I WENT TO SLEEP and when I woke up, Girls was a romantic comedy. A romantic comedy on crack, running through the streets in its underwear holding its skirt over its head, wondering if a Ray will come.
We’ve talked before about romantic comedies and the weird experiment the culture has accidentally conducted on the generation of women who grew up on them before everyone decided that Romantic Comedies Are The Worst.
Here’s what I said then, which I feel like I have to confess again to account for what follows:
...many women have been hard-wired to be genuinely moved by storylines that we have also, much later, been taught to regard as stupid. The result is that the genuine emotions that arise in response to a romantic comedy come with feelings of shame. Some of us try to keep our responsiveness to these storylines secret, since it privately confirms our schlockiness and bad taste.
When Hannah’s father accuses her of manipulating him, she asks how she can be manipulative if she doesn’t know she’s doing it. He cites multiple instances where she’s turned a blind eye to her own motivations; Hannah has a lifelong habit of unconscious manipulation.
In this episode, I felt unconsciously manipulated. Like, HARDCORE. If Girls is usually in an aggressive tug-of-war with its viewers and critics, in this episode the rope went slack. The finale was a startling capitulation to everything those of us raised on romantic comedies think we want. Since Girls began, we’ve seen what happens when Hannah gets what she wants, and when Adam gets what he wants, and when Marnie gets what she wants. Now, in the season finale, we finally get what we want: as straightforward a tale of humiliation, darkness, and redemption through love as you’re likely to find. And — like Hannah, Adam, and Marnie — we ultimately don’t feel very good about how getting what we want turned out.
I’ve been binging lately on Maria Bamford, whose weird performances of femininity are equal parts disturbing, accurate, affectionate, and barbed. A lot of her material is based on her own OCD (one episode of the Maria Bamford show is actually called Oh CD), but this episod...read more