ByDavid McDermott, writer at
TV Reviews with a Scottish flair...which is code for moaning a lot. Find more of my stuff at
David McDermott

I remember one lonesome night I was up at around 5am (not an uncommon thing for me) looking for something to watch and I thought, although I’m clearly not their target audience (penis and all that jazz), I’ll give it a go, cracked through four episodes and was like ‘damn that shit was good!’. It was just so different, especially from a show with a female perspective. In many ways it is hard to believe that we have now reached the end of season 4 and what was once a great step towards difference has, well… I’ll get to that eventually.

There will be spoilers in this review.

Season 3 of [Girls](series:719464) left us wondering what Hannah would do about her Iowa college writers thing (I know, what a cliff-hanger… a fairly low cliff where you're probably not going to die if you fell off but a cliff nonetheless) and it picked up showing us that Hannah had in fact taken the spot at Iowa. That’s the first problem the show encountered in this season. The show is meant to be about the girls (hence the name) and the city (yes, another show about the mystical city of New York, very original), this is naturally pretty hard to do when you move your main character into Iowa, leaving the rest of the cast behind and well… I mean Iowa… Anyway we all knew it wouldn’t last and she would eventually come back after realising that she isn’t in fact a particularly good writer (wonder if Lena Dunham has come to the same realisation). I don’t have a problem with the move to Iowa as such but rather the fact that it felt unnecessary and odd after three seasons of being told that Hannah was this interesting writer who had book deals and the like actually couldn’t cut it in a postgrad course. Yes they needed her to get back to New York with the rest of the cast but they buried themselves into this hole where the character has to take an unrealistic step to further the story. I get that Hannah is self-deprecating and can’t help but get in the way of herself but is it honestly believable that after a couple of months (if it was even that) she would just pack it in and give up on writing to become a substitute teacher? I mean I could accept this more if she was being constantly rejected but as I have already said she had a fucking book deal at one point, the whole thing seemed so forced, a classic case of a show forcing a character in an unnatural direction to try and feed a certain narrative.

Speaking of Hannah and Iowa, we also got this weird as fuck episode where she essentially breaks the fourth wall and says fuck you to all her critics. Anyone with half a brain will know that the scene where she is being slaughtered by her peers is her way of sticking it to the critics and using her TV show as a vehicle to reply to their criticisms but in a manner which it doesn’t look like she is lowering herself. Personally I found this pretty pathetic. You can’t with one hand lap it up when the critics are calling you the voice of a generation only to get all pissy when they start to criticise the drop in quality and direction of your show. Lena Dunham really needs to stop reading her press clippings and start focusing on her plot ideas, the show would be a lot better for it.

All of this and I haven’t even started to talk about the character of Hannah personally. Before I start writing something I always take a look around to see what other people have written so that I can see what the general consensus is, because many a time in life you can have wildly different opinions to pretty much everyone else (some people will tell you White Chicks is a good movie for instance). I’ve found that the general consensus is that Hannah as a character grew in this season and the ending of the last episode where she rejects Adam and ends up with nice guy teacher was proof of that, I don’t agree. Once again I feel that they’ve forced her into a situation where it feels unnatural for the character to be in. I don’t have a problem with character growth at all (general it is a good thing) but I do have a problem with people having wild swings in personality, it’s a bit like Rush Limbaugh coming out and saying that he’s went away and thought about it and he’s now a hardcore liberal, it isn’t believable. Ok that’s an extreme example but I find it hard to believe that this person in particular can go through this sort of change, in this sort of manner, it feels like writing for writings sake (sort of like the whole OCD thing which has disappeared…). I read a lot of criticisms about the show and about how people think the characters are unlikable and in many ways it is a fair criticism because Hannah isn’t a particularly likable character anymore, but that’s who she is as a person, people don’t change overnight because they find out their dad is gay and see a baby being delivered. Is it fair to criticise the writing of the character so harshly, when all they are trying to do is make her more sympathetic (something for the last couple of seasons she has not been)? Well yes, sometimes people are just bad people and the change in Hannah’s personality has much more to do with what the media is saying than it has to do with a well-planned out character arc, that’s the issue. One positive thing I will say about Hannah is that at least she didn’t get naked as much (or at all? Nothing springs to mind, although that may be more to do with blocked trauma than forgetfulness) so not everything was so bad.

Girls is a character driven show so I’ll continue on in that regard by moving onto Marnie, who is…how can I put this nicely…awful. She was always the weakest character, essentially a pretty bobble headed personality lacking character who added little to nothing to the show, which is made all the worse by the way the character has been written since the start as she has progressively became more and more of a total selfish bitch with each passing episode. I always found the character odd because she doesn’t fit in with the other three girls because she has nothing to define her as unique. It is what it is but she is meant to be a likable character and she is anything but. So when in the last episode her fiancé ditches her but she goes up onstage and sings her shit song, you don’t want her to do well, you don’t want her to win because ultimately she is a horrible person. Yes you are happy for Ray because the guy is cool but for all the world you want Marnie to lose. The role is essentially ‘I’m co-dependent on a man, boo hoo’ and then some crying for effect, it is further not helped by the fact that the chick can’t actually act…

I’m not a big fan of Shoshanna, it isn’t that I dislike her, rather I nothing her which is concerning because that is as bad if not worse than not liking a character. One of the things that bothered me is that her story arc pretty much took the Marnie path of her becoming reliant on a man, is this show not meant to be about single independent women? (or was that Sex and the City?) I mean seriously you need a coffee shop guy (who granted gave a great speech and was also cool [must be something about coffee shop guys]) to tell you that a guy who you’ve barely just met but is wanting you to give up the chance of a great job, move in with and take a job at his work (becoming overly reliant on him) that it probably isn’t a good idea. Take this into real life, if a guy (or girl) you are seeing is wanting to go on holiday with you after a couple of months of dating, it’s probably a tell-tale sign to back the shit away because you have a clinger on your hands and unless you’re an incredibly needy person it probably isn’t a great idea to extend the relationship much further. Now here’s the other problem that I encountered with the Shoshanna arc, I don’t know how many people who read this will have lived in the real world of being a college (university) graduate looking for a job, however it is hard. What is incredibly unlikely is that you as a recent graduate with little to no experience in the field are going to get numerous high ranking interviews, one on one with the heads of companies. I’m sorry but the graduate market is formulated through a number of stupid tests and bogus questions before you even get to walk in that door to have an interview, and nine times out of ten it won’t be an actual interview but rather some sort of shity assessment day where you pretend to be a happy person with a group of likeminded people all vying for that solitary position. It’s shit, it’s a grind but that’s what it is. What we got with Shoshanna was what writers who obviously haven’t been through the process of getting an actual job think getting a job interview is like. The chances of going to an international firm and being offered the job there on the day are slim to none, but I guess that isn’t what makes good television… At least we have Shosh going off to Japan (in all likelihood) which could lead to something interesting, that or her co-workers are mean to her and she moves back to New York to become a sub teacher, now that would be good television…

Jessa is and always has been the best of the four main characters in Girls, which leads me to ask why since season 1 they haven’t really had anything for her. She was a ghost in this season once again which is mindboggling. This is where the writers confuse me because in so many ways Jessa is a flawed character who shouldn’t really be likable but she is. Jessa is essentially what Hannah and Marnie should be minus the addictions and Englishness. In that way all the characters are similar, they all get in their own way and are all doomed to fail but as an audience you should want them to succeed. With Jessa I feel this, with the rest I don’t and in many ways this says everything about the feelings I now have about Girls, I don’t like this show anymore.

One of the biggest ironies of Girls is that the show is named Girls, is written mainly by a female yet all the best characters are male. Adam has clearly been the best character since the show began and this season was no different, although it felt like he was in this season much less which I assume is due to Star Wars commitments. Ray was again awesome in this season and was given some of the best lines and speeches of anyone. The whole him being in love with Marnie thing is clever as well because the audience knows she isn’t good for him and has in the past only used him or her own selfish means but you can’t help but root for him to be successful, even if you don’t really want him to get what he desires. For me Elijah is consistently the funniest character of the show and his shit in Iowa and with Hannah’s dad was great. Every season he is only in like three or four episodes and they never waste his screen time. That’s the weirdest thing about Girls, it is meant to be about women but all the best written and most consistent characters are male, whereas in comparison the female characters are mainly all over the place and range from being poor to averagely written characters.

There were also a number of really good guest characters in this season of Girls, which isn’t really surprising because the show has always handled its guest characters very well. Mimi Rose added an unusual hipster sort of dynamic and Maron brought all his moustachioed wonder to a local council leader in a manner which you can more than believe that this guy has a few cats and chairs council meetings.

For those of you who like Girls you’ve probably not got this far because I’ve basically shat all over the show and to be more precise this season of the show (although seasons 2 and 3 were both pretty bad) but I’m about to be nice and compliment the show because I believe in using the compliment/criticism/compliment sandwich technique but as is with real life the best part of the sandwich is the middle and I always over fill (love me some tuna mayonnaise!). As much as I feel the general quality of Girls has gone downhill since season 1, the dialogue is still well written. I can believe that this is a real conversation two people are having and that for me is important in a television show. I also think that there were some really strong episodes in this season, especially towards the end of the season (episodes 8 and 9 were very good). Girls can be very funny when it wants to be, although too often it gets stuck up its own arse in that New York hipster fashion but that’s another story.

I think if I (or you for that matter) actually look at this review objectively I’ve said that the dialogue is good, it’s fairly funny, has some great characters and I like seeing female based comedies. All sounds good really…except for the fact that half of the main characters are deplorable, the other is bland and the general story arcs and direction of the show is horrific. I think that when you start writing a show you should have an idea of where you want the show to go in the end, yes you may change where you go in the middle but ultimately you have an idea of what the story arc and progression of the show will be, Girls has none of this. It is a bottomless empty pit that has no end in sight but is stuck so far up its own arse that it can’t see why others could criticise it. I think one of the best examples of how poorly written the show is would be how every single season ends with the cast having a life epiphany and looking like they are going to turn themselves around, only for the shit to have hit the fan by episode two of the next season. I think it is rather sad because Girls can be an incredibly clever and well written show but too often it falls into the same directionless path that it has for every single season. In many ways the first season to me sticks out as the crème de la crème of the series because it was original, but now the series has lost any originality it once had and has become a caricature of itself. Once it took a realistic modern day look at life for women in their mid-twenties trying to make it in life, now it’s just another generic show which we’ve seen dozens of times before.

I’m sure that Girls still has its fans out there and the general critical analysis of this season has been positive but I think one of the biggest criticisms you can give a show is that it lacks direction and Girls has about as much direction as Lost. I don’t need character growth to enjoy a show, what I need is well written characters who may have flaws but are likable, characters who I want to see go up on stage and launch a music career, make a go at it in Japan and get with the regular guy for once. I guess Girls is what it is and I’m probably being too harsh but you rank shows based off of what they could do sometimes and not what they’ve necessarily produced, and Girls has previously shown and even in this season has shown glimpses of what it can do, so when it slaps you in the face with mediocrity it has pretty hard to take.

Anyway leave a comment about what you thought about Girls season 4 and where you think the series will be heading when season 5 inevitably rolls around.

Plus the good news is that if you liked this post you can find more of my fine (?) work by checking out the blogs Facebook and Twitter or my blog itself at bm23tvreviews pages because why the fuck not.


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