episode frames motherhood as the ultimate and inevitable resting
place for the wild woman. It is problematic that Hannah’s
problems are solved and narrative closure is achieved by giving in
to this domestic space, and the resolution is a bit pat that viewers
finally see the protagonist as an adult when Grover successfully
latches. While Hannah did not end up finding herself through a
relationship with a man, Dunham’s choice to portray success for
Hannah as relegated to the domestic sphere and dependent upon
her ability to be comfortable in that role further negates an
envisioning of women’s ability to successfully navigate all spheres
of life that feminism could garner access to for girls and women.
Girls is a product of female empowerment envisioned as an
individually attained concept. Although some viewers may read
characters on the series as stand-ins for real women, the show is
not feasibly generalizable. This series is a long series of snapshots
of four women in all their flawed, human glory. Try to apply Girls
to what it must be like for all women, and you will certainly fail.
The show is too White, too privileged, and not nearly political
enough to speak for women or for feminism. To discard Girls as
anti-feminist is far too simple, however. Postfeminism, as Gill
notes, “is clearly a response to feminism” (163). Let’s consider it a
response but not a refutation. Girls exemplifies much of what
proponents of gender equity demand of society: women with
identities separate from men, imbued with full humanity, and
possessing the opportunity for self-determination. Lena Dunham’s
creation, despite its problems, still brings forth an occasional sigh
of relief from me as I am sometimes refreshed by her characters
who, despite leaning on narrative tropes, consistently push back
against the cookie-cutter, traditionally modest-yet beautiful leading
ladies of film and television past. In the other moments, however,
I am reminded that Dunham herself, when pushed to describe the
second season on David Letterman, summed up the plot this way:
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