Last Sunday’s episode of HBO’s Girls projects Marnie forward in new and exciting ways that seem to be trending this season. As Marnie storms out of her manipulating-husband-infested apartment, she walks into experiences outside of her repeated codependent behavior, and consequently, into troubling situations that only she can save herself from. It is this moment that we have been waiting for, and it is Marnie’s shining proclamation of independence at the end that heralds her as a new woman, cultivating her life in meaningful ways outside of what she expected— outside of the marriage she always wanted, and the lifestyle she thought she would always lead. This notion—that there is life outside choices you see others making around you—is uncomfortable, but the most authentically progressive movement I have seen of Marnie since that awkward song she sang to Ray way back when he was dating Shoshanna.
Marnie is not the only character cutting a path through a tangled twenties experience. I’m all for taking control of your sexuality and nurturing healthy relationships that harness your ties to each other in both physical and emotional ways, but Hannah’s selfish behavior continues to bubble to the surface when she deletes Fran’s nudes from ex-loves—an honest conversation might have been a healthier decision, but hindsight is always 20/20, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same. However, paired with her unconditional support of her father’s burgeoning exploration of his sexuality, it is her refusal to take Fran’s overprotective and overzealous teaching advice that makes me applaud her movement towards an independence that allows room for others to rely on her for a change.
Shoshanna’s time has been long overdue. I have always felt Shosh’s character as underused—I always am left wanting to know more about her when an episode ends—but this season proves she carries her weight in this show as someone who has arguably taken the biggest steps towards an adulthood she understands while staying true to herself. Her cultural exposure this season is both becoming and pushes her to a sophistication that I know I have personally always wanted from her character. I see her in more vibrant color than ever—maybe it has something to do with that apartment in which she lived, which I now want so badly, but anyway—and I’m looking forward to seeing her next moves.
Jessa’s transformation, while less physically dramatic, is still revolutionary for her character. She has gone down some pretty deep and dark rabbit holes in past seasons, but here she is finally clawing her way to her own light. Known for her eccentric lifestyle choices, Jessa proves this season that the winds change and so do we. Her treatment of those she loves, particularly Hannah, has not shifted, but her decisions moving forward have. Selfish as ever in her decision to pursue Adam regardless of Hannah, Jessa’s decisions are proof positive that her character is growing in strength and independence, as she sheds the veil of friendship she so loosely upheld. This season shows a more vulnerable Jessa that is fighting urges and making decisions that reflect her push towards a more thorough and happier self.
The important thing to note is that in this season, perhaps more so than in any other, we have seen monumental change for these characters. Marnie, Hannah, Shoshanna, and Jessa are more independent and less likely to crumble the minute anyone asks anything of them. They are stronger in their selfhood, even though their certainty is never absolute. However, perhaps the most significant trait of this season is that through their decisions, through their growth, through their movement forward, these characters stay grounded in experiences that make them relatable—maybe even too much so. That’s why we love them. That’s why we hate them. That’s why we watch every Sunday. That “25 and a half” years that Marnie boasted of in this Sunday’s episode is taking on new life, shaping these individuals into functioning characters that we understand as we grow older and not necessarily wiser, but at least we’re getting there.
For your thoughts on Girls this season, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear your opinion!