From left to right: Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Marnie (Allison Williams), and Hannah (Lena Dunham)
The Good News: HBO’s Girls will be returning February 21st for their fifth season. Starring many talented individuals, including (but not limited to) Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke, and the now-infamous Adam Driver, Girls is a rare gem that is both superficially entertaining and subtlely complex, driven by exceptional writing and character development. Though older generations (read: my mom and her mom) may not develop a taste for it, it will sit quite well with younger folk.
The Bad News: the following sixth season, currently in the works, will also be their last. Lena Dunham has the rare sense to know when to end a good run (I’m looking at you, House).
For those unfamiliar with Girls, it’s a show about a core group of friends as they stumble, tumble, and bump through their 20s while living in New York City. Have you ever pondered the following:
- How do I earn a livable income and at what point am I just selling my soul for money, working a job I have no interest in for people who don’t care about my future?
- How do I have a functional relationship?
- How do I maintain my friendships when life keeps dragging me away and work makes me so tired?
- How do I deal with my dad coming out as gay?
- What are boundaries and how do I draw them?
- Am I a narcissist?
If so, Girls may have the answer for you. Or at the very least, watching their attempts at steering through these life questions will make you feel better about yourself.
Note: if at any point you find yourself questioning whether Girls has any real substance, watch Lena Dunham’s thoughtful interview on Q on CBC.
1. No body’s perfect.
Lena Dunham gets naked on the show. A lot. No, she’s not a size 2 model, and no, she’s not one of those conventionally beautiful actresses that are absolutely EVERYWHERE on television. And that’s kind of way better. Her nudity in the show adds an authenticity to the vulnerability these characters feel as they take their baby steps into real life.
Lena is also a strong advocate for healthy body affection. Despite her imperfections, she’s not ashamed of her body—and you shouldn’t be, either. I think that’s a message we can all get behind (no pun intended).
2. Strong bonds hold tight.
Despite the moments of anger, hurt feelings, and disconnect throughout each season, these girls are tight, yo. No matter what, they always end up falling back to each other. Because true friends are like family—honest, sometimes hurtful, oftentimes dysfunctional, but will stand with you when it comes down to it.
3. We are all grossly—but not wholly—flawed.
Marnie the Control Freak can’t stand best friend Hannah’s self-absorption. Jessa, a free spirit, doesn’t get Marnie’s neuroticism. Hannah, the narcissist, despises Jessa’s tendency to abandon her without thought. And superficial Shoshanna, the youngest, suffers from a naive outlook and extreme social anxiety. Their friendship is constantly tested, broken, and mended. Each character has emotional issues they are dealing with, most of which germinated from their parents’ own dysfunctionality (big surprise, right?). Hannah’s overly doting parents, Marnie’s ‘cool mom’ mother who constantly nags, Jessa’s absent father, Shoshanna’s divorced parents who hate each other: when you meet the parents, it’s an “oohhh” moment that makes you realize that they, like you, are products of their environment.
Despite their long list of flaws, each character has slivers of goodness that grow over the course of the show as they evolve into fully-formed adults. The end of season 4 is where the big revelations happen, and then you finally decide that you don’t hate them, after all. Whew.
4. Not everyone is born with a life’s purpose, and that’s okay.
Growing up is hard. It really is. Perhaps the hardest part is realizing that the days of “I want to grow up to be a ____!” are over, and you still have no idea what that is. There’s a certain romanticism to believing one was put on this earth for a beautiful, meaningful purpose, but I think the reality is that most of us spend a good portion of our better years trying to figure out who we are and what we want.
Uncertain? Yes. Daunting? Yes. Sad? Absolutely not. Just how no two people are exactly alike, no two lives are alike, and it’s important to embrace that. When you stop trying to be great and instead focus on being better, life stops being a chore and becomes a privilege. Most of the time.
5. Grad school is not for everyone.
When I was fresh out of college with nary an idea of my life’s purpose, my parents pushed the idea of grad school. Oh God, I thought, more school. But I applied anyway—I filled out applications with no personality, sent writing samples that hadn’t been meticulously edited, paid the application fees. One day, during a conversation with my stepdad, he turned to me and said plainly, “You really don’t want to go to grad school, do you?” Stunned, I realized that no, I really didn’t.
It was hard to admit to myself that I had no idea what I wanted and that I was too “lazy” to go through another round of education. It was also hard to admit that I was no longer a child and not only could, but needed to, begin making my own decisions. Despite my parents’ best intentions, they couldn’t read my mind or predict my future. And to be honest, while grad school would have been its own adventure, I kind of like the one I got.
Bottom line: Take control and figure out what you want, your way. It’s your life, it’s now or never. You ain’t gonna live forever.
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