Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Sunday series finale of HBO's Girls.
She named the baby Grover.
Choosing to use the name suggested by her son's out-of-the-picture, surfing-instructor father, Paul-Louis (Riz Ahmed), wasn't the only surprise Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) sprang in the series finale of HBO's Girls. Because who could have imagined, six season ago, that a series about an underemployed twentysomething living in Brooklyn would end in a picture-perfect house upstate with an episode largely devoted to the challenges of breast-feeding?
And though the finale, "Latching," contained many of the things we've come to expect from Girls, including its creator and star's frequent, unsalacious nudity, and more than one shouted argument, it did end in a good place, and in a moment that left Hannah, for once, speechless, as her breast-refusing son finally latched on.
Few shows get better in their sixth season, but Girls did, as its characters grew -- or in some cases were pulled, kicking and screaming -- into a semblance of adulthood that, even in the context of a show about extended adolescence, had seemed long delayed.
Oh, some characters' life changes required more suspension of disbelief than others -- none more so than Hannah's. Unplanned pregnancy? Sure. Landing, unsolicited, a college teaching job with health insurance on the strength of online essays? Bit more of a stretch. That the job hadn't even begun by the series' end but had somehow afforded her a fully furnished house? That's the comedy part.
More realistic: the episode earlier this season in which Hannah had a too-close encounter with a writer (Matthew Rhys, The Americans) she'd pilloried online. That one captured something very particular not only about the way sexual predators operate but about the insecurities that can make women vulnerable to them.
And any lingering perception that this was just another show celebrating female friendship was put to rest in the April 9 episode, as the Girls quartet -- Hannah, Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) -- crowded into a bathroom to have it out one last time.
The strength of the friendships on Girls seemed to be measured by the individuals' willingness to show up for one another, repeatedly, in situations where their help often went unappreciated. The show didn't paint as pretty a picture as the Cosmo-fueled fantasy that was Sex and the City, but it was at least honest about the transitory nature of some relationships.
So it was a good moment on Sunday when Hannah's mother, Loreen (Becky Ann Baker), offered Marnie, who'd moved in to help with Grover, the advice that it might be better for the friendship if she didn't forgo her own happiness in favor of Hannah's.
Another lesson, this one for Hannah, came through her encounter with a scantily clad high school girl (to whom, naturally, she gave her pants) whose personal emergency turned out to be a fight with her mother. Over homework.
Even without her pants, Hannah channeled a newfound power in that moment as she pledged her allegiance to Team Mom.
Her state of undress, though, made it Girls. Because the first thing I learned about the show was that I shouldn't watch it on an airplane.
In January 2012, facing a five-hour flight to Los Angeles, I opened my laptop and popped in a screener DVD for a show that wouldn't premiere for a few months. And for three eye-opening episodes, I raised and lowered the screen at least a dozen times, because of content that was not safe for work from an aisle seat in coach.
Let's just say costar Adam Driver had a memorable debut.
Back on the ground, I was intrigued, writing that Dunham had made "an honest and at least occasionally hilarious show that might even live up to its hype."
The hype, though, was a lot. Too much for a show as specific as this one, but probably inevitable for its pedigree: Dunham, just shy of 26 when the show premiered, had already made her own film, Tiny Furniture, and was working on Girls with Judd Apatow.
Girls was polarizing from the start, and it didn't help that Hannah's asserting herself as "the voice of a generation" sounded to some like Dunham saying it.
Hannah, it turns out, is a character, and one who, like a lot of people, is a little bit broken. Sunday's finale didn't fix her. But it did give reason to hope that she, and Grover, will be OK.