long story short: i was very on the fence about girls. but this is no longer the case. the av club wrote a most excellent bit covering the finale/the whole season in general, and it sums up my sentiments damn near perfectly. file this one under: the human condition.
I think what I liked best about this season is that the characters haven’t really changed. They’ve been through life-changing experiences, and they’ve done stuff that seems like they had been changed, but when you get right down to it, the characters in the finale are the characters from the pilot. Yet now we know so much more about them that we have a better read on the situations they get into. We can see how much Hannah defeats herself and keeps herself from accomplishing her goals. We can see how Jessa’s impulsiveness gets her into situations she can’t easily bluff her way out of. We can see how Shoshanna’s relative innocence and naïveté keep buoying her up, rather than dragging her down. Of the four, only Marnie seems willing to embrace anything like change.
Some might read this lack of change as a bad thing. Long-form narrative is supposed to be about characters growing toward something else and becoming more self-aware, right? And, yes, there are some series where that’s very much the case. Yet I think many of the best TV shows are about people who fundamentally don’t change, who remain more or less the same, yet continue to reveal new sides of themselves to us. They don’t change so much as our viewpoint on them does. I’d say Girls more than meets this challenge in its first season. We know these people better than we did in episode one, even if they’ve remained basically the same people. If you go back and watch that pilot, knowing what you know about the characters now, it’s obvious that Lena Dunham and her collaborators knew who these people were and were just letting us get to know them slowly. It’s a really tricky feat to pull off, but when it’s done, there’s nothing quite like it. — Todd VanDerWerff