TV Review: Girls Season 5 (USA, 2016)

Season 5 of Girls sees the show take more risks than ever before and, when all is said and done, it feels like the show comes out a little more mature – as do its characters.

Season 5 picks up a few months after 4, with Hannah (Lena Dunham) having moved on from her relationship with Adam (Adam Driver) and now in a more-healthy partnership with her co-worker Fram (Jake Lacey). Meanwhile Shoshana (Zosia Mamet) has relocated to Japan, Marnie (Allison Williams) encounters trouble in her musical and marital partnership with Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) pursues her dream of becoming a therapist.

Though Hannah’s problems often remain the center of the show’s universe, the show continues to do a great job of showing that these characters have lives outside of their friendship with her. Perhaps more importantly, it feels like the status-quo of everyone on Girls is actually changing for the better.

In some ways, Season 5 is about their understanding of where the different figures in their lives sit – and what happens when that understanding catches up with reality.

Ever since Season 3’s groundbreaking “Beach House”, this series has moved towards episodes that work as self-contained vignettes rather than chunks of a serialized arcs and Season 5 sees that continue. No less than half the season takes on a more experimental structure, from the close-quarters confrontations of Marnie’s wedding to the colorful adventures of Shoshana in Japan.

There’s a lot of variety here and it’s hard not to be impressed by how much effort goes into the production values of these detours. The direction and editing of the series remains immaculately crisp and there are some wonderfully inspired musical queues throughout.

Five seasons in and Girls feels more dynamic than ever. It makes you laugh, cringe, cry, smile, think and wonder where how things will shake out when the series ends next year. Season 5 feels like a show that’s rediscovered the best version of itself, and one that you’ll be happy to invest your time and emotional energy into.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)