TV Review: Girls‘ sixth & final season bows out with unexpected grace

Though it started on what seemed like uneven ground, the final season of HBOs Girls manages to not only pull the series strengths together and end on a high note but also manage to do so while remaining as imperfect and messy as it’s ever been.

Even if Lena Dunham’s voice is not “your” voice, there’s something admirable about the commitment to creative tone and sense of character that runs through Girls’ final season and guides the series to a graceful finish.

Overall, Season 6 feels like the most Hannah-centric season since Season 2. After all, this is still the Lena Dunham show we’re talking about. While Shoshana (Zosia Mamet), Adam (Adam Driver), Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) kind of fall to the side, the show bounces back towards the core relationships. Marnie (Allison Williams) edges towards epiphany while Elijah (Andrew Rannells) ends up torn between broadway and his friendship with Hannah.

While I stand by my earlier criticisms on the isolated and seemingly-unoriginal nature of the season’s opener (“All I Ever Wanted”), it’s the kind of episode that makes a lot more sense in retrospect. Context is everything. Rather than just another one of Hannah Horvath’s wacky one-off adventures, it’s now her last.

Hannah’s pregnancy calcifies the abstract long-term stakes of whether or not Hannah can “get it together” into a very real and unavoidable form. For a show always in danger of repeating itself (in the ways that all sitcoms do), it spices up the formula in just the right way. The reality that Hannah is going to become a mother doesn’t change who she is but is does signify an end to the phase of her life inhabited by the series.

Still, there’s a lot of variety running through the setlist of Season 6 – and that works in the show’s favor. With the exception of the disposable “Hostage Situation”, nothing outstays its welcome. Somehow, against the odds, Season 6 manages to neatly succeed in all three of its disparate goals: taking the series to genuinely new territory, delivering a satisfying conclusion and reminding audiences what drew them to the show in the first place.

Season 6 features superb and theatrical pieces like “American Bitch” as well as character-driven melodramas like the Elijah-focused “The Bounce”. Even episodes that are more messy, like the emotional-sprawl of the penultimate “Goodbye Tour”, manage to land here. The show’s leads are as flawed and bratty as ever, and, as always, it rarely ever feels like the dialogue or line delivery miss a beat.

There’s definitely something to be respected in a series that gracefully ends things on its own terms, and Girls checks all the boxes in its final run. Every creative choice feels deliberate and precise in a way that makes you think about and engage with the series and look back on it with a degree of nostalgia. Warts and all, Girls manages to sustain itself and remain compelling all the way to to the final set of credits.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Girls screens in Australia on Showcase.