‘Girls’ Finale: Happily Ever After?

As the HBO series' first season comes to an end, we reflect on the girls' evolution.
By Amy Wilkinson

Lena Dunham in "Girls"

One of our first glimpses of aspiring writer Hannah Horvath, the plucky protagonist of HBO's freshman series "Girls," was as she soaked in the bath, noshing on a cupcake as best friend and roommate Marnie shaved her legs and bemoaned her lackluster relationship with boyfriend Charlie. So it seems only fitting that our last look at Hannah during Sunday's season finale also involved a baked good and a body of water. But this time it was a solitary Hannah sitting on a Coney Island beach, finishing off a piece of tin-foil-wrapped wedding cake as she contemplated, well, what exactly, we don't know.

It was a season of highs and lows for each of the four females on "Girls," as a litany of breakups, make-ups, sexually-transmitted-disease diagnoses and employment snafus culminated in one girl's wedding, one girl's first time and one girl's heartbreak. Let's take a look at each character's evolution during season one.

My chief complaint with Lena Dunham's Hannah as the series began was her incredible sense of entitlement: Her parents had been supporting her for the better part of two years as she toiled at an unpaid internship, and she expected nothing less from them. "I'm your only child, it's not like I'm draining your resources!" she huffed when mom and dad finally disavowed any financial responsibility for her. Yet it looked as though Hannah might redeem herself, landing a full-time gig after at least one incredibly awkward job interview (rape is never a work-appropriate topic of conversation, kids!). But it didn't last long as her boss was the grab-happy sort, and Hannah left, unsuccessfully trying to blackmail him for a sweet severance package on her way out. All of which left her Marnie's financial dependent — a status that ultimately ended their roommate relationship.

Hannah also struggled with relationships of the romantic variety, namely with wood-working actor Adam, who finally agreed to be her boyfriend. But Hannah got scared and messed that up, too.

For all intents and purposes, it seems our heroine grew the least of all the girls. But perhaps it's for the best, as there wouldn't be much of a show left if she had everything figured out.

Marnie, too, grappled with unsuccessful relationships this season, though it may have been the one with herself that needed the most help. Marnie, played by Allison Williams, began the season with a long-term boyfriend whom she couldn't stand. "His touch now feels like a weird uncle putting his hand on my leg at Thanksgiving," she told Hannah. Charlie learned of Marnie's feelings the hard way, when the contents of Hannah's diary, in which she mused over the pair's dysfunctional relationship, became public knowledge. Thus, the two were done. Then they weren't. Then they were again. And as much as Marnie had outgrown Charlie, it didn't make their breakup any easier when he fell right back into a relationship only a couple weeks later.

Something changed in Marnie, and she decided to live her life more freely, which apparently meant making out with Jessa and engaging in almost-threesomes. She also finally came to terms with how much of a mooch (both emotionally and financially) Hannah had become and moved out of their apartment and, temporarily, into Shoshanna's. Having no plans would be good for her, she said. Marnie's newfound whimsy even inspired her to make out with guest star Bobby Moynihan.

Then there's free spirit Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke. She blew into town at the series' onset, seemingly just stopping over until her next adventure pearl-shucking or climbing the Himalayas or meditating at an ashram. But she moved in with cousin Shoshanna and started a life for herself, taking a job babysitting two precocious Manhattan tykes — a situation that quickly got messy when the father made a pass at her during the most epic Bushwick warehouse party of the year. His impressively calm wife later asked Jessa to come back to the children, all the while knowing very well she couldn't. But her maternal instincts didn't flag, and she gave Jessa a piece of parting advice: "You're getting into dramas to distract from who you want to be."

The wisdom apparently cut Jessa deep, because as we saw during Sunday night's finale, she decided who she wanted to be, and that was a wife.

In a surprise ceremony, she wed Thomas-John, the guy who thought he was going to have a three-way with Jessa and Marnie. Will the spur-of-the-moment marriage last? We'll have to wait for season two to find out.

Finally, lest we forget, is Shoshanna, the most underutilized yet arguably most interesting character on "Girls." Unfortunately, her entire plot arc revolved around losing her virginity — something she finally did during "She Did." She'd come close before with a former fellow camper, but he didn't want the responsibility of taking her V-card, even if she was "the least virginy virgin ever." In the end, it was her crack spiritual guide Ray who was her first, and we can only hope he didn't get in her emotional way. If there's one thing season two could use more of, it's the wonderfully adept Zosia Mamet.

What did you think of Sunday night's "Girls" finale? Sound off in the comments below!

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