GIRLS: Sunday 10PM on HBO
As HBO’s GIRLS begins its 6th and final season, it somehow feels older than it actually is. That’s the way it is with television now: the revolutionary can become the familiar in a blink. It had already felt, with the arrival of half-hours like Atlanta, Better Things and Insecure, that the comedy cycle of unrelenting narcissism was coming to an end, and current events are pushing that mindset even further into the past. Even a show like You’re The Worst, whose characters pride themselves on their self-involvement, has been exploring the boundaries of its own form.
Girls, on the other hand, seems very much the same as we last saw it. Tonight’s season premiere, written by co-showrunners Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, and directed by Dunham, concentrated mostly on endlessly aspiring writer Hannah (Dunham), who’d had a success with a NY Times “Modern Love” column about her ex Adam (Adam Driver) becoming a couple with her old friend Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and who parlayed that into a paying gig to write about a weekend at a women’s surf camp. Hannah being Hannah, she barely touched the water or interacted with any of the other guests before faking an injury and heading for her personal cocoon, although her self-reverie was livened up by the mellow attentions of one of the surf instructors (man of the moment Riz Ahmed). Hannah tried to give herself over to the pleasures of the moment, and for fleeting moments she did, but in the end she just prefers not to be tickled.
The other leads were given less to do. Adam and Jessa seem to be insufferably happy at the moment, while Marnie (Allison Williams), while technically divorcing Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), is still entwined with him, and at the urging of her online therapist, she’s essentially thrown Ray (Alex Karpovsky) out of her apartment despite their seeming contentment as a couple. This quickly leads to his moving in with his own ex Shoshannah (Zosia Mamet), with whom he’s instantly way too comfortable for Marnie’s taste.
Girls isn’t out to change anybody’s minds about itself in this final season. Those who can’t bear the company of Hannah and her friends will still feel that way, while those who find their entitlements amusing will garner some laughs. The show’s high-end indie feel is polished, and as usual Dunham and Konner make good use of their guest stars (in addition to Ahmed, Chelsea Peretti shows up as Hannah’s new editor). We’ll find out over the next 9 weeks whether Girls is going to seek a destination for its protagonists, or leave them in mid-air–and if it can find some way, after all this time, to surprise us as it once did.