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Girls (#110 of 67)

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 8, "Homeward Bound"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 8, “Homeward Bound”

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 8, “Homeward Bound”

Hannah (Lena Dunham) finally breaks up with Fran (Jake Lacy) in tonight’s episode of Girls, but it doesn’t register as drama, let alone tragedy. Instead, it plays out as absurdist, almost slapstick comedy. Looking slightly ludicrous, as always, in PJs and cowboy boots, Hannah escapes the RV Fran rented for the summer, which she insists on calling a “house car,” and runs away from him at a rest stop—until she trips on a tree branch and lands ass up on the ground. It’s a fitting end to a relationship that always felt fated to fail, his bland sweetness and respect for the status quo fatally out of balance with her sharp tongue and reflexive rebelliousness. Their breakup doesn’t appear to be a particularly big deal even for Hannah, who tells a kind stranger who gives her a ride later that day that she’s more upset about the fact that Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Adam (Adam Driver) are fucking.

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 5, "Queen for Two Days"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Queen for Two Days”

Craig Blankenhorn

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 5, “Queen for Two Days”

The uncharacteristically tidy march that Girls’s main characters have been making toward maturity and relative happiness gets satisfyingly disrupted in “Queen for Two Days,” which focuses on the surprising difficulty of figuring out who and what makes us feel at home. In the episode’s main storyline, Hannah (Lena Dunham) reluctantly spends a weekend at a tony spa with her mother, Loreen (Becky Ann Baker), who wants a time-out to figure out whether to stay in her marriage now that she knows that her husband is gay. Loreen tells Hannah about her decision in a speech that’s a realistic, if rueful, acknowledgement of what home means to her: “I know it sounds sad to you,” she says, “but I like our house, and your father’s very nice, and he makes me laugh when he does that Chris Rock. And he plays Scrabble really well. These things count for a lot.”

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 3, "Japan"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 3, “Japan”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 3, “Japan”

This season of Girls has been partly about constructing a situation for each of the main characters that could presumably hold steady after the series ends next year, and “Japan” tucks Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) cosily into her totally Shosh-friendly Tokyo apartment, whose brightly colored façade makes it look like one big piece of playground equipment. From the moment she wakes up, to an alarmingly cute alarm clock, it’s clear how well suited she is to her new city, from its love of all things young and perky to her doting boss, Yoshi (Hiro Mizushima), a curly haired cutie who sees her as “a shiny star.” When the two of them eye each other shyly in the company cafeteria, Shosh and her Japanese female co-workers holding cones of cotton candy while Yoshi and his boys lick ice cream cones, the stylized middle-school vibe is both touching (because it feels so right for Shoshanna) and sweetly absurd.

Girls Recap Season 5, Episode 2, "Good Man"

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Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, “Good Man”

HBO

Girls Recap: Season 5, Episode 2, “Good Man”

The “white man!” cry of alarm directed at Ray (Alex Karpovsky) by a non-cisgender barista after he insults her, first by assuming she’s male and then by asking if she’s female, echoes throughout the entirety of “Good Man.” Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends all have their awkward moments as they alternately embody or encounter the blurring of gender and sexual boundaries that have continued to accelerate since their college days, but it’s the straight—or until recently passing as straight—white men among them who struggle hardest to adapt.

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.