Meet Hannah Horvath who hears the three words every unemployed twenty-something funded by their parents is dreading: “No More Money”. Played by writer, director, producer – and all-round genius – Lena Dunham, Hannah follows up that revelation by accidentally quitting her year-long unpaid internship after announcing she can no longer afford to live without a salary.
So unemployed and penniless she pays a call to her casual boyfriend, Adam – always shirtless, occasionally employed and all-too-willing to strip Hannah down to her shabby underwear. “You should never be anyone’s slave except mine,” he declares. Eww. Cue the first of many uncomfortable sex scenes that characterises Dunham’s Girls…
Adam is not too popular amongst Hafnnah’s nearest and dearest. Best friend and flatmate Marnie Michaels – aka the perfect best friend you’re permanently jealous of – is all too quick to declare her disapproval of Hannah’s latest squeeze. But Marnie has issues of her own as she compares the touch of her loving college boyfriend Charlie with “a weird uncle”. Meanwhile Hannah and Marnie’s college pal Jessa, all hipster with her long, flowing hair, rocks up to stay with her neurotic American cousin Shoshanna, before informing Marnie in her dodgy Anglo-American accent that she’s pregnant. Uh-oh, not ideal for a free-spirited traveller like Jessa.
Meanwhile, Hannah continues to make well-informed, sensible decisions and recovers from her current financial crisis by downing a cup of opium tea before slumping unconscious on the floor of her parents’ hotel room in the middle of literally begging them for money.
And so it begins… Hannah spends the entirety of series one attempting to realise her long-held dreams of launching a writing career. After a series of misjudged interviews (N.B. never make a date rape joke with a future employer), she ends up at a law firm office where she is routinely felt up by her ageing employer, Rich. But continuing in the vein of her lifelong misguided decisions, his touch-feely advances lead Hannah to the unlikely decision of offering him sex on the desk in his office. When he turns her down, her attempts to bargain for financial compensation fail and she storms out of the office, announcing her resignation for “sexual reasons”, leaving her unemployed once again.
While Hannah launches her quest for a job, Shoshanna reveals her “biggest baggage” of all – she’s a virgin. Yes, unlike its Manhattan-based predecessor Sex and the City, the Girls of Brooklyn aren’t all casually sleeping their way through the male population of New York City. Shoshanna spends much of the series chattering away nineteen-to-the-dozen, but when she’s not, she’s on a mission to get laid.
But it’s not until her “crackcident” (or crack-accident) at a rave in a Bushwick warehouse that Shoshanna meets the man to “deflower her”. Ray, best friend of Marnie’s boyfriend Charlie, loyally takes care of Shosh after she mistakes a “glass cigarette” of crack for pot – and in the meantime falls in love…
But as one unlikely pair come together, another long-term couple grows apart and upon reading in Hannah’s diary that Marnie is sick of his “smothering love”, a heartbroken Charlie duly ditches his glossy girlfriend during a gig for his band – the unfortunately-named Questionable Goods. Furious Marnie retaliates by dumping her drink on Hannah and determines to win him back. There’s just one problem: she has no idea where he lives having never been to his apartment.
After tracking down his surprisingly deluxe abode, it doesn’t take long for Marnie to convince foppish Charlie to give the relationship another go – but, sure enough, his painstaking devotion soon engulfs her once again and she breaks up with him once and for all.
Meanwhile, bohemian Jessa soon realises her purported pregnancy was a false alarm and lands herself a job nannying the two bratty children of filmmaker Katherine and unemployed layabout Jeff. But Jeff takes a shining to Jess one evening over a shared love of pot and after a few flirtatious evenings together he trails her to a party and receives a beating at the hands of a group of punks. During their subsequent trip to hospital he makes an unsuccessful move on his young babysitter, signalling the end of Jessa’s burdgeoning career in childcare. No shame there.
And talking of dysfunctional relationships, Hannah’s fling with Adam stalls when she finds out he’s been seeing a string of other girls – a revelation that duly lands her in the STI clinic to get tested. Despite her dedicated adherance to using condoms, an unlucky Hannah is handed the news that she has HPV, a disease she immediately attributes to her unfaithful on-off, always topless boyfriend. His insistent denial leads Hannah to a new train of thought – her college partner, Elijah.
Kitted out in an oddball tartan get-up, Hannah confronts her slick-haired, camper-than-camp former boyfriend (the real culprit) who rebuffs her accusation before informing her he is gay, an “exploration very much inspired by you.” So, in the space of one episode Hannah is landed with an STI, a gay ex-boyfriend and an allusion to her manly physique. Carrie Bradshaw she is not.
But following a brief night of passion with the shaggy-haired pharmacist in her home-town in Michigan, Hannah finally breaks through Adam’s emotional barrier (after discovering he’s a recovering alcoholic) and lands herself a boyfriend, albeit one with an anger management issue and a penchant for peeing in the shower.
Meanwhile a dishevelled Marnie is single for the first time since college and therefore in crisis – and that’s before she encounters Charlie and his new, irritatingly bouncy girlfriend a mere two weeks after their weepy break-up. In Hannah’s absence she forms an unlikely alliance with Jessa and the pair head to a bar where they encounter Chris O’Dowd in the guise of uptight venture capitalist, Thomas-John. When the trio head back to his apartment, a normally straight-laced Marnie shares a girl-on-girl snog with her pal and the pair make a hasty getaway.
But if you thought that was the last of Thomas-John, you thought wrong as the final episode sees Jessa surprise her friends with a shock wedding. And the groom? None other than Chris O’Dowd himself. Jess proves what a spontaneous soul she truly is and weds a man she barely knows in front of her baffled nearest and dearest.
But the evening’s drama doesn’t end there. Hannah’s search for a roommate, following Marnie’s decision to clear out of their shared digs, leads her reformed boyfriend Adam to put himself forward for the role. Hannah – in her usual blundering style – mistakes his earnest offer for pity and offers a room to her ex, Elijah (yes, the one who gave her HPV…). Things go from bad to worse when she fails to reciprocate Adam’s declaration of love, and he breaks off their relationship, storms out into the street – and gets hit by a truck.
And that’s where we left things: Hannah – single once again and stranded on a beach in Coney Island after falling asleep on the Metro while her boyfriend was sped to hospital, Marnie – also single and ready to mingle, albeit most recently with the podgy minister at Jessa’s nuptuals, Shoshanna – uptight as ever but finally “deflowered” by loveable Ray, and Jessa – newlywed to a man she barely knows and ready to embark on challenges new. Bring on series two…