A joyous freeze frame seems to indicate that one of television's most fickle characters has, at last, grown up. As Hannah left her successful Moth reading on Sunday's season finale of "Girls," her gumption returned. She'd quit her job, given Jessa and Adam her blessing, and reunited with an old frenemy who proved that even success doesn't promise happiness. So, like Mary Tyler Moore, Hannah tossed her (figurative) hat in the air, and the episode closed with a snapshot of pure contentment.
Something similar can be said for the other main "Girls" characters: A post-Japan Shoshanna found quick fulfillment by rebranding Ray's coffee shop as an anti-hipster haven, Marnie traded Desi's drivel for Ray's affections, Hannah's dad re-embraced his sexuality, Jessa and Adam ended their stormy fight with what was surely passionate makeup sex, and even Elijah and Hannah's mom found laughter in their messy predicaments. Everyone is moving forward, in keeping with the Season 5 tagline: "Finally piecing it together."
The Huffington Post had a brief phone call on Monday with "Girls" writer and co-showrunner Jenni Konner. The finale marked Konner's first time directing, but there was just so much Hannah business to discuss.
How does it feel to have the penultimate season of “Girls" behind you?
We had the table read for Season 6 today. We read four scripts. Everyone was there. It was very bittersweet and wonderful. It feels mixed. It feels really exciting, and storyteller-wise, it’s very satisfying. And also I can’t believe I don’t get to see these people next summer. It’s going to have to be on the set of “Star Wars,” if I want to see Adam Driver.
That seems like an easy pull, right?
Have you guys finished writing everything for the final season?
We’ve written a little more than half of it, but we know everything that’s coming.
You did something risky with Hannah at the end of this season in having her quit another job and leave another relationship. It's quintessential Hannah behavior, yet this time it feels like the most adult thing she’s done.
That’s the thing. The thing with Hannah is, if you start her off in a good relationship and a good job, what are the chances that’s going to work out great for her? She’s not a conventional person and doesn’t work well within the system in that way.
Weirdly, I think it’s set up where on paper her life looks so winning, but we can see that she’s not going to be happy in that life. It’s just this idea that she’s compromised in a way that she wasn’t comfortable with. I think when she actually breaks up with Fran and quits her job, that’s really Hannah getting her groove back. So, yeah, for any other character, quitting the job and breaking up with the boyfriend is not necessarily the beginning of the good stuff, but for Hannah it is.
Having Tally return was a big full-circle moment, too. We know her as the enviable classmate who rose to the top while everyone else floundered, but here she peels back the layers and we see not everything is sunny. That’s an important realization for Hannah.
First of all, one of the reasons we did that was just because we were dying to work with Jenny Slate again. She is so brilliant and talented, and we were just like, “We’ve gotta get more Jenny!” So there was that. But also, the importance of Tally’s thing was to remind Hannah that you can be a writer and not be able to write right now, and it doesn’t make you not a writer. As Tally was saying, “I just get up and Google myself everyday.” That’s all she’s able to do right now, but she still considers herself a writer, whereas Hannah took a step back and said, “I’m not a writer anymore.”
The ebbs and flows of Hannah’s relationship to her writing have been paramount. She wasn’t really writing when she first started dating Fran, and she was so happy with him -- but its absence also may have driven her away from him more than she realizes. It took a moment like the Moth reading to earn her that freeze-frame ending.
We have really felt that the thing with Hannah is that she is a writer and that’s how she spends her time, so when she tries to suppress it, things are going to come out in horrible ways and she’s going to make even worse choices than she did before. I think, for now, her deciding to write again is Hannah getting close to her truth and actually figuring out, “Oh, I can do this.” It sort of symbolizes that Hannah is going to grow up and be a grown woman.
One of the criticisms of “Girls” throughout its run is the fact that these people who don’t seem to like one another very much have remained friends. In Season 5, everyone very much had an individual thread happening. They weren't even in the same room much.
The thing is, weirdly, if you actually look at it, we never put them in a room together. Even in our first season, they didn’t all wind up in the same room until Episode 5. They’re actually not all together very much. I think the reason it felt really resonant this year is because they all started together at the wedding and you didn’t see them together again, and that somehow made it more intense. But yeah, getting older, it’s hard to have friends and it’s hard to have friends you don’t love. Shoshanna is the first one to call them all on their bullshit. She was really off doing her own thing, but I think they’re all still trying to figure out if they’re going to be friends their whole lives or if it’s just the convenience of college.
I have to ask about the episode with Marnie and Charlie. It may be the show's best.
Oh, my boyfriend directed that episode!
Give him my regards. How did it come together?
One thing was that I literally ran into Chris Abbott, and it was so good to see him. I just had such a nice time seeing him, and I was like, “I think that we’re all ready to make this cozy return.” That was one of the things that prompted this, but Lena [Dunham] just had this vision for it, just like she did with the Patrick Wilson “One Man’s Trash” episode. She wrote it in a fever dream overnight. Sometimes this thing just takes over her and she’ll just write something. She wrote that very quickly and passionately.
Once we knew Chris could do it, it just became this really fun idea that it takes place outside of the “Girls” world that we know. But it’s also a love affair in the New York we’ve never seen. We never see a romantic vision of the city very much, and this was such a romantic version.
So was Hannah riding back into the city and smiling about New York being a good place to start over. But to end Marnie’s episode with her climbing into bed with Hannah was another of several small full-circle moments in this season. That was the apartment they shared, and it was the site of the breakdown of their friendship. It was like Marnie returning home.
Yeah, we’ve always said they’re the primary love story of the show.
Before you go, tell me about Lisa Bonet. What a fantastic get.
I’m going to take full credit for this. The idea was fully mine, and everyone would agree with me. We were talking about this character, and I was like, “This should be Lisa Bonet.” And we found out that she was available and she agreed to do it, and she showed up and was the most beautiful person you’ve maybe ever seen in life. She smells better than anyone in the world, and she’s such a pro. She was essentially a child actor, and she just knows how to do everything. Everything she did was funny and great, and she was playful and sweet. It was just a real pleasure to work with her. I’ve admired her for so, so long.