It was May of 2012, and I’d just moved into my first apartment in Manhattan after graduating college when my roommate sat me down on the couch and forced me to watch the first four episodes of Girls. “The first and second episodes will speak to you,” I remember her saying. “I swear — it’s like they’re following you around.”
And she was right. I’d had multiple discussions with my friends about who “the ladies” were. I had an irrational fear of getting pregnant or contracting an STI in college, which would lead me to obsessively Google scary scenarios à la Hannah in episode two. But the thing that stood out the most to me was the character of Adam, played by Adam Driver, and Hannah’s clingy, awkward, are-they-or-aren’t-they relationship with him.
Over the course of six seasons, Adam has come to represent the awful fuckboy I used to cling to in my early twenties. The arc of his character — and Hannah’s place in said arc — so closely followed the journey of my own love life that it was sometimes hard to distinguish between the two. It was almost painful the way I related to it. Having only been two years younger than the fictional Hannah at the beginning of the series, the way she handled her interactions with Adam was like looking in a really sad, depressing mirror.
Upon that first viewing, I realized that, during my senior year of college, I dated a version of season one Adam — a narcissistic guy I’ll call Luca* who had warped relationship views and a penchant for over-the-top dirty talk. He wasn’t a woodworker, but he was an artist and actor who would talk about his “craft” for hours on end. Like Adam, he was pretty clear with me about the type of relationship he was interested in — one that was very casual and not headed toward anything serious. But, like Hannah, I didn’t listen to Luca, and instead found myself barreling toward a romantic relationship. I even called him my boyfriend to my dental hygienist.
Needless to say, Luca and I didn’t make it past the one-month mark. And when Hannah spent the second season away from Adam dating lots of other dudes, I was unwittingly following suit. I’d finished college, and I was swiping around on dating apps and making out with a colorful cast of characters: a whiskey distiller who worked the midnight shift out of the old post office in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, an Australian bartender who never flushed the toilet when he peed, and the token older guy with a good job who would buy me expensive martinis.
The tagline of the final season of the show is “Finally piecing it together,” and I feel like that’s the mindspace I’m occupying at the moment.
But Hannah and Adam eventually found each other again. (After she gave herself an ill-advised haircut, just like yours truly.) And similarly, I found myself in the arms of yet another Adam archetype. Thankfully, this was season three, and Ron* was my actual boyfriend. But he had his own set of hangups, just like season three Adam. He didn’t like my friends all that much, and wasn’t afraid to tell me so. And when I got a new job with a big raise and began to spend my money freely, he took issue, which led to our mini-breakup. He wasn’t my boyfriend, but we were still kind of seeing each other, in the same way Hannah was kind of seeing Adam when she went to Iowa. One day, I came home to see him, and he told me he’d been sleeping with another girl — hello, Mimi Rose Howard. So while I didn’t hole up in our shared apartment, things did end with Ron in an explosive fashion.
As the seasons have progressed, I’ve seen a bit less of myself in the Hannah and Adam relationship dynamic. My best friend hasn’t had sex with an ex of mine. I’m not currently expecting the love child of a water ski instructor. But the last chapter of Girls does feels monumental to me in a way. And as Hannah grew up and away from Adam, I started picking off the fuckboys one by one.
In the last scene they share together, Adam and Hannah are attempting to imagine a future together in which he will help her raise a baby that isn’t his. Without saying a word, they both break down crying, realizing that they just can’t make it work. A wide valley of experiences lies between the two of them, and it’s one that Hannah knows she just can’t cross again. She has to move forward, and she can’t do that without bidding the problematic love of her past adieu.
And for the last time (for this show, at least), my TV screen felt eerily similar to a mirror. I too had to do some introspective searching and recognize that I couldn’t move forward without cutting the toxic dudes of my past loose. And while I’m nowhere near perfect, I’m figuring it out as I go along. The tagline of the final season of Girls is “Finally piecing it together,” and I feel like that’s the mindspace I’m occupying at the moment: I’m learning to take things slow, attempting to be more communicative, and recognizing my worth as an individual outside of a relationship. It’s the end of an era for both me and my favorite TV show, and I’m pretty stoked to see what’s on next.
* Names have been changed.
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