GIRLS Season 5 [Blu-Review]

Girls has always been about a group of young women, progressing in their lives. Slowly and dysfunctionally, but gradually progressing. After four seasons, there was something of an established pattern for the show, in terms of the characters behavior, the fraught connections within and outside the group, friction building, waiting to blow up and set the seasons narrative off for them to reconnect once again. While Season 5 does little to break the structure of the show, it does offer the most compelling evidence yet that these characters are making progress, coupled with more of the same incisive writing and painful comedy from creator/star Lena Dunham.

Girls Season 5 Synopsis
As Season 5 begins, Hannah (Lena Dunham) has put her writing ambitions aside and is teaching alongside Fran (Jake Lacy), her new boyfriend. Marnie (Allison Williams) realizes that she needs more space after her honeymoon with Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). While working towards becoming a therapist, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) also manages a budding relationship. And Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) is thriving at her new job in Japan, flirting with her boss despite her long-distance relationship with Scott (Jason Ritter). Honest and uproarious, with unexpected surprise turns, the fifth season of Girls promises to maintain the series’ place as one of the most talked-about shows on television.

There’s an old adage “chickens coming home to roost”. It’s a sentiment that embodies this penultimate season of HBO’s Girls. So often, these characters, through their own selfish obliviousness, have carried on regardless, self importance shielding them from the fallout of their words and actions. Season 5 feels like they’re finally facing up to the consequences. The gulf between what these people believe they deserve and what they actually get, well mined to comedic effect in season’s past, is narrowing. Problems they have, or create are being dealt with or perhaps even just acknowledged, even that is progress in some instances. Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath, a character verging on being a sociopath at times, is perhaps the best evidence of this. Sure she still exposes kids to emotional trauma to make a point to her boyfriend, but her petulance of seasons past in regards to her parents, is now matched by a growing tolerance and care. It’s makes her father Tad’s (Peter Scolari) arc about admitting his homosexuality all the more resonant. Each of the four main cast members shows some aspects of growth and change, you may have to look hard at times but it’s there and it’s rather refreshing.

Of course the show wouldn’t be right without showcasing the flailing messes that are these girl’s lives. Hannah’s issues with relationships continues, this time with a less antagonistic foil in Fran. More of a traditional “nice guy” than Adam Driver’s character, her narcissism and selfishness manages to tear apart whatever she tries to build. We get to roll our eyes at Marnie’s marital endeavors with human dumpster fire Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), while an additional love triangle between Hannah, Adam and Jessa kicks off some of the bigger fireworks of the year. As a counter, it’s refreshing to see Elijah (Andrew Rannells) gets a relationship/pairing that pushes him further as a person out of his more caricaturist depiction. Much hilarity stems from catching up with Shosh’s life in Japan via wonderfully quirky work from Zosia Mamet, although the depictions for Japanese culture are misjudged (more on that later).

You’ll know by now whether Dunham’s work is for you, if it is, season 5 of Girls is one of the strongest yet, if not, there’s little to convince you otherwise. It’s still a show centralized on four rather privileged white women. Aspects of this season do little to embrace diversity, indeed some of the Japanese set portions actually embrace stereotypes that might be an intentional nod to one of the shows weaknesses, but is handled such that it only serves to worsen them. But as a show written by a white woman about white women, it’s smart and incisive stuff. It’s also refreshing in how it puts them more in charce of their problems and solutions, the male element being peripheral, but often a voice of reason in the mix. Season 5 shows the crew to be more evolved, infused with a little more warmth. Some might say the show is losing a little bit of it’s edge, but it’s a natural reflection of a growing maturity.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Inside the Episodes: A short interview accompanies each episode. This is something of a tradition for the Girls home video releases, reflecting on the episode and how it fits into the overall arcs of the season.
  • Deleted and extended scenes: This includes: Episode 1 – Elijah & Evie, Episode 2 – Ray Yells in the Street and Parents are Humans, Episode 8 – Shosh Zones Out, Where’s Caroline? and Hannah & Hector, Episode 10 – Garden of Surgery and Tad & Keith. Sadly no introduction is given for their trimming or exclusion, some are more obvious as to their reasons but a
  • Digital Download Code included.

 

Girls is as entertaining and incisive as ever and with the progression of the characters, a little bit of it’s edge is replaced by a sense of satisfaction. You still have these characters and their deluded perceptions of themselves and reality, just tempered with a little more heart and wisdom. Overall, it’s more of the same, but if that’s your bag you’ll find plenty to appreciate here. With sharp, detailed visuals and a host of extras, it’s another solid release from HBO.

Girls Season 5 is available January 3rd, 2017 on Blu-ray™ & DVD from HBO Home Entertainment

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the author

Originally harkening from the British Isles, Jon was exiled to Texas back in 2007 to help conceal his identity as a love child of the Queen. Jon has both embraced and been embraced by the wonderful city of Austin, a place which has only further enhanced his interest in film. A regular at SXSW and Fantastic Fest, Jon is also a member of the Austin Film Critics Association and Online Film Critics Society. By day he is a researcher at UT Austin but he also has an involvement with (and deep appreciation for) the local brewing industry. In short, his passions are cinema, science, craft beer and writing about himself in the third person. Twitter: @Texas_Jon