Why series 5 of Girls is the most relatable yet

As Marnie gets hitched, Lena Dunham's show encapsulates a new phase of mid-twenties anxiety with plenty of comedy — and even more pain

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There’s that time in everyone’s life, when their friends slowly but surely start getting married. However cool, unconventional or modern you are, when that first wedding gets announced, you’ll feel all kinds of things you probably didn’t expect. There you were, trundling along through life like a young person — and then BAM!, your friend is old enough to vow in public that they’ll commit to someone forever. It’s head-spinning stuff.

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And that strangeness, joy and anxiety is encapsulated so perfectly in the first episode of Girls series five, as Marnie (Allison Williams) gets hitched to Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), that I joyfully watched it four times in one day. 

Weddings are a brilliant source of tension (in TV, films, and less wonderfully, in real life too) and as Marnie gets ready to become a wife, the level of dysfunction is deliciously high. Beautiful and staggeringly un-self-aware, she’s passive aggressive enough on an ordinary day, let alone her wedding day. Her attempt to achieve a “Joni Mitchell-style” bridal look with a “nod to my heritage, which is white, Christian woman” is very funny as she ends up looking like she’s fallen asleep in a melted makeup palette.

But the episode is also a hilarious and touching comment on how weddings can make people go a little loopy. Marnie, while obsessing about her floral crown is clearly riddled with doubt about marrying Desi, while Hannah, who is being particularly unhelpful, later admits she’s just panicking at her friend getting hitched. These are new feelings to navigate in their more mature, seemingly more functional lives.   

What’s really great about the show at this stage is that, while the group was unequivocally lost before, all the signifiers of adulthood are now there. Marriage, proper jobs, ordinary relationships. Hannah has a normal-seeming boyfriend and hasn’t (yet?) been sacked, Jessa is attending her AA meetings and is being quite responsible, Shoshanna is working in Tokyo where she fits in perfectly. And even recovering sex addict Adam is functioning fine.

But of course, just because they seem to be doing alright, doesn’t mean their lives are sorted. And that’s why it’s actually more relatable than previous seasons — because, just as in the lives of real people in their mid-twenties with relationships, careers and friends, the difficulties are more subtle, the problems harder to pinpoint than before.

The group, like many of my friends, are worrying whether they’re actually with the right person, what sort of life they’re really choosing, panicking about whether they’ve followed the right career path. There are new pressures as they realise it’s only going to get harder to shake things up. 

It’ll be a sad day when Girls ends, as it will do after its sixth series, because Hannah and her friends would be hugely entertaining companions through more of life’s milestones (fingers crossed we at least get to see the comedy gold that would result from Marnie having a baby…)

But if Lena Dunham’s show stays this great throughout series five and six, it’ll be bowing out on a serious high, as it so deserves to. For now, though, this bunch of New Yorkers have plenty more growing pains to experience first… 

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Girls starts at 10:45pm on Sky Atlantic on Monday 22nd February