Girls: “All I Ever Wanted” Season 6 Premiere Review

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Girls has made the point “All I Ever Wanted” makes before. “One Man’s Trash,” arguably the show’s best episode, puts Hannah into an unexpected fantasy of life and love. It showcases very traditional desires. A beautiful apartment. A good looking partner who’s well off and chill about it. Not having to work. Where “One Man’s Trash” puts forward generally agreeable wishes for oneself, “All I Ever Wanted” is much more specific to Hannah and how she’s grown since that season two achievement. It’s also much more realistic.

After writing a guest column for The New York Times, Hannah gets a new writing position at a magazine, with her first assignment being to trek out to Long Island, attend a surf camp, and write an article about how much she hated it. It’s a perfect gig for Hannah, who’s talent has always exceeded her drive. Of course, the irony she didn’t realize would come to fruition is that she really does hate surf camp, and not even in a way she thinks can be churned into a funny article.

That is until she starts to get to know her surf instructor, Paul-Louis (the ever-charming Riz Ahmed). Classifying this new potential love interest as a hippie is both accurate and a disservice. He spends all his time traveling and teaching tourists how to surf, while taking time to party with the locals and just take in the beach. He has enough chill for two people, and one of them is Hannah, the closest to being a monster a 25 year-old Brooklynite can be. But as Hannah spends more time with this new flame, she realizes that he provides something she’s looking for. Commenting that all her friends are defined by what they dislike, Hannah is enamored with a soul so willing to love and go with the flow.

Unlike the moment in “One Man’s Trash” where Hannah breaks down and admits that she does in fact want the cozy, happy life that everyone else wants, Hannah’s discovery of happiness with Paul-Louis feels like it can potentially push her in her search. We get the great moment after we learn he’s in an open relationship where Hannah takes a few moments to feel upset, as she already seems to be making plans for the future, as small as they may be, with this guy she just met. She finally rolls over and decides not to let it ruin the genuine fun she had. This is a powerful moment for Hannah, who’s perpetually thinking about what’s next rather than what’s happening right in front of her. She might not have a future with Paul-Louis, but now she knows a little bit more about what makes her happy and what she might be looking for. That look she gives in the final shot, as her happiness fleets and she remembers this is temporary, perfectly shows us where Hannah hopes to go. With Girls ending in just nine episodes, there’s no time like the present.

But while Hannah’s arc over these final episodes takes shape, the rest of the characters are quite the jumbled mess. Case in point: Marnie. Now in a full-fledged relationship with Ray, but still in the process of divorcing Desi, Marnie seems to have regressed from the rays of enlightenment she gained in last season’s seminal “The Panic in Central Park.” Incapable of receiving Ray’s love, she falls for a genuinely lovely moment between her and Desi. So she sleeps with him. We saw what Marnie wants last season, and we thought she saw it in herself too. But, like Hannah’s brief surf-camp romance, it’s fleeting.

Then there’s Jessa and Adam, who seem to be completely fine after their big blowout fight in season five’s finale. Girls hasn’t been able to consistently define all of its core characters at once since season one. They got very close toward the end of season five, which I hoped would carry over into this season. But it appears to have not. The show has nine more chances to really turn its legacy around. For Hannah, “All I Ever Wanted” is a great start. For the rest, not so much. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • The opening was great. Jessa refusing to read Hannah’s column. Ray editing it with a red pen. Hannah’s parents looking on with pride. Marnie celebrating her best friend. Nice direction here from Lena Dunham.
  • Ray and Shoshanna really worked well together in season two, so if Marnie is about to go down another rabbit hole of self destruction, maybe they can get back together? It’s fine if they don’t too. Their plutonic friendship has plenty of rewards all on its own.
  • And look at Shoshanna reading the news and getting informed!
  • “I’m going to fuck my way to the middle!”

By Matt Dougherty

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