HBO’s show Girls has concluded its fourth season, after ten episodes that spanned many places – both geographically and emotionally.
There was a lot going on this season, and at times I felt that the lines of the main characters – Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Shoshanna, Adam and Ray – didn’t overlap enough.
Other characters, Mimi-Rose, Ace, Elijah and Hannah’s parents, kind of floated in and out of the picture. Overall, it made the season feel a bit scattered and rushed. That said, it wasn’t as though the season didn’t have its strong moments. There were some episodes and storylines that I really enjoyed.
Hannah and Adam
Hannah was a pretty big mess this season, and often at her most unlikable. She truly botched the Iowa thing, acting like a child among grownups at the writers workshop. She quit, came back to Iowa, and discovered that Adam had already shacked up with another girl.
The fifth episode of the season was essentially a bottle episode, featuring a distraught Hannah essentially refusing to leave her old apartment, where Adam and Mimi-Rose were living. Gillian Jacobs was good as Mimi-Rose and fit in with the cast, but we spent a lot of time on her character, and she was quickly out of the picture. I think Mimi-Rose was meant to represent the kind of person Hannah would like to be: creative, mysterious, sexy and successful. I would have liked to explore that more.
Hannah’s attempt to become a teacher was even less successful than her attempt to attend grad school. She’s too emotionally stunted to even remotely pass as someone who would remain hired beyond the first day. I enjoyed Maude Apatow’s performance as Hannah’s student/friend, but come on. How does Hannah not get fired in that situation?
In the last couple episodes of the season, Hannah had to try and deal with the news that her father came out as gay. It was fascinating to watch proudly liberal Hannah deal with the shock of the change in her life, and to see her try to cover up the confusion and surprise that she was mistaking for homophobia. It was probably one of my favorite storylines from the season.
In last night’s season finale, Adam tried to get Hannah back after the two of them witnessed the truly horrifying botched home birth that Adam’s sister, Caroline, attempted. Adam’s offer felt genuine, and I was proud of Hannah for turning him down.
A lot happened to Hannah over these ten episodes, and I can’t help but think the story would have been better served if some of these ideas had either been cut, or saved for next season.
Marnie, Jessa, Shoshanna and Ray
My other favorite storyline from this season was Ray running for local council. Ray is older and more pessimistic than the other characters on this show, so I’ve always related to him best. He’s a smart guy who hasn’t achieved as much as he’d hoped so far in life. I loved the idea of Ray channeling some of his intelligence and his frustration with the world toward a very simple project: dealing with neighborhood traffic and noise.
I can totally picture a spin-off series, solely about Ray’s life in small time politics. He’s part Ron Swanson, part Leslie Knope, part April Ludgate. (But there isn’t an ounce of Tom Haverford there.)
Ray’s storylines mostly overlapped with Shoshanna and Marnie this season. I’ve always loved Shoshanna, and enjoyed seeing her get pushed into the real world. Sometimes, I thought Shoshanna’s behavior skewed a little too far towards the unbelievable side – I could believe botched interviews because of her intense personality, but straight-up telling a potential employer that your interview was essentially a trial run seemed too stupid a move for someone as ambitious as Shosh.
I enjoyed Jason Ritter as a love interest for Shoshanna, but since we saw so little of him it made her final dilemma seem like an easy decision. Shosh was offered her dream job in Tokyo, but should she leave a guy she’d gone out on a few dates with? Um, hells yes she should. Had Shoshanna been rekindling a romance with Ray, I would have understood her hesitation more. But this? Nope nope nope. It’s time for Shoshanna to lean in. Last year, Hannah decided to move to Iowa and we all thought “Well, that won’t last. She’s the star of the show.” I have the same concern about Shoshanna – is Zosia Mamet leaving the show, or will she be appearing less? I don’t love the idea of Shoshanna bailing on Tokyo after three episodes to return to Brooklyn, but I’ll save my concerns for next year.
Instead of rekindling his feelings for Shoshanna, Ray nursed a crush on Marnie this season. His small-time election win acceptance speech, which was 100% directed at a newly engaged Marnie, was a very well done scene (especially when Shoshanna realized what was going on.) I hate Desi, and I hate Marnie, but I had to root for her in the season finale when she had to perform without him. Hopefully that engagement will have been broken off when the show resumes next year.
As always, we probably saw the least of Jessa this season. I used to really hate Jessa, but in recent seasons she has climbed past Marnie on my list of “Girls Characters Ranked from Best to Worst”.* But, I rather liked her this season. She’s coming out of the whole train wreck thing, and I actually hope she follows through on her declaration to become a therapist.
All in all, I still really enjoy watching Girls. I just think this season could have benefited from a few less major plot lines, and a bit more focus on the ones that really worked. What did you guys think? Hit the comments.
*This list was purely in my head and not even fully formed, but here I am giving it a shot. This is based on my current feelings about the characters and, thus, is subject to change.
Girls Characters Ranked From Best To Worst
I included Elijah in there to create some distance between Hannah and Marnie, because I really can’t stand Marnie. I think Elijah is funny, but I also really think he’s an asshole. Usually I’d place Hannah above Jessa because Jessa has always been a manipulative psychopath, but not this year.