There was a moment in the Season 1 finale of the best comedy on television, Louie, in which Louis C.K.‘s titular character, has a night in New York City that goes off the rails (as it so often does) and decides to salvage the evening by waking up his young daughters and taking them to an East Village diner for some pancakes. The moment was small, but so incredibly poignant, not only to the tone of the show, but what it means for so many of its viewers. Everyone who lives in New York can attest, there are so many nights like this: they start in one place and end up somewhere completely unexpected.
I bring this up because last night’s Season 1 finale of the similarly themed (though unquestionably more berated) show Girls
. After a long, bizarre evening Hannah finds herself, alone, carrying nothing but a piece of wedding cake in the very early morning hours on the beach at Coney Island after having fallen asleep on the subway. Much like Louie
‘s impromptu, bleary-eyed breakfast, this one hit close. Not just because one of my best friends had something eerily similar happen (fell asleep on the train, personal effects were stolen, woke up confused in Brooklyn) but because of how the moment played out. Not every New Yorker has had that exact experience, but the feel
of the moment, was undeniably relatable and authentic.
Girls, as so many are happy to point out, may not get everything right. But in this one spectacular, unspoken moment (for once, Hannah doesn’t overanalyze the moment or even tweet her whereabouts) it got everything about what it’s like being young and hopeful and confused and plain f***ed up in the Big Apple. Here, it’s not your one night that can get thrown off track, but your entire life. So you can either get off the train, or you can ride it to the last stop, disoriented, yet oddly clear-headed at the same time. You can’t beat the crazy system of living in New York, you can only take a deep breath, go out for pancakes or sit on a deserted button and give it a go all over again.
Sorry for jumping ahead to the end there, so let’s rewind. Because while the last few minutes of the Season 1 finale of Girls, titled “She Did,” may have perfectly encapsulated the uncertainties of life in New York, the first few minutes nailed one of the few NYC certainties: the complete and total hell of moving. Until you reach true adulthood (i.e. hiring movers) you recruit your friends to haul your s**t up and down non-air conditioned walk-ups for the fee of pizza, beer, and future back problems. Here, Hannah and Marnie had Adam lug her furniture to the street, with little to no help from them. (“Look, there’s an ice cream truck outside” Adam hilariously tells a helpless Hannah, just to get her out of the way.)
It’s not the furniture, but the baggage that’s the heaviest here, though. Marnie and Hannah aren’t leaving their apartment because the lease is up, but because their friendship has reached a critical crossroads. Not only can they not stand living together anymore, but they can’t stand their life decisions. They’ve gone in reverse: from best friends/roommates to total strangers. While Hannah is faced with the prospect of living with her boyfriend after Adam offers to move in (think of all the extra closet space, Hannah! No shirts whatsoever!) Marnie, whose life is in more of a free fall than Hannah’s at this point, moves on to Shoshanna’s digs, possibly permanently.
Turns out, Jessa has been missing from the apartment, which is not very surprising when you consider who it is we’re talking about here. That is until the entire gang (and I mean the entire gang, including the terrible Ray and Marnie and Hannah’s exes, Charlie and Elijah, respectively) gets a mass text from Jessa (impressive, considering she once admitted she rarely saves phone numbers) telling them to get dressed up for the “most important party” of her life. And so, they do. Hannah puts on a lovely dress with shoes that (sort of) match, Adam arrives wearing not one, but two plaids, Marnie channels, according to Elijah, “J.Lo at the Grammys,” and much to her horror, Shoshanna wears a white dress.
But its not a post-Labor Day faux pas that mortifies Shoshanna, its that she’s wearing white to a wedding. A surprise wedding. Jessa’s surprise wedding to Thomas John, that douchey venture capitalist guy that she rejected all but two episodes ago. Shoshanna couldn’t have seen that coming from a mile away. (“I wore white, to her wedding. Because how could I have known?” she cries.)
Then again, who could have? Sure, Jessa’s boss Katherine more or less told her to grow up (i.e. stay away from her husband) and become the woman she’s meant to be, but who could have guessed Jessa would have taken it to this extreme? In the most awkward vows ever exchanged, the terribly unhip Thomas (the always cute Chris O’ Dowd) and the terribly hip Jessa confess that they reconnected after their threesome gone awry (poor Marnie, as if things weren’t weird enough) and are throwing caution to the wind. Reactions ranged from moved (Adam) to surprisingly indifferent (Hannah) but I get the sense from most fans the general consensus was, “Wait, what the hell?!” If they’re still somehow married by the season premiere, we may all have to turn in our cynic cards.
The impromptu nuptials had the rest of the girls making some other big, if not entirely impulsive, decisions. A baffled, lost Marnie (as Shoshanna perfectly zings her, “everything you own is in trash bags in my kitchen”) turns down her ex Charlie, who suggests they get it on in the bathroom, and instead makes out with the corny, schlubby, but sweet wedding officiant (played by Saturday Night Live
‘s Bobby Moynihan
); Shoshanna (the criminally underrated Zosia Mamet
) inexplicably decides to lose her virginity to the terrible Ray; and Hannah gets into a really bad fight with Adam after she tells him he’s off the hook because Elijah (more Andrew Rannells
, please!) can be her new roommate instead.
Okay, so that last one isn’t nearly as surprising. Sure, Adam had a few glimmers of being a sincere, thoughtful, and dare I say it — decent — human being (“You look beautiful” and “We’re in it for the long haul” he sweetly, earnestly told her) but the signs were all there that he was the same guy we’ve been wary of all along. After Marnie moves out, Adam tells Hannah that she shouldn’t “waste time on guilt” and that “holding on to toxic relationships is what keeps us from growing.” Two pieces of advice completely applicable to their muddled relationship: Adam feels no guilt about the way he’s treated Hannah in the past and their courtship is entirely toxic. Jeez, we all know a couple like this, don’t we? Heck, some of us are that couple.
While those veiled statements shouldn’t necessarily given Hannah reason for pause, almost everything Adam said and did during their street fight should have. “Nobody does anything because they want to help,” he cries. Sure they do, Adam. They’re called decent people. “You chase me like The Beatles,” he scolds her. Well, maybe you shouldn’t have made her chase you for so long, Adam. “You’re the f***ing worst,” he tells her. Actually Adam, you are.
Of course, Hannah doesn’t quite retaliate with anything nearly as stinging. After all, she is “the most scared person alive.” While Adam claims to have her pegged, giving him free range to say whatever tumbles through his head about his girlfriend, when Hannah (who blurts one of the funniest lines of the season, mid-fight, “I am 13 pounds overweight and it has been awful for me my whole life!”) tells him she knows him now, too, he denies her even that. Even when he tells her she’s pretty and a good writer and a good friend, he says it with such hostility. (My only gripe with this otherwise great scene was that it felt too much like Lena Dunham
‘s self-assuring reminders to herself, rather than something these characters, especially Adam, would actually say. Much like Diablo Cody
‘s overpowering presence in Young Adult
, the writer’s voice threatened to drown out the great characters.)
Is she supposed to feel safe or secure with someone who kept her at arms length for so long and tells her she “doesn’t know struggle,” yet still keeps his identity under wraps? Hannah could have asked him all those things, but she didn’t. Plus, she couldn’t, because Adam went and got himself hit by a car when he stood in the street during their argument. I know our feelings towards Adam were supposed to change over the past few episodes, and Hannah, is by no means a perfect girl or a perfect girlfriend, but at least she has the gall to admit that. Sorry Adam, she’s no monster. Methinks that title still belongs to you.
Deflated, Hannah takes that fateful train ride to Coney Island. When she wakes up, disoriented with nothing but a piece of wedding cake (her purse was snatched somewhere along the ride,) she asks someone where she is. “Heaven,” they jokingly reply to someone who just went through a night of hell. Hannah then, walks, aimlessly, towards the beach. She doesn’t get back on the train and head back to her empty apartment, because there’s no telling what’s in store for her there anymore. Instead she sits and reflects, with the endless ocean ahead of her and the city with endless scenarios, behind her. Damn, I can’t wait for Season 2.
What did you think of the Season 1 finale of Girls? Did you find Jessa’s wedding scenario totally implausible or necessary to move the story along for all the characters? Are Hannah and Adam done, or is this just another chapter in their exhausting saga? Share in the comments section.
[Photo credit: HBO]