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Girls: Finale Sadness

June 18, 2012 — 7 Comments

I’m not sure what the production of Girls was like, but I have to imagine the episodes were written mostly in sequence. I say this because the season quite remarkably got better as it went. Now, I still think the best episode was ‘The Return’ from right around the middle of the series, but in terms of the series’ arcs, it really did find a footing over time. When the show first premiered there were a lot of online discussions as to what Girls was actually about. Was it supposed to be some New Age feminist tract, or a representation of the modern young female? Was it just a new version of Sex and the City, or was Lena Dunham trying to do something completely different? By the end of the finale, none of these things are true (though in a way they all are). Girls, instead, is a show about its characters, plain and simple. It goes where the characters need to go, and where that is is anyone’s guess.

The season finale also confirmed the tone Dunham has crafted. Very much influenced by producer Judd Apatow, the series takes wild swings at small emotional moments. This isn’t Mad Men, where a single shot can be filled with meaning and mystery and allusion. But it is the kind of show where a shot of a girl sitting alone on a beach eating a slice of wedding can breathe emotion and wisdom. It’s also the kind of show where ending a season on such a shot, sad as it is, feels completely appropriate and satisfying. Click to read more.

If there’s anything that last night’s episode of Girls proved, it’s that Judd Apatow‘s true home is television. The writer/producer/director is famous for The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but his roots are in programs like The Ben Stiller Show, The Larry Sanders Show and Freaks and Geeks. Now, I love what Apatow has been exploring with film. He’s made some great movies himself, and though they’re flawed, films like Funny People are remarkably honest comedies. Girls, the show created by Lena Dunham, is Apatow’s first foray into TV since Undeclared in 2001. While Lena Dunham is clearly the creative mastermind behind the show, one look back at Tiny Furniture reveals a slightly different sensibility at work in her newest venture.

The most recent episode, ‘The Return’, makes it obvious that the Apatow style has bled into Dunham’s work. First of all, the episode lists Apatow as a co-writer, which is signal enough, but that also shines a light on Apatow’s influence as a producer on the rest of the series. While I did enjoy Tiny Furniture a good deal, it suffered from an overriding air of melancholy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it made the film feel like it was taking itself ever so slightly too seriously. Judd Apatow’s work has always had hints of melancholy, yet he always balanced that out with goofiness to bring out honesty in his characters instead of depressing self-indulgence. This is what he brings to Girls and it’s reminded me how much I’d love to see him make TV his focus again. Click to read more.