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March 24, 2014

Girls Season 3 Finale Recap: Seasons Change, But Hannah Does Not

If last season was about Hannah's struggles with mental illness, perhaps this season was about the climb out of that emo chaos.

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Photo Credit: Mark Schafer/HBO

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SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you have not yet watched the season 3 finale of Girls titled, "Two Plane Rides."

How perfect that Caroline, in a crazy-eyed nod to the show's title, opens the finale by telling Hannah that she is pregnant and, more importantly, that "This is a woman." Caroline's unborn child may be making cognitive leaps from a fetus to a fully-formed human more advanced than almost any character on the show.

I'm not a developmental psychologist, but Hannah's narcissism is clinically juvenile—infantile, even. Children are inherently solipsistic and selfish; if you're a parent whose child has failed to develop or demonstrate empathy, it's time to start worrying. Which is why Hannah turning up to Adam's opening-night performance to break her big news about getting into Iowa's stellar MFA program is alarming: all of our anxious, parental-ish fears are being confirmed.

On the other hand, while it might have been an error of manners to insert herself into Adam's big night, in other ways, it was a coup to assert herself. Adam wasn't exactly being unselfish when he moved out, sidelining the other person in the relationship. She stuck up for herself, for what she wants to do, and it's gratifying on some level to see that Hannah realizes her happiness and success lie within herself, not within her relationship, or within Adam himself. I just hope that Adam Driver's new role as the Star Wars villain doesn't mean the breakup is the beginning of a long kiss goodbye, because he is one of the main reasons to watch the show.

If last season was about Hannah's struggles with mental illness, perhaps this season was about the climb out of that emo chaos. Er, maybe. One of the finest, sweetest, Girls-est moments of Girls, to me, was the scene in season one when Hannah and Marnie let loose to Robyn's "Dancing on My Own." The moment, without really saying anything, captured everything great about the show—a voice, a generation, etc. Might we even call it…hopeful? I can't think of a moment like that from this season, and maybe that's the point. Since Hannah has stumbled into the morass of post-collegiate averageness, there can be no more special moments like the Robyn one. Every milestone in Hannah's life has arrived in the plot with little or no fanfare—the relatively easily made book deal, the GQ job, and now the MFA program that surely took lots of work just to apply to. We never saw her job interview. We never saw her fill out an application for Iowa. We only see her turn OCD trying to type her book.

Except Hannah is not average—she is special. She has been telling us all along, insisting on it, and we've been too distracted by the red herrings of mundane humanity. Iowa is a confirmation for us, and for her. How many other great novelists have we watched grow up, in minute detail, before we enjoy their works?


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