel the warmth and love in that moment while I type. Intoxicated with a feeling of belonging, I came to terms with a beloved chapter in my life coming to a close.
Girls remained relevant for six seasons by suspending belief but keeping its writing close enough to reality. It dabbled in magical realism only to make its characters suffer the consequences of dreaming too wide or running too left field.
Hannah felt that all-too-real buzz of bottling up a memory twice in “Goodbye Tour.” On the subway, she lays out her legs and thinks about New York City and all of her big city dreams and real accomplishments. At the party, she remembers her friends as they are now–beautiful, young, free, in love, figuring things out–and she readies for change and adult finality.
Just like every good last episode of TV prepares its audience for, change is coming for Hannah. The final scene of this episode shows movers shuffling her furniture into a well-lit, breezy home in a quiet college town.
Change isn’t only coming for Hannah; Jessa’s quit school and back with Adam. Marnie’s in therapy. Shoshanna has an engagement ring. Elijah has a lead role in White Men Can’t Jump.
“Goodbye Tour” is a great wrap. It feels nostalgic while being present; focusing in on the knowledge that time is passing, it feels similar to the end of a sentimental movie about young adult friendship. It certainly ends like one–with a swelling symphony playing for the credits, like all good, sentimental movies do.