The Lesson That Hannah & Marnie's Terrible Friendship Can Teach Every 'Girls' Fan

If you’ve watched the Girls finale, your reaction may have been like much of Twitter’s: “WTF?” The claustrophobic dynamic between the show’s two key brunettes stressed just how unhealthy Hannah and Marnie’s friendship had become. Still, arguably, watching the show was a learning experience; if you apply what you see to your own life, it’s not just an entertaining half hour of television. “Latching” also functions as a guide on how to have happier, healthier friendships.

The final episode was unexpected, because, over the course of the last two seasons, Hannah and Marnie have started to enjoy a healthier dynamic and found their groove when it comes to what they want to do with their lives. Hannah has realized that she can be a writer, if not of novels, then of confessional Internet essays, while the once-directionless woman who defined herself by her boyfriends discovered that she wasn’t just a competent musician, but one talented enough to — for a while — make a living out of it.

While there’s been far less shared screen time between the two characters thanks to their taking their career choices seriously, when we do see the best friends together, they seem more tolerant of each other’s sharp edges. But it’s important that this no longer seems to be the case in the final episode.

Mark Schafer/HBO

When the episode opens on a chilling situation — Marnie having broken into Hannah’s apartment to sleep next to her — we know shouldn’t really be surprised. After all, the yoga addict has always reacted to adversity in the same way throughout the series: looking to those around her, whether boyfriends or friends, to give her a sense that she’s special and important. So, while her offer to come with the expectant mother and raise her baby with her seems philanthropic, as we’re reminded by the fact that she’s sleeping on her mom’s couch, she doesn’t have much else going on. This is Marnie making something that has nothing to do with her all about her.

The fact that, just months into them raising the child together, the once inseparable pair can’t stand each other is unsurprising. We get to see what happens when that intense, early 20s idea of friendship (of doing everything together, of sacrificing your own time to help your BFF with her stuff) is applied to motherhood — and it’s the darkest possible timeline.

Marnie being around has only made Hannah aware of her own inadequacies as a mother, since Marnie seems mysteriously and naturally talented with babies. While, in giving her best friend everything, the former musician is expected to continue to sacrifice her own happiness for the foreseeable future; she’s not allowed to sing in the car or go out at night without Hannah.

Mark Schafer/HBO

The country house setting also invites us to compare and contrast with the last time the pair went off on an adventure together. In “Hostage Situation,” our protagonist gets dragged on a weekend escape to Poughkeepsie with Marnie and Desi. But, despite the living quarters, Hannah gets her space; we see her working upstairs on a laptop, while her two roomies make love and war downstairs. When Desi turns out to be a drug addict and is kicked out of the house, we see just how powerful the two women can be as a team.

While the parts of the episode where Marnie’s bandmate attempts to break back into the house are shot like a slasher film, the usual gender politics of the genre are upturned. Neither of the two women in this part are victims; instead, they’re the victors. Their time apart hasn't harmed their dynamic. It's just made them both more confident in themselves, subsequently, as a team, completely unstoppable.

Mark Schafer/HBO

It’s a good lesson for us all: taking separate life paths don’t mean isolating yourself from your friend, but instead can strengthen a friendship. That whole immediate post-college, let’s be BFFs forever thing? Not so sustainable when adult life — promotions, working longer hours, serious relationships, babies, forced moves to a different city — get in the way. We've seen all sorts of adult obstacles get in the way of the Girls group this season, from fiancés to new relationships with old boyfriends to travel to career opportunities. But that doesn’t have to be sad.

As Hannah and Marnie’s trajectory on the show has demonstrated, sometimes spending time apart as friends is really for the better. And, when despite all that time apart, you and your friend are still rock solid, you know that your friendship isn't based purely on mutual circumstances but on a genuine, lasting connection with someone else. What could be more special than that?