Girls 5×09 – 5×10: ‘Love Stories / I Love You Baby”: Real progress

Girls 5x10 Cover

There’s something inherently satisfying about the end of this season of Girls, more so than other seasons.  Other seasons had the characters lost in their ways, trying to find clarity and purpose only to find nothing on the other side but more questions.  Here, even though the characters are still certainly struggling, there’s a sense that they’re moving toward some inevitable destination, that they’re growing up in some fashion and are figuring out who they are and how they fit into the world.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

It’s a horribly difficult task, to figure out who you are and how you fit into the world.  It involves taking risks that might lead you to more loss and harm, and it involves gambling on your identity, potentially finding that you’re not who you think you are.  Personal story: I thought, for my whole life, that I wanted to be a teacher, only to hate the actual job when I got into the classroom. I had made a miscalculation, not only about public education, but also about myself and what I wanted out of life.  As I grew as a person and as I became more confident in my identity, I found that I wanted something more than what teaching had to offer.  And that’s okay.  People grow, people change, and their needs and desires change with that.  I’m pursuing digital communication and web development now, and I feel better, like the path I’m on is my own instead of what I thought I wanted as a kid.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

This season may have occasionally pushed Hannah to the side, but the season finale put her front and center, showing how Fran and teaching isn’t the life that she wants for herself and that she wants to go back to pursuing writing as a career.  It’s a great story that takes her on an adventure with Tally (her nemesis from Season 1), where she comes to terms with her identity as a writer and the reality of simply existing.  Tally is deeply struggling mentally and emotionally as a result of her fame as a writer, and while it may seem like a problem that doesn’t mean much, it makes Hannah realize that there’s struggle inherent in being a person.  Being a teacher, being a writer, she’s going to have trouble no matter what she does.  Hannah has been afraid for so long of dealing with adversity, and these two episodes show her finding the strength to push forward.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

It’s what pushes her to tell her story at an event for The Moth.  She has to rely on only herself once she realizes that she can’t use notes while telling her story.  She has to face fear and adversity in order to make any progress.  And it’s a lesson that everybody is learning this season.  Shoshanna, after failing in Japan and moving back to America, finds her voice through working as a marketing agent for Ray.  Marnie, after finding that her romantic fantasy (Desi) is simply fantasy, finds solace with Ray, rekindling their romantic relationship.  Elijah is finding that he wants to approach relationships in a different fashion after having strong feelings for a man who doesn’t feel the same way.  And Jessa and Adam, after existing in a state of fantasy all season, find out how the past rears its ugly head during relationships, no matter how hard you try to dismiss it.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Jessa and Adam’s lesson is the most visceral, as the fight they had is very intense and very disturbing.  They scream, they swear, they throw things at each other, they physically assault each other, and while it’s all very intense, I found myself more interested in why this was happening.  Jessa and Adam have lived in a fantasy world all season, living on the surface of their relationship, essentially existing in this state of delusional bliss.  But.  Jessa harbors feelings of resentment because of the deterioration of her relationship with Hannah.  Adam is under extreme stress because his family is falling apart.  And these are things that they HAVE to deal with, that they can’t push away.  In the end, they do deal with it, as they end up having sex on the floor of the destroyed apartment, but the bliss is gone.  They’re in a real relationship now, and they have to figure out how to go from there (or even if they want to go from there).

Season 5 of Girls has been absolutely phenomenal, almost as good as the transcendent Season 2.  It takes these people, who have struggled to find who they are and what their place is for so long, and positions them for a great push in the final season of the show.  Some of what can feel difficult about Girls is the sense of stagnation, how progress moves back and forth and doesn’t really stick.  But here, in the finale of Season 5, we finally get some catharsis.  The freeze frame that closes the season is a step that feels like progress, like Hannah has finally succeeded at something and is ready to move on.  Of course, she’ll struggle and fail and be miserable.  But that’s just part of life.  And she knows that now.

What did you think of this double episode?  Are you as happy with this season as I am?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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