It is almost time to say goodbye to Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna for good, but before they go, Lena Dunham shared an Instagram post that serves as a reminder of the feminist legacy Girls will leave behind. When it premiered in 2012, Girls was met with a mix of acclaim and derision. Dunham's landmark show arrived at a time when prestige TV's obsession with male antiheroes was at an all time high. The moment the first episode aired, Girls challenged what women could do, say, and be on TV, and for many viewers it felt revolutionary.
While the show's look at an almost exclusively white, privileged landscape of New York millennials made it a far from perfect feminist series, it opened the gate for more diverse, equally unique women to find a home on TV. It is hard to imagine a world where Broad City, You're the Worst, or Insecure's heroes would be able to be as unapologetically imperfect as they are if Hannah Horvath had never eaten cake naked in a bathtub while bemoaning her lack of a thriving, insta-career as a writer post-college.
Girls made TV a safe place for women who had no fraks to give about what people thought about them or their life choices. For that reason, it deserves to be celebrated, flaws and all. That is exactly what the vandalized photo Dunham shared of the Season 6 poster does. Presumably the poster was reclaimed by an anonymous fan who marked out slurs about Marnie, Shoshanna, and Hannah, and replaced them with positives the characters embody.
Dunham captioned the image:
The image is proof of two things: the world still wants to label women, but Girls fans have absorbed the show's positive messages, and are unafraid to apply them in real life situations. Far too often, the show's characters are reduced to stereotypes by naysayers, but the truth is, the women of Girls broke television ground with their warts and all depiction of female friendship. Hannah is sex positive, Shoshanna is wonderfully kind, and, even though she gets the brunt of the internet hate, Marnie is a beautiful young woman trying to find her place in the world.
Whoever originally graffitied the poster with slurs is clearly someone determined to box women in, but Girls fans simply won't stand for that kind of nonsense. Hannah Horvath may not be "the voice of a generation," but over the course of six seasons she did introduce a generation to an image of modern feminism that will endure. The show has left its mark on the world as surely as the good Samaritan Sharpie-wielder reclaimed the Season 6 poster in the name of positivity, feminism, and amazing TV.