Last month HBO’s oft-talked about “Girls” wrapped up its sixth and final season, seeing Hannah and Marnie raising Hannah’s baby in upstate New York, Shoshanna married off and Jessa presumably living with Adam — a far cry from where the show began and certainly not where many would have expected it to go.
But all things considered, the dissolution of “Girls” ’s infamous quad is the only realistic ending for these characters. Throughout its six seasons, key characters were sometimes absent — like Shosh leading up to the series’s penultimate episode. Or when Jessa disappeared before going to rehab. Or when Hannah dipped her toes into grad school in Iowa. Or when Shosh moved to Japan. While all but the first example featured out-of-the-city storylines, the point is this: For a show about a supposedly tight group of friends, these girls spend very little time together, and when they do, they’re usually arguing.
All in all, “Girls” is more of a character study on independent growth than it’s about friendship. Its pseudo-predecessor “Sex and the City” was built on scenes of the four iconic women dishing over breakfast, an encounter that seldom ended in argument. “Girls” ’s millennial B-side “Broad City” would have viewers in an uproar if an episode didn’t bother to feature one of it’s main characters or, furthermore, show them together. Nonetheless, the moments where the main four characters do end up within earshot of each other are as telling of the group’s fate as they are fun to watch. The series’s seventh episode, “Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident,” not only ages “Girls” from a 2017 perspective, but it also seems to foreshadow seasons of painful and sometimes cringe-worthy social dynamics to come by placing all of the show’s titular characters in the same vicinity for nearly an entire episode.
The episode opens on Hannah, Jessa and Marnie strolling down a deserted Bushwick sidewalk in search of the “best party ever,” as Jessa articulates her hopes for the evening. Instantly character division is rampant. Jessa in a fabulous, feathered get-up, Hannah looks like she’s going to the library to study (while questioning the validity of the phrase “best party ever”) and Marnie, of course, is ready for a five-course dinner at the fanciest restaurant I have never been to, looking like an uptight homecoming queen while complaining about being late to a warehouse party. While walking, Jessa gets a text from a number she doesn’t know and invites them to meet.
Where’s Shosh, you ask? As the three girls walk into the party hand in hand, Hannah spots Shosh leaning up against a wall alone until she whizzes toward her friends to declare, “I’m so happy to see you I could murder you,” after mentioning she has yet to speak to anyone. Let’s take a moment to compare this Shoshanna to the Shoshanna of her engagement party, who offers to “just call it” in regards to the foursome’s friendship. Shosh’s utter excitement sweeps the elephant in the room effectively under the rug: Why didn’t they all show up together?
Not only does this interaction highlight Shosh’s almost secondary status among the four, but it also underscores Shoshanna’s social pitfalls and lack of self-worth — something she begins to grapple with after smoking crack outside the bathroom thinking it was marijuana (a.k.a the Crackcident). After breaking it to Shosh that she has done crack, Jessa offers to be her “crack spirit guide” and then abruptly leaves her cousin (and friend?) with acquaintance Ray when she spots the father from her nannying job looking lost. (Surprise, he was the one who texted her to hangout.) The remainder of Shoshanna’s story line throughout the episode is her running, trying not to get raped by the man in plaid (Ray) while talking herself up to working out in the front of her kickboxing class. Once Ray finally catches up, Shosh kicks him in the balls.
The both of them will continue for the majority of the series doing the same type of thing. Shosh, talking herself up against her anxieties. First, in season 3 at the beach house when she goes off: “Sometimes I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting people who would actually be right for me instead of a bunch of whiny nothings as friends,” and then, finally, making it to the front of class(metaphorically) at her engagement party, when she’s found “pretty girls who have, like, jobs and purses and nice personalities.”
And Ray will spend the next five seasons getting his nuts kicked in by these girls as the audience gleefully watches. Remember when Hannah tried to blow him and crashed his new coffee truck? Or when he ends his relationship with Marnie and she declares he can’t end a relationship she doesn’t care about? Oooff.
Pre-crackcident, as the group assesses the Bushwick warehouse party. Jessa, unknowingly eyeing Adam, states “I do love a man who only hangs out with dykes.” Now, I’m not going to out-and-out label this as foreshadowing Jessa and Adam getting together four seasons later, but I’m also not going to underestimate the show’s masterminds (Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow) and chalk it up to coincidence either. Immediately after sighting Adam, Hannah ditches all of them to “not talk” to Adam. Shosh mentions to Marnie that Charlie is playing, which Marnie already knew but nonetheless she angrily snaps “Now I have to go say, ‘Hi’.”
The quickness with which the four of them come together and split apart subtly undermines the bonds the show is supposedly based on. Marnie’s post-break up sense of superiority is shattered when she sees Charlie with his new girlfriend, and without Hannah there to berate she finds the closest second when she runs into Hannah’s now-gay ex-boyfriend from college, Elijah. When he mirrors Marnie’s breaking-up-with-me-should-be-difficult brand of narcissism with Hannah’s I-do-what-I-must selfishness, she shuts down and falls back on Hannah: a safe friendship where one’s bad qualities can be overshadowed by the other’s, allowing both of them to carry on without acknowledging their personal flaws.
The culmination of the episode, however, is the most telling. After leaving the party with Adam to go through a dump, Hannah calls Marnie to come get her in a cab and “save her,” but as Marnie pulls up on her white (yellow) horse (cab) shouting about Adam’s “sick instincts” — the “good friend” — Adam asks Hannah, “Is that it? Do you want me to be your fucking boyfriend?” Cut to the three of them crammed in the back seat of the cab sitting silently as a smile breaks across Hannah’s face.
This final moment of pure girlish joy doesn’t stray far from the fashion in which the series ended: a shot of relief on Hannah’s face as baby Grover finally takes to her nipple. As with the final episode, it’s Hannah and Marnie left with the object of Hannah’s affection. Marnie’s narcissism begets her to “save the day,” whether that’s saving Hannah from Adam or assisting her in motherhood. Shosh is left to find her own happiness and Jessa’s mess is Jessa’s mess to deal with. All in all, at the party and throughout the series, “Girls” didn’t refer to these girls collectively — from beginning to end they weren’t the tight-knit group they were sometimes made out to be — but rather as individuals who aren’t defined by their friendship to each other but are defined on their own terms and by their individual actions and desires.
Now in 2017, Bushwick has been almost fully gentrified and the girls have lost themselves permanently at the warehouse party that is their 20s. I would say that is for better or for worse, but it’s certainly for the better.