This past week my Instagram was flooded with sneak peeks of the final season of “Girls” and throw back shots of the four women for whom the show is named. While “Girls” had its big moment—it was both roundly celebrated and criticized—the show has largely faded out of the cultural conversation, replaced by a stream of derision for Lena Dunham’s Twitter blunders.
While her sometimes off color remarks can be cringeworthy, I like her all the more for it. I am grateful for her unapologetic sense of self, for the openness of her self-figuring. I know I am not alone in mourning the end of “Girls,” not because I wanted to be them, but because I loved seeing their friendships, in all their complexity, played out.
Dunham, in life and art, puts the spotlight on the connections women form with each other. “Female Friendship,” she proclaimed on her feminist variety show “Women of the Hour,” “has been the driving force in my life. I love loving men, but I love knowing women.” Friendship is undeniably the driving force behind the show.
The true intimacy lies between the women. The sheer number of scenes that take place in the bathroom—the friends taking baths together, or talking while they shave their legs or pee—are more intimate than the (very) numerous awkward and uncomfortable sex scenes. The bathroom as a private place connotes intimacy the way the bedroom would in a romantic relationship.
While “Girls” is often compared to “Sex and the City,” the intimacy takes a different tone, in part, because millennials’ priorities are portrayed as different; it is more homosocial and less focused on the eventual ringing of wedding bells, for one.
The upholding of female friendship is so important not because it portrays friendship as pure, but because it revels in the messiness of it. In 2012, Lena Dunham told Interview Magazine, “A lot of the female relationships I see on TV or in movies are in some way free of the kind of jealousy and anxiety and posturing that has been such a huge part of my female friendships, which I hope lessens a little bit with age.”
Friends break your heart—they sleep with your ex or simply forget about you in the wake of a new relationship, but usually it’s not about men at all. Friends can change in ways you don’t, leaving you behind, or they can be competitive in ways that make you feel small.
The reality of friendship is that it is difficult. And Lena Dunham isn’t afraid of taking this complicated, gratifying and infuriating part of our lives and following its many knotted strands. She reminds us how important the supporting cast is.
While Dunham’s character, Hannah, is irritatingly narcissistic, it is the very sense of self-importance that makes the show pass the Bechdel test with such flying colors—the major number of the scenes feature women talking about something other than a man. So I prepare to bid adieu to “Girls” and thank Dunham for starting a trend in TV where female friendship gets its due as the leading lady.
Season six of “Girls” premiered yesterday on HBO. Catch the following episodes on Sundays at 10 p.m.
Featured image: courtesy of HBO.