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The series created, written, directed by and starring Lena Dunham became a global cultural phenomenon in its six-season run. On the surface, it’s about awkward, narcissistic, vulnerable, privileged college grad Hannah Horvath (Dunham) and her three equally self-obsessed friends Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Marnie (Alison Williams) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), and their struggles to live their best lives in New York City, without much of a clue how to go about it. Together, they go through break-ups, weddings, divorces, pregnancy scares, career highs and lows, and some pretty crazy drug-induced nights … and days. But as the seasons go by, the four of them start drifting apart, and this is something we don’t usually see on TV – the reality that we inevitably move away from most of the people we’re friends with in our twenties, especially when we start to realise that, actually, we might not like our friends all that much.
And when Jessa finally starts dating Adam (Adam Driver), the love of Hannah’s life, the girls have a full-blown fall-out. Will they ever be able to come back from it?
The full boxset of the series is now available on Showmax for you to binge from the very beginning right through to the gorgeous finale. If you’re a Girls virgin, now’s the time to find out what the fuss is about, and if you’re rewatching for the nostalgia factor, make sure to look out for these episodes, which, in our opinion, elevated Girls to its Peabody, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning-heights. Watch now »
6. Dancing on their own: Season 1, episode 3
For many of us, it was in this moment that we fell in love with Girls. Marnie and Hannah having a private dance party in Hannah’s room to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” is TV gold – it looks completely spontaneous, 100% real and like the most fun you could have with your BFF on a weeknight in the tiny New York apartment you share. The girls are giving it their all, and dancing like nobody’s watching. We almost feel guilty, like we’re spying on them – and the shot is framed deliberately to give us that exact feeling, with the girls framed in the open doorway of Hannah’s room. It’s a fitting way to end off an episode in which Hannah finds out she has HPV, and Jessa tells her not to worry about having an STD, because, as the title of the episode says, “Most adventurous women do.” Watch now »
5. Natalia: Season 2, episode 9
This is the episode where Hannah ends up in the emergency room after poking an ear bud too deep in her ear canal – something only Hannah at her most self-destructive could manage. But what we loved about this episode were the glimpses we got into the relationship between Adam, Hannah’s ex, and his new girlfriend Natalia (played by Shiri Appleby, who, shortly after this cameo, landed the lead in UnREAL, also on Showmax). It’s clear that Adam’s not totally happy with this new girl, and when he and Hannah run into each other accidentally, she finds out for the first time that he’s found someone new. It’s awkward and sad, until he hears that she’s on her way back from the hospital and shows genuine concern, in his typical expletive-heavy style, and we realise that maybe they’re not totally done with each other yet. Watch now »
4. Wedding Day: Season 5, episode 1
Marnie’s wedding to fellow muso Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) wasn’t the first one on the show (that dubious honour goes to Jessa, who marries Chris O’ Dowd’s Thomas-John at the end of Season 1 – needless to say, the marriage doesn’t last long), but it was the first to come with all the bells and whistles of a white wedding – including Bridezilla (whose make-up looks amazingly bad), unflattering bridesmaid’s dresses (the way Hannah ties hers, with her midriff showing, never fails to make us grin) and the groom’s cold feet. But what must be the most touching moment of the episode is when we see Ray (Alex Karpovsky), who’s secretly in love with Marnie, convincing Desi to follow through. We know that Marnie and Ray belong together, and probably all fell a little bit in love with him at that moment. Watch now »
3. Shoshanna’s rant: Season 3, episode 7
Of the four friends, Shoshanna probably gets the least screen time. She’s the youngest, and enters the group by virtue of being Jessa’s cousin. She’s still in college for most of the series, and is kookily naive. In this episode, the friends spend a long weekend at the beach house of a family friend – a much-needed time for them to reconnect and just have fun. But then they run into Elijah (Andrew Rannells), Hannah’s ex from college, and all his mates, and the trip ends in conflict. By the end of the episode, Shosh has had enough of being treated like “a cab driver” by her friends. We think this line could be Shoshanna’s best in the whole series: “I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting the people who would actually be right for me, instead of a bunch of f**king whiny nothings as friends.” Watch now »
2. Riz Ahmed: Season 6, episode 1
He won the Emmy for Outstanding Actor for his role as Naz in The Night Of (available on Showmax), and he was also nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor for his role as Hannah’s surf instructor in the Hamptons. She’s been sent there to write a story on surfing for a women’s magazine, and ends up having a whirlwind relationship with the charming, good-looking Paul-Louis. Ahmed’s role here couldn’t be more different from his role as naive murder-accused Naz in the night of, and we love seeing him as a laid-back dude in board shorts. He plays a, shall we say, seminal role in Hannah’s life (no spoilers here, don’t worry), even though she only spends a few days with him at the beginning of Season 6. Watch now »
1. Hannah grows up: Season 5, episode 7
We could also call this the episode where Hannah finds out about Jessa and Adam. Or, where she first has her suspicions about them confirmed. Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Ray go to see Adam in his new play. It’s unconventional, to say the least, and relies heavily on audience participation. This ends up creating a situation where Hannah is an apartment block across the street from the one Jessa’s in. Hannah catches sight of Jessa through the window. Jessa’s standing on the fire escape, staring and smiling at someone in Hannah’s building. Hannah looks over and sees that the person Jessa’s looking at is Adam. She’s watching him with an intensity that conveys immediately to Hannah – who, after all, knows Jessa better than pretty much anyone – that Jessa is in love with him. The framing of this moment of realisation is masterfully subtle and unusual and startling. Later, Hannah sees the two of them leaving together after the play, and knows she was right. But she doesn’t make a scene or freak out (well, not in front of Jessa or Adam) – and that tells us immediately that she’s grown up. Watch now »
Cover image: HBO
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