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Courtesy of HBO

March 2, 2016

Girls’ Fifth Season Goes Off Like a Bomb

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The first episode of HBO’s Girls hotly anticipated season five is simply and ineptly named “Wedding Day.”  A more fitting title may instead be “The Abominable Bridesmaids,” or “Rain on Her Wedding Parade,”or even perhaps most accurately, “Lives of 20-Somethings Go Off Like Bombs in Slow Motion (at a Wedding).”

Girls has been a staple of quirky feminist television since 2012, drawing much of its plot line from writer Lena Dunham’s own life experiences. Few other shows offer such powerful statements on the modern female existence, incorporating key elements on issues of self-image, body shaming in the social media and hard-hitting takes on women’s rights to services such as abortion. Naturally, the show has drawn several points of controversy — namely regarding its ethnic representation. In The Independent, Catherine Scott critiques both the writers and characters in the show in a scathing review, “What’s there to celebrate for feminism when black, Hispanic or Asian women are totally written out of a series that’s supposedly set in one of the most diverse cities on earth? But also, what’s there to celebrate for feminism when a show depicts four entirely self-interested young women and a lead character having the most depressing, disempowered sexual relationships imaginable?”

At the end of season four last year, audiences were left with a number of dilemmas spawning from the four main characters’ hectic personal relationships. Hannah (Lena Dunham) said a tearful goodbye to her long-time boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver). Marnie’s (Allison Williams) man-child-turned-boyfriend Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) left her to perform solo. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) abandoned her New York City life in favor of a new one in Tokyo. Finally, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) toyed with the idea of finally relinquishing her usual free-spirited romping and committing to an actual career as a therapist.

I don’t know about everyone else, but 2015’s rapidly tied-up finale made me think that these “girls” were finally growing up. However, this premiere confirms that nothing has truly changed. While each character has gone through so much in the series’ five years — different boys, different jobs, different lives altogether — they behave as if the 42nd episode was actually the second.

Nonetheless, Girls proves that while there may be no substantial character development, there certainly can still be drama. What’s a TV wedding without it? Even the first few seconds of the season’s opening scene drags audiences into the emerging crises, when Marnie looks out the window in her skin-colored spanx and edgily remarks, “It’s going to rain.” Immediately following, viewers are then re-introduced to the wedding guests one after the other in rapid-fire fashion. We see hair dressers flitting about, the groom attempting to drown himself, stolen kisses between betrayed friends and even a little snippet of car sex.

Despite feeling bewildered, no one watching this first episode could possibly be unentertained. As this is the penultimate season of Girls, it’s quite possible the writers are trying to swiftly sort out Hannah and Marnie and the others for a top-tier 2017 finale by making the 30-minute episodes even more saturated with spectacle. It’s certainly arguable that a whirlwind first episode is a good way to jump-start a season. In another week, we’ll all be tuning in again.

Madeline Day is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at mzd4@cornell.edu.

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