Breakups are tough, but the realization that a friendship has run its course is a special and particularly bittersweet kind — even just to watch. As the series finale looms, Girls separated the core four female friends, forcing the fictional women we'd watch develop for six years to struggle with the biggest growing pain of them all. This breakup was heartbreaking but, as Girls chose to show in "The Goodbye Tour," it also gave these young women a new kind of freedom. For fans dedicated or casual, the idea that the dissolution of a friendship can be both heartbreaking but freeing may be one of the greatest lessons the show will ever teach us.
Girls has always valued realism in all its forms. For the better, the worse, and the super awkward, we watched as the young women at the core of the show have borne the slings and arrows of young adulthood. Breakups have been part of that equation, too, but giving some space for Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa to come together in a tiny bathroom to hash out their issues — and, as Shoshanna puts it, "call it quits" — was as instructive to viewers as it was relatable.
Even after all the times they've shared — the strange yet cathartic bonding weekend at the beach house or the gang gathering for Marnie's strange wedding, for example — by the time Season 6 rolled around, it was obvious that the kind of maturing they had to do individually would potentially pull them apart. Hannah was preparing for her son; Marnie was getting her act together on her own; Jessa was going to school, then dropping out of school, and then realizing she needed to get her act together before she could help anyone else; and Shoshanna had to break away from the disruptive influence of the other girls in order to create the fulfilling life she had hoped for since Season 1.
Preparing for that breakup, even when they may not have known it was coming, was step one in Girls opening up to us about why friendship can sometimes be a fleeting, beautiful thing.
Step two was getting hit with Shoshanna's honesty bomb in the bathroom. Even while Hannah was still processing the truth in the living room, it was clear that this breakup was really going to happen. With that realization came the feeling that this might actually be the right thing to do — at least, that was how I felt. As painful as it was to see these young women part ways, it was even more painful to see them pretending to be friends when they had been slowly drifting apart and not prioritizing these relationships all season. Even if it was slight, you could almost see the weight lifting off of each of the women as Shoshanna explained why she was done. That feeling, that newfound freedom in breaking up, left them all literally dancing on their own, happy and carefree.
Shoshanna calling it quits may have been so real for some of us because we've been in that situation, or at least wondered whether a friendship has indeed run its course. Whatever your experience, the reason this moment is so powerful and beautiful is because it's a deeply realistic outcome in life that makes the act of creating new friendships and maintaining old ones such a profound human experience.
Consider this: You most likely have close friends, regular friends, casual acquaintances, people you admire from a distance, and so on until you get to total strangers. How many of those close friends have you had for years? What about those casual acquaintances? Growing apart from someone you call a friend can be a hard notion to accept, but recognizing that a friendship may have totally withered on the vine is even harder. And Girls has shown us that friendship is tough, it's a process, and it's beautiful whether it lasts forever or for a little while.
The fact that these women were friends and did actually enjoy each other's company will never be erased by their breakup. That's part of the beauty of this situation. Sure, they're all free to go forward on their own paths, but they are undoubtedly changed — arguably, for the better — from their friendships with one another. As Hannah prepares for her baby, Marnie learns to be alone, Jessa reckons with her issues, and Shoshanna climbs up the professional ladder, it's becoming clearer and clearer that these four women came together at a time when they needed to lean on one another to get their bearings on adulthood after college. Now, yes, that time is done, but their respective positive growth from those friendships is still being reaped.
It's not a happy ending, per se, to see these women go off on their own paths, but it is true and it is realistic. And, in the glow of this important lesson, all I can say is that I hope that none of us will ever be locked in a claustrophobically small bathroom at a friend's engagement party and blindsided with some truly dramatic news.