The appropriate response to Girls, a television show about two African-American boys from Harlem who live with a white Park Avenue millionaire and his sassy but wise housekeeper, is to lock down parliament and unilaterally gut the presidency. But today is Lester Flatt's birthday, and Girls is over Girls is over Girls is over, so here's your last recap.
The only take on Girls that matters is Mick Jagger's, who sang in 1978 (one year before Lesley Arfin was born):
White girls they're pretty funny
Sometimes they drive me mad
Black girls just wanna get fucked all night
I just don't have that much jam
We open with Brian Williams' daughter moving out of the apartment she had shared with Laurie Simmons' daughter. The angry woodworking boyfriend is helping, negotiating a chair and a mattress down a flight of stairs.
Laurie Simmons' daughter is worried about what will happen to Brian Williams' daughter. Where will she live? "You don't have a plan," Laurie Simmons' daughter says.
"I think maybe that's a good thing for me," Brian Williams' daughter says, NOT AS UPTIGHTLY AS USUAL. Has a life-lesson been learned? A life-lesson has been learned.
Standing in her half-empty apartment, her best friend having abandoned her, Laurie Simmons' daughter ponders her future. The angry woodworking boyfriend says, "Maybe I'll move in." A smile crosses Laurie Simmons' daughter's face. She kisses him.
Brian Williams' daughter moves in with David Mamet's daughter. Where is the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter? She has disappeared. David Mamet's daughter invites Brian Williams' daughter to take her place.
Laurie Simmons' daughter goes to her shift at "Grumpy," or Cafe Grumpy, the coolest of Williamsburg coffee houses often populated by the coolest of Williamsburg cats. She pretends to be sick and asks Ray, her boss, if she can leave early. She thinks maybe she drank some bad Mylanta?
"Hmmm," Ray says. "Expired Mylanta. You don't want to drink that."
But Laurie Simmons' daughter is not sick. She did not drink expired Mylanta. She has received a text from the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter reading: "Please come to the most important party of my life 7 p.m. sharp. Dress real nice and come." She wants to leave early to get ready. But Ray got the same text. Embarrassing!
"Use your head," he tells her. "We're in the same friendship circle."
"I just thought—"
"Don't just think," he says. "That's an extremely unattractive feature of your generation." See how she does it?
Ray tells her to go home and get ready for the mystery event.
We are at the mystery event. There stands Brian Williams' daughter. Something is different. Her hair? Yes. Her hair. It's...kinky? Curly? Permed? Wavy? Do her newly coiled strands serve as an outward signifier of her newfound NON-UPTIGHTNESS? Yes, they do.
The angry woodworking actor arrives, dapper in a plaid blazer. "You look very beautiful," he says to Laurie Simmons' daughter. He doesn't seem as angry as he once did.
A jackass, played by one of the lesser Saturday Night Live players, takes the stage. What a jackass this guys is! He telegraphs jackassery, and welcomes everyone to the "mystery party."
Out step the Drummer from Bad Company's Daughter and the Williamsburg douchebag that tried to have a threesome with the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter and Brian Williams' daughter two episodes ago. When we last saw the Williamsburg douchebag, the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter was disgusted by his douchiness and he was calling the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter a "stupid little daddy's girl with [a] fucking bowler hat." There has been literally no interaction, either directly portrayed or narrated in exposition, between their characters since that moment.
And now they are getting married!
Let the record reflect that the television program Girls, which is "like nothing else on TV," and which has at long last brought the previously buried perspectives of 23- to 28-year-old females to bear on mass culture, has bravely broken yet another taboo by choosing to set its season finale at a surprise wedding. Nothing has ever been like that, on TV.
Surprise weddings, by the way, are sure to become a trend among Generation Facebook after Mark Zuckerberg, the generation's founder, recently blazed the trail.
The Drummer from Bad Company's daughter and the douchebag exchange vows. They explain that they used to not like each other. But then, the douchebag says, "I thought to myself that if i ever saw that crazy bitch again, I would make her my fucking wife."
angry woodworking actor almost starts crying. "People finding each other, taking shelter," he says. "I'm very moved."
A song begins playing. It's called "Yankin'", by Lady. The refrain is, "Ain't gotta tell me / I know this pussy be yankin'." Everyone begins dancing, horribly. Their hands arrayed flatly, in karate chop mode, held in the air. They glance down and to the right, tucking in their chins.
In the bathroom, the Drummer from Bad Company's daughter and Laurie Simmons' daughter are talking. "Like, do you feel like a real adult now?" Laurie Simmons' daughter asks.
Time for the first dance! To some electronic bleep-bloops.
Laurie Simmons' daughter runs into her gay ex-boyfriend Elijah. He admits that he gave her genital human papillomavirus. This means that the
angry woodworking actor, whom Laurie Simmons' daughter had previously accused of transmitting the disease to her, did not in fact transmit the disease and had been falsely accused. Laurie Simmons' daughter does not seem to reflect on this.
"Let's just consider it water under my vagina," she says. Then she learns that Elijah is living in a single-room occupancy hotel with "murderers and, like, junkies, and girls who huff." She offers to let him take over Brian Williams' daughter's room in her apartment.
Laurie Simmons' daughter and the
angry woodworking actor are dancing. He tells her that he is "in it for the long haul."
"So, you don't have to worry," she says.
"About moving in," she says. "Because I found someone."
Uh oh. The
angry woodworking actor wanted to move in. Laurie Simmons' daughter says she thought he was just being gallant, and trying to help.
"Help?" he says. "I don't want to help. No one does anything because they want to help. I was doing it because I love you. Why do you look so surprised?" Maybe because for most of this season you've been portrayed as a narcissistic condom-faking asshole.
angry woodworking actor walks out of the wedding. He doesn't want to make a scene.
The jackass is back, announcing the cake-cutting. "It's cakey-time," he says. Jackass.
"Cakey time!" says Brian Williams' daughter. "Is it just me or is he adorable?" Then she empties a flute of champagne. She seems...loose! These life-lessons are fast-acting.
Laurie Simmons' daughter goes to find the
angry woodworking actor. She brings him some cake, wrapped in foil.
"You love yourself so much," he says. "So why is it so crazy that someone else should too?"
"I do not love myself," she says.
"You're the fucking worst, you know that? Because you think you're not pretty, and you're not a good writer and you're not a good friend. Well, you are pretty, and you are a good writer and you are a good friend." Wait I thought she loved herself. Wait why are you complimenting her?
"I'm scared, OK? I'm really scared all the time. I'm like very scared, all the time."
"Join the club."
"No. Because I'm more scared than most people are when they that they're scared. I'm like the most the most scared person alive."
They carry on like this. I can think of some people who are more scared than Laurie Simmons' daughter.
Then the angry woodworking actor crosses the street. Then he crosses back. Then he stands in the middle of the street and says "I'm just a beautiful mystery to you." Then he gets hit by a car. Yep.
The car doesn't stop.
Back inside the wedding, Brian Williams' daughter, her newly kinked hair falling about her cleavage, is talking to the jackass. They are eating cake. She grabs a handful of cake and begins eating, which is like the LEAST UPTIGHT thing a woman in her situation could do. She starts making out with jackass.
Somewhere else David Mamet's daughter and Ray have sex.
Back on the street, the angry woodworking actor, who is conscious, is getting loaded into an ambulance. Laurie Simmons' daughter tries to get in with him, but he refuses. "Don't let her in here," he tells the EMTs. "She's a monster."
Laurie Simmons' daughter hops on the subway. She takes the F, and falls asleep. When she wakes up, her purse is gone. She doesn't seem to mind. She walks onto the elevated subway platform and looks around. It is late at night, or early in the morning. A group of kids is partying on an adjacent rooftop. "Where am I?" Laurie Simmons' daughter asks them. All New York City subway platforms have markings indicating the name of the stop. Laurie Simmons' daughter doesn't consult these markings. The partying kids don't say.
She's in Coney Island, the terminus of the F. She walks to the beach and sits down. She eats wedding cake.
For those keeping score at home: All major characters on the television program Girls enacted a full character-development cycle over the course of its first season, path-breakingly. The Drummer from Bad Company's daughter began as a wild-child, a homewrecker unburdened by societal norms. She ended as a newlywed starting her own home with a venture capitalist. David Mamet's daughter began as a virgin. She ended as a sex-having person. Brian Williams' daughter began the show as OH MY GOD SHE WAS SO UPTIGHT. Then she was going to get MANFULLY FUCKED BY BROOKS JONATHAN HEY WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT GUY? Then in a Hitchcockian twist she ended up getting MANFULLY FUCKED by a jackass instead but anyway the point is she is no longer uptight. The angry woodworking actor began as an angry woodworking actor but then he was kind of an angry woodworking conceptual artist but he was definitely a self-involved, uncaring dick but then he became a Manic Pixie Dream Guy and then just in the last episode he was a lovelorn romantic.
And Laurie Simmons' daughter. She began as an unemployed, lovelorn romantic. But finally she gets what she wants, and she spurns it, because she is the most scared person on the planet. Isn't that the way? That is the way. Generation Spurn. Also she got a job at "Grumpy."
So what have we learned here, kids? What is the message, finally? That all television shows are stupid, and that television is not art, and to relentlessly valorize a 26-year-old show-runner with tattoos of scenes from children's books as the voice of a new generation is foolhardy and empty? That youth is callow, and navel-gazing, and small-minded? That wrapping your persona in layer after layer of defensive irony and self-deprecation does not absolve you of the responsibility to be interested in something outside of yourself? That an awareness of your flaws is not a defense?
"But," you will say. "You don't get it. The show is a satire. A gentle satire, but a satire. The flaws are the point."
"And yet you celebrate her as an auteur," I will say. "The 'artist' and the character are virtually identical, and you valorize the artist for skewering the character. Besides, she's not skewering the character. These people are meant to be loved, to be understood and explained. It's a celebration, not a satire."
"Do you apply the same standard to Woody Allen?" you will say. "Is his filmic self meant to be loved or is he a comic foil? Is he the hero or the butt of the joke, or both?"
"Laurie Simmons' daughter is no Woody Allen," I will say.
"Stop calling her that," you will say. "Why do you insist on calling her that? Do you really think a feminist artist who works with dolls can call up HBO and get her daughter a gig? The TV business is rife with nepotism. Why single her out?"
"You misunderstand me," I will say. "I don't think she got a TV show because of her mother. But I think that the concerns of the wealthy private school girls ought to be dismissed as a matter of course and not be taken seriously. There are enough people who take them seriously; for largely tribal reasons I don't want to be among them. Especially if they surround themselves with their well-bred peers. I think that we should fight to rob the Laurie Simmons' daughters and David Mamet's daughters' and Brian Williams' daughters' and Drummer from Bad Company's daughters' of this world of the opportunities they have been unjustly awarded. Or at least highlight the injustice."
"Oh bullshit," you will say. "Ian McKaye's father was an editor at the Washington Post. Marginal Man's Kenny Inouye was the son of a senator. Bullshit."
"They were making something good and worthwhile," I will say. "Something that mortified and angered their parents, or at least their parents' peers. Not working for a giant corporation and smiling from magazine spreads while enacting a pantomime of 'indie-ness'."
"Do you want to know what I think?" you will say.
"No," I will say.
"Then I'll tell you," you will say. "I think that in time the Lena Dunhams are going to conquer the western hemisphere. Of course it wont be quite in our time and of course as they spread toward the poles they will bleach out again like the rabbits and the birds do, so they wont show up so sharp against the snow. But it will still be Lena Dunham; and so in a few thousand years, I who regard you will also have sprung from the loins of celebrated feminist artists. Now I want you to tell me just one thing more. Why do you hate Girls?"
"I don't hate it," I will say, quickly, at once, immediately; "I don't hate it," I will say. I don't hate it, I will think, panting in the cold air, the dank Gawker dimness: I don't. I don't! I don't hate it! I don't hate it!
There will be no more recaps of Girls.
Last week's Girls recap: 'That's When I Reach for My Revolver'
A counterpoint from Rich Juzwiak: Now That We've Seen Everything: A Girls Reappraisal
Image by Jim Cooke