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Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 10, "I Love You Baby"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “I Love You Baby”

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 10, “I Love You Baby”

Several characters make significant psychological progress in tonight’s season finale of Girls, which begins and ends with Hannah (Lena Dunham) jogging. The first instance is played for laughs, as she plows doggedly up and down her block, in workout clothes that couldn’t be less flattering, while her parents (Becky Ann Baker and Peter Scolari), camped out on her stoop, try to get her to acknowledge their presence. The second is played straight, with a determined Hannah running toward the camera in the great outfit her mom bought for her reading at the Moth’s creative writing slam. But whether it’s presented as comedy or drama, the jogging is yet another sign that Hannah is learning how to take care of herself.

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 9, "Love Stories"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “Love Stories”

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 9, “Love Stories”

The first half of Girls’s two-part season finale deals with several kinds of love: romantic, platonic, and that sparkly feeling somewhere in the middle that can spring up in the glow of a new friendship, like the one between Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her old classmate and nemesis, Tally (Jenny Slate). It’s surprising to see Hannah connect so deeply with a new potential friend, especially someone whose success used to trigger such jealousy in her. Maybe it helps that Hannah hasn’t been writing—or doing much else—for so long that she no longer feels as if she’s in competition with Tally. As she says, when she accepts her offer to hang out: “I’m not really headed anywhere particular at the moment.”

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "Hello Kitty"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, “Hello Kitty”

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, “Hello Kitty”

Because it’s about the emotional lives of a group of young women, Lena Dunham’s Girls is also very much about friendship—real friendship, not the wish-fulfillment kind you see on TV shows where a tight little group of besties go through life in lockstep, anatomizing every triumph or frustration over cocktails or coffee. So one of the most poignant motifs of the show’s last couple of seasons is how Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna often grow slowly, almost imperceptibly apart as their interests change or they head out of town for a while—whether it’s the Iowa Writer’s Workshop or rehab or Tokyo.

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 6, "The Panic in Central Park"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 6, “The Panic in Central Park”

Mark Schafer

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 6, “The Panic in Central Park”

Last night’s installment of Girls continues this season’s run of eventful, emotionally revealing episodes, in which one or two of the main characters zigzag toward some kind of self-awareness, often while exploring an unfamiliar environment. The settings feel like a significant part of that awakening, since Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends spent the great majority of the first four seasons either indoors or on dark city streets at night. These artificially lit, often cramped or crowded locations functioned as a series of cocoons in which the characters hung out almost exclusively with people more or less like themselves. But the girls are breaking out of gentrified Brooklyn more than ever this season, exploring environments like a sun-drenched Coney Island, cat cafés and communal hot tubs in Tokyo, or that spa where Hannah and her mom went to last week.

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 4, "Old Loves"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 4, “Old Loves”

Mark Schafer

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 4, “Old Loves”

Like a Jane Austen novel, Girls seems obsessed lately with pairing its main characters up with long-term mates, but the romance is mostly a smokescreen for the show’s—especially this season’s—main focus: the slow, often painful crawl toward emotional maturity. As in Austen’s work, making a good romantic match on Girls is just one of the more easily dramatized rewards of gaining enough self-knowledge to know what you want and enough self-discipline to make the sacrifices to get it. Several key characters make progress toward earning their relationship stripes in “Old Loves,” with Elijah (Andrew Rannells) leading the way with all the sparkly delight of a drum major.

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 1, "Wedding Day"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “Wedding Day”

Mark Schafer

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 1, “Wedding Day”

The season-five premiere of Girls is a microcosm of the series as a whole. It mercilessly flays its four female leads and the men who love them, autopsying their narcissism, unearned self-pity, blindered entitlement, and youthful arrogance with a precision so clinical it can be hard to watch when it isn’t slyly funny. But if they’re easy to condemn, the characters are hard to dismiss, as their just as honestly depicted insecurities, intermittent acts of kindness, and deeply felt, if inchoate, love for each other lead to moments of hard-earned grace and connection.

Girls Recap Season 4, Episode 9, "Daddy Issues"

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Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “Daddy Issues”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 9, “Daddy Issues”

“Daddy Issues” is all about boundaries—the necessary divisions we erect between our public lives and our private ones—and how quickly they can dissolve. As her confessional writing demonstrates, Hannah (Lena Dunham) has never been shy about sharing the most intimate details of her personal life, but now that she’s a substitute teacher, she’s expected to maintain a level of decorum she’s unaccustomed to. Given that Hannah is dealing with even more upheaval than usual, it’s no surprise she’s unable to keep her personal issues from intruding on her work life, a failure that leads to a funny, revealing exchange early in the episode. Reprimanding his employee for her inappropriately close relationship with her student (Maude Apatow), Toby (Douglas McGrath), the school’s principal, explains, “You need to be mindful of boundaries.” Clueless, Hannah replies, “I think the reason that’s been hard for me this week is because my father recently came out of the closet as a proud gay man.” Shaking his head, Toby clarifies, “That’s exactly [what] I’m talking about,” but his words are lost on Hannah, who can’t grasp why her actions are inappropriate. “Nice jeans,” she says as their meeting adjourns, and Toby, with an exasperated sigh, can only reply, “Boundaries.”

Girls Recap Season 4, Episode 8, "Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz"

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Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 8, “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 8, “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz”

“I’m not the person you think I am,” explains Hannah (Lena Dunham) to Fran (Jake Lacy) in a telling exchange in “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz.” She’s attempting to disabuse her co-worker of the idea that she’s “dramatic” so he’ll consider a date with her, but Fran’s response inverts her charge of ignorance: “I think you are exactly the person that I think you are. I think you’re not the person that you think you are.” He’s right, of course, and at some level, Hannah realizes it, but she persists in her initial self-conception: “I’m not dramatic…I’m a person who really gets a lot out of life,” she tells her mother (Becky Ann Baker), rather dramatically. Like much of this season of Girls, the episode focuses on the gap between how we see ourselves and how others see us, but it advances that theme in interesting ways by considering how we respond when that gap becomes perceptible to both ourselves and others.

Girls Recap Season 4, Episode 6, "Close-Up"

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Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 6, “Close-Up”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 6, “Close-Up”

“Close-Up” begins with a tender portrait of romantic devotion that the episode slowly, cunningly upends. Waking up next to Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs) in her exquisitely adorned loft apartment, Adam (Adam Driver) tucks in his still-slumbering lover and prepares for her a breakfast of Goop-level refinement: a rustic loaf of bread, an assortment of cheeses, matching mugs of coffee. As he arranges the plates for an al fresco meal on the terrace, the Zombies sing about romantic exceptionalism: “Can’t nobody love you like I’m loving you, baby/’Cause they don’t know how to love you like I do.” In addition to presenting Adam’s new relationship as more idyllic than anything he ever experienced with Hannah (Lena Dunham), the scene reasserts his role as caretaker; as in his previous relationship, he’s the patient nurturer, and his beloved is the beneficiary who receives his singular dedication with gratitude.

Girls Recap Season 4, Episode 5, "Sit-In"

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Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 5, “Sit-In”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 4, Episode 5, “Sit-In”

Picking up immediately where last week’s episode left off, “Sit-In,” an impeccably constructed tour de force, finds Hannah (Lena Dunham) reacting to the news that Adam (Adam Driver) is living with a new girlfriend, Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs), in their previously shared apartment. Shell-shocked by the discovery, she shuts herself up in her old room, leaving Adam to call on her friends to coax her out. What ensues is a series of encounters between Hannah and the show’s primary players, as the apartment becomes a revolving door of presumptive caretakers.