The girls of GIRLS were never a group of best friends. They — Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna — were four young women bound to one another by proximity, nostalgia, history, convenience and because there’s no surviving New York City alone. They used each other: Jessa used Shoshanna for her apartment, Shoshanna used Jessa for her social life, Marnie used Hannah to refuel her self-esteem and Hannah used all three as an audience for her breathless soliloquy.
I think we use certain friends and friendships more than we speak about. People come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime, as my mom likes to remind me. Though it sounds cold and crass, some friends are transitional, there to guide us from a sore spot to clarity, there to remind us of home or keep us from feeling alone, there to explore new terrain with, to be mutually beneficial emotional punching bags, to meet new people, to have someone to come back to, to ground us, if only for a bit.
Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Soshanna should have quit using one another years earlier. They should have let their toxic friendships fade and found new support systems. But to state the obvious, there would be no Girls without the girls. The solo episodes never seemed to hit quite as deeply as scenes similar to Shoshanna’s bathroom sermon. And so they stayed. Their disjointed, superficial “group,” the bad relationship that you refuse to leave because loneliness seems a far scarier fate than misery. Like Marnie admitted to Hannah’s mom in the final episode, none of them felt that it was their time to be happy. It was on the horizon — it had to be. Why else would they keep going? For six seasons it was as though they were all waiting for their lives to start, and until they crossed the bridge, they walked in a formidable, arm-in-arm fortress of young female friendship.
There’s always safety in numbers.
Shoshanna was the first one to accept that the spell had long been broken. She stopped seeking refuge from the group, took a risk and engaged with other characters. It took an isolating sabbatical in Japan to feel what lonely really meant — and that even at her most despondent, she was fine without Hannah and company. An auxiliary character designed for comedic relief whose larger role wrote itself when the cast needed a female rock, Shoshanna’s “enlightenment” shouldn’t have been the surprise that it was for so many fans. As the mascot, it was her job to keep the team together, but how can you when the players make it impossible? She had to move on or she’d sink. Soshanna crossed the bridge of delayed adolescence, independent of the Girls, and moved on with her adult life.
What no one anticipated is that Hannah would be next. A newborn will do that to you, as I have learned from my friends with kids. Schedules get complicated. Attitudes pivot. Proximity widens. Convenience is gone and priorities shift. Not all friendships wither because of it, but not all friendships survive, either. Less fucks about “the drama” are given and reality becomes, well, a reality.
When Hannah’s baby, Grover, finally latches on to her in the final scene, and for one rare, ephemeral moment everything is at peace, she experiences what Shoshanna was trying to explain: that entire worlds exists beyond the universe as you know it.
Photo via HBO.