Inevitable Endings & What Lena Dunham is Getting Right at the end of ‘Girls’

Having watched ‘Girls’ since its inception, I would conclude every episode of every season not knowing whether Lena Dunham was self-indulgent with this work or if she was a brilliant mastermind.

The female characters within the world of HBO’s ‘Girls’ have been everything but likable. Relatable to some, probably. But only relatable to those who are willing to do a lot of self-analysis work, like Jung’s shadow work. Or those who are now on the other side of their 20s or 30s.

While I had been miffed with Dunham’s choices for these characters throughout the show’s run, I couldn’t help but wonder if she actually wanted us to sort of hate these women all along. While brutally honest and unapologetic, it was at times also trite. But who hasn’t encountered a millennial that wasn’t all those things within a five minute conversation? Being opinionated and brash doesn’t equate intelligence or wisdom. I know this to be true for certain.

However in this final season, Hannah and company seem to be coming to a precipice of change that strikes most in between the ages of 25 and 30 where individuals finally start to realize a few things:

  1. It’s not cute anymore to be a party girl/boy. Despite how much fun you think you’re having, everyone else has left the party and you’re left alone — or worse, with people much younger than you who are coming up to replace you. Every party has to end.
  2. You can’t blame all the terrible things that are happening in your life on everyone else. You will always be the common denominator to the drama in your life. Even if you want to believe that you’re victim to the random cruelty of life, your decision to believe that you are a victim (and have self-entitlement to pity from others as a victim) is just that — a decision, which can be changed.
  3. Who you think you are is ego, which is driven by fear to survive. As mentioned before, when you go into a lot of self-analysis work, like Jung or Debbie Ford’s efforts for those wanting a lite version, you start to openly and honestly look within the darkness of your own character. Not as a practice of continued judgment — but to merely look upon yourself and all your behaviors and actions and feelings and thoughts without judgment. To release yourself from your ego so that you can evolve into a whole person.
  4. You cannot get by in the world without money or stability. As much as you want to be a bohemian or hippie, it’s not fucking responsible. And parents are not enslaved to take care of their adult children who still want to find out who they are by taking on a myriad of careers or jobs that make no sense. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to be a capitalistic workhorse, but at some point you have to let go of some of your idealized dreams of the world and settle down for reality and finding the happiness that can be found right in front of you when you let it.

What’s been wonderful to see, especially in the penultimate episode from last week, is the honesty that these characters have about needing change. The recognition and acknowledgment that old behaviors, old situations and old relationships no longer serve them and no longer assist them in a life evolving. Staying in the same place — figuratively and literally, is not fulfilling to the human spirit.

Because without progress — what are you? Mostly unhappy. Well, if not unhappy — then just stuck. In time. And maybe I’ve not reached an age where a perceived lack of motion or momentum doesn’t equate death? Time will tell.

Chapters end, but the story continues

I’m at my own precipice. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for over two years, we’re moving in together into a new apartment and I’m getting older myself. I would say this is the most grounded, stable, healthy and good I’ve felt in a long time and I reminisce on the last seven years.

There’s this belief that human change, including body, spirit and mind, occurs every seven years, which does coincide with what are sort of monumental points. 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, etc.

I first moved to Chicago in 2010, when I was 27. That change was prompted by an itch to move and try something else, to be daring and willing to fuck up a good thing. At the time I was living in Indianapolis, I was dating someone, had a very stable and great job, met some of the best friends I have to date and lost a whole bunch of weight after coming to terms with being openly gay. And having all that, I still felt stagnant after a time.

So I decided to move. Without a job. Without a boyfriend. I was willing to walk away from all the safety and security I knew to see what else I could be — and truth be told, to see if who I thought I was turned out to be the truth.

Well, seven years on I am now looking back and a lot has happened (thank you, Ellen). The nostalgia came with a sense of mourning what has been and I promptly checked myself. Instead of feeling a loss toward many things (being single, living alone, being able to stay up and go out past 10pm on a weeknight, my metabolism), I realized how fortunate I was instead.

I think of all the love I’ve experienced. And all the heartache which taught me more about myself — and others — than just having everything be perfect all the time.

I struggled with depression, anxiety, probably an eating disorder, money, drinking, etc. Nothing that makes me special, unique or different from anyone else. I mean, who hasn’t gone through all of that? So in that sense, I can certainly relate to ‘Girls’. I’ve knowingly made terrible decisions just to see how they played out. To play with fire for the sake of playing with fire.

But at some point, I stopped. I started to grow up. I made a different choice (or a number of choices) to find ways to take care of myself once I got to Chicago and went through all these things. I went to therapists, I overdid it with exercise, I wrote a lot and I tried to meet a lot of people to just expose myself to others (probably in more ways than one should) and, ultimately, to peel back more of who I was in an effort to know what I wanted out of life when it came to a job, a partner, friends.

What I learned is this: Everyone needs therapy and Change is excruciating. Being willing to admit you’re not perfect and need help in making sense of the insanity humankind has made for itself is brave. And it takes bravery to willingly change with eyes wide open and make the decision to change vs being dragged along kicking and screaming. Again, it goes back to point #2 above.

What I enjoyed about this week’s episode of ‘Girls’ was the scene of the friend meeting in the bathroom to acknowledge the change, the growth and the fact that people don’t always stay friends. And that fact isn’t mutually exclusive with becoming enemies, despite what any Real Housewives franchise on Bravo may have you believe.

I’ve known and met many people who I am no longer friends with. Some of those endings I regret, especially when it comes to those I’ve loved. But I realize the endings don’t erase the time and memories shared. In fact, those endings (like death) make me appreciate what I have in front of me so much more.

With only one episode left from Lena Dunham and HBO, ‘Girls’ will go out on a high note in my estimation just because we have seen the changing of the guard. Instead of ‘Sex and The City’, we’ve seen the aging of a different generation at a different point in their lives which has been less described. We always hear about the end of childhood and the transition to adulthood, or the transition from successful people who leave their careers for the twilight of their lives.

This narrow time period where people start to learn who they are, and make decisions firmly rooted in their own beliefs to find individual success (however defined) is precious in every person’s life. When you step away from your peer group to stand alone with both feet planted is freedom.

And I realize that’s where I’m at today and it feels beautifully frightening.

(MORE: Read this interesting article about the evolution of ‘Girls’ key art for each season.)