If art is meant to hold a mirror up to society, then the TV show Girls was the compact shoved in the face of millennial Brooklynites whining, “No! Not me! I’m not an entitled hipster! Those ladies are unlikable and unrealistic!”
The truth is Hannah, Marnie, Shoshana, Elijah, Ray, and even a little bit Jessa were uncomfortably relatable. They acted on their worst impulses, while inviting you to laugh and admit with shame that you’ve felt like and fantasized about doing those same things. Girls wasn’t hard to watch because it was foreign to our experience; it was hard to watch because it was uncannily true. Mandy Stadtmiller, writing for the departed XOJane about a date she went on with my loving husband Aaron Sorkin, once wrote of her own desperate behavior, “[It was] very Hannah in Girls, which is I think sometimes why that show makes me almost nauseous to watch.” Exactly.
Before the sixth and final season airs, let’s take a walk down memory lane and reflect on all the times Girls made us say, “Ugh that’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen and also…me.”
So you’ve never gotten high on opium tea and confessed to your parents that you have an inflated sense of self-importance combined with a genuine desire to make something good and put it into the world resulting in a lifelong struggle between directly engaging with the world around you and producing commentary on it. GooooOOOOooood for yyyoooooOOooouuuuuuuuuuu. If you’ve ever sacrificed something in the pursuit of your dreams or thought yourself a fool for working in the arts or even, hell, written a particularly eloquent Facebook post, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Wait a minute. This might actually be the next *Catcher in the Rye?” It’s not a great way to go through life, but oh is it real.
You think you look great at the club. You think you want to see pictures of yourself dancing. Trust me, you do not. You are Marnie.
From the moment she unceremoniously moved into Hannah/Adam’s apartment and basically stole Hannah’s life, we knew Mimi Rose was trouble. Self-centered yet compassionate, brilliant yet shallow, secretly manipulative but seemingly without malice, Mimi Rose was a Rubik’s cube we never quite managed to solve. Which is why is was so gleefully awful to watch her choose “herself” as a companion. She delivers the line like she’s accepting an award for embracing a facet of feminism that’s been around since before she was born, and you can only roll your eyes at her paper-thin empowerment shtick. On the other hand, she apparently gets every single thing she wants. Damn you, Mimi Rose. Why are you the worst, and why do I seek your approval nonetheless? Who hasn’t considered, for a moment, selling their soul for the adoration of their peers? (If you haven’t, again, congraaaaAAAAaaaats on being so self-actualized. You’re amaaaAAAaaazing and you can dip right off.)
Whether she’s listening to a podcast on a tree stump, categorically refusing to hike (“Truth or Dare”), or just dancing her woes away in her apartment (“All Adventurous Women Do”), Hannah is devoted to doing exactly as much with her body as she wants, no less and definitely no more. Sorry, fake-clumsy rom com heroines, but Hannah Horvath is the queen of uncoordinated, and we are her loyal subjects.
I can’t GIF this or even quote it because it is too cringe-y and, obviously, no one actually thinks like this. It’s taken to a satirical extreme, but at some point everyone has that fantasy of dying tragically young and everyone who ever wronged them coming to their funeral and feeling bad and finally appreciating what they’ve lost. This is that. You’re just not supposed to say it out loud. See also: The line “Your boyfriend should kill himself. You deserve it.” from “Leave Me Alone.”
Shoshana on crack is one of the funniest moments of this or any show. Everything out of her mouth is gold: “Don’t tell my mom. Don’t even tell me” and “Don’t get raped by the man in plaid” and, of course, her epiphany about how the only difference between her and the girls who go to the front in kickboxing class is the willingness to go to the front in kickboxing class. Smoking crack is not a mistake we would make and her epiphanies are not realizations we need to have, but Shosh is young. Remember being young?
So, girls might have played the “realization” card a few too many times. Hannah realizes that opium tea tastes like twigs, not Twix, after she’s had a sip, and Shoshana somehow doesn’t realize that Ray lives with her until he’s been staying with her for weeks. Marnie confuses her work/sex relationship with artist Booth Jonathan for a relationship relationship. Still, watching Marnie realize that she’s not the glamorous girlfriend of a hot young artist but a single, almost-friendless cocktail waitress without a sense of direction is heartbreaking. We’ve all had to pick up the pieces when one of our friends suddenly wakes up one day and has been cheated on/dumped/parents divorced/fired/etc. Things come crashing down thisfast in your early twenties, so sure, Marnie’s having a dumb moment. But a human one.
Hannah. Hannah, no. Telling jokes to endear yourself to an interviewer is a sin of which we are all guilty. Unfortunately, this joke is far past the OK side of the line.
When Shoshana “we are the ladies” Shapiro buys snacks (from Dylan’s Candy Bar?) for the girls to eat while Jessa has her abortion (that she ends up not needing), Marnie rightfully scolds her for making a scene in the waiting room. But it’s also understandable. I mean, the only thing worse than waiting around while a friend terminates a pregnancy is waiting around while a friend terminates her pregnancy and you’re hungry. Also, it looks like Shosh brought enough to share, which is considerate.
Things Marnie does at the beach house:
-Assign everyone a bedroom (with name cards!) -Make a shopping list -Refuse to add things to the shopping list -Try to kick Elijah’s friends out before dinner -Make duck for dinner -Get perfectionist-y over a choreographed dance (“I think if we do it one more time, we’ll get it perfect.”)
Marrrrnnnnnieeeeeeee, what are we going to do with you? Yes, she just wants things to be nice. But she’s also the least socially-sensitive character on a show with a lot of socially-insensitive characters. Still, I defy you, stars, to plan an entire weekend getaway and not have at least one mini-tantrum if things don’t go according to plan. Being the planner of the group is hard! As Marnie herself put it, “Sometimes being stuck in my own head is so exhausting that it makes me want to cry.”
She’s a narcissist and so. Are. You.
The song she and Desi sing at the open mic…of all the songs in all the land, for f-ck’s sake. It’s like, wow, for real, seriously? And the karaoke! Also, when she makes Hannah sing Rent with her at Hannah’s birthday! Marnie has such a nice voice, it’s a pity she lacks all self-awareness. Then again, I kind of get why it might sound fun to make a music video with your boyfriend in what appears to be an empty mansion. Even if it ends up as this…
Not that anything compares to the ultimate Marnie Moment: trying to get her boyfriend back by performing at his company’s party. Even worse, by performing Kanye at his company’s party.
(Allison Williams’ real-life husband Ricky Van Veen makes a cameo around the :37 mark. So at least we know things turned out OK IRL.