Keep it Reel: Happy Together in Girls?

By Caroline Nelson ‘16Film Columnist

“Together,” the final episode of this season’s “Girls,” does what any good finale is supposed to do. It ties up some loose ends, offers some dramatic conclusions, and leaves those who like the show with questions about the season.

The great shows of the past decade have earned the distinction “novelistic.” This is not just because of an improvement in quality but because of a larger coherence that characterizes contemporary cable shows. Many shows work under the principle that people should be able to catch an episode on television and basically understand what was going on whether they are tuning into episode one or episode forty. In these shows, whatever themes the writers might want to deal with are often addressed in one episode and then mostly left there. In a bad show this will be so heavy-handed that it recalls episodes of children’s shows brought to you by some word or another. But shows like “Girls” have themes that run through the entire series. This is what makes contemporary shows feel like the serial fiction of days gone by. Each episode has to function as a single unit, as does each season, as does the series as a whole.

Throughout season two many of the characters have been in free-fall. Shoshanna tried to negotiate her first adult relationship, Marnie is floundering, Hannah’s OCD is back with a vengeance (well, in her world; for the viewer it sort of came out of the blue), Jessa took off after her marriage fell apart, and Adam went off the wagon and into a very dark place. By the end of the last episode the characters have all found some sort of answer to their situations. Shoshanna has broken up with Ray, citing her need to find out who she is and her need to escape his constant negativity. Marnie and Charlie reunite, presumably because they really love each other but possibly because Charlie has just gotten rich and enjoys the newly humbled version of his ex. Hannah is hit with a combination of mental illness, a perforated eardrum, and a sound telling-off by her father and the recovering drug addict downstairs who have both had enough of her taking advantage of them. She and Adam are also reunited by virtue of both having hit rock bottom. The cleverness of these resolutions lies in the way everything was wrapped up, so that it is completely possible that everything will change as soon as season three begins.