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Series / Girls

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So many girls in here, where do I begin? note 

"I think I might be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice of a generation."

An HBO comedy-drama series about a Four-Girl Ensemble living and loving in New York City. No, not that one. Nor the other one.

Created, co-produced,note  and written by (and starring) Lena Dunham, Girls follows the lives of four young women transitioning into full-blown adulthood. The show ran for six seasons from 2012 to 2017.

The titular girls are:

  • Hannah Horvath (Dunham), The Leader of the group and a recent college graduate who, after being cut off financially by her parents, gets fired from her interning job for demanding full-time employment from her boss. She finds employment as a writer.
  • Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams), Hannah's best friend and art gallery assistant. A bit of an Ice Queen, she's in a long-term relationship with a loving boyfriend, but finds herself bored with him. She settles on a career in music.
  • Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke), a drifting, Bohemian Brit who returns to New York after a bit of traveling around. She has a reputation for being unpredictable and flaky.
  • Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet), Jessa's American cousin. An excitable ingenue, Shoshanna is extremely insecure about being a virgin, and despite having the most ambition and goals of the girls, she has the least clear idea of what she wants from her life.

Supporting characters include Adam Sackler (Adam Driver), an awkward carpenter and actor; Ray Plochansky (Alex Karpovsky), manager of a coffee shop and about ten years older than the rest of the cast; Elijah Krantz (Andrew Rannells), whose Last Het Romance was with Hannah; and Tad and Loreen Horvath (Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker), Hannah's long-suffering parents. Cast Calculus being what it is, basically every character except Hannah's parents has had a flirtation with at least two of the girls. (Yes, even Elijah.)

The tone of Girls is difficult to encapsulate, engendering a polarizing response. It relies on Cringe Comedy and tongue-in-cheek humor, portraying its characters as immature, flawed and often deeply selfish—Designated Heroes, in short, who may be lovable but are not necessarily likable. The show also catches flak for being almost comically hipster-ish, privileged, white, and New York-centric.

The show won several Golden Globes and Emmys, as well as a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for Dunham — the first time a woman has ever won that award.

This show provides examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Despite having a real, passionate relationship and seemingly being an Official Couple, Adam gets a new girlfriend and moves her into his apartment within a month of Hannah leaving for Iowa. It didn't help that the two of them agreed to have only sporadic contact, and Jessa manipulated him into a new relationship for her own benefit.
  • Adult Child: All the girls have some shades of this, but Hannah is the biggest offender. All of them more or less grow up by the final episode, though.
  • Alliterative Name: The four girls all have them.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Both Hannah and Jessa have flings with women, but it's unclear whether they're actually bisexual.
    • Elijah also counts.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Shoshanna often gets criticism for trying to improve her life and getting a great career as something of an obsession with image and short-sightedness, such as Jessa deriding her "15-year plan" as Jessa herself only lives day to day. The series itself isn't as critical, however, and Shoshanna ends up in the best position out of all of them, with a loving fiance, good job and lots of caring friends.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Downplayed. Getting pregnant doesn't change Hannah that much at first, and she gets a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech flatly telling her that she'll be a terrible mother. However, the pregnancy does end up being a driving force in her finally growing up, and the final scene shows that her son is someone she can finally, unequivocally put above herself.
  • Badass Boast: Booth Jonathan delivers one when hitting on Marnie, informing her that he's going to have sex with her at some point and might scare her when he does, because "I'm a man, and I know how to do things." Subverted, because though they do hook up eventually, it turns out he's not nearly the Sex God he implies he is.
  • Basement Dweller: Hannah was this until the show's pilot. Having given up looking for work after only one failed job interview, she runs back to her parents demanding continued payments for her rent and food which only makes them laugh, then lose their temper.
  • The Beard: Maybe. Hannah dated Elijah for two years in college, but it's not clear whether he was knowingly using her to hide his sexuality or still figuring it out himself at the time.
  • Best Years of Your Life: One of the key things about the show is how it deliberately subverts the recently popularized notion that early-mid 20's are this. Lena Dunham directly mentions this in one of her episode commentaries on the Season One DVD set. Hannah's parents (especially her mother) appear to hold this view in The Pilot. This is later shown to be not the case, as throughout the series, they prove to be surprisingly in tune to what she's going through.
  • Beach Episode: "Beach House," appropriately enough. Hannah even spends the whole episode in a green bikini.
  • Binge Montage: The opening to "Role-Play." It quickly leads to Hannah throwing up all over herself and one of her work friends has to take her home and clean her up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The girls start drifting apart, which ends up permanent in the final episode. Shoshanna moves on with her life after cutting ties with the rest of the group. Hannah and Jessa reconcile enough to respectfully decide to end their friendship, and Hannah moves upstate with a steady job and preparing for her new baby, and though she and Marnie reconcile, things will never be back to the way they were, but Hannah has more or less grown up and finally put someone else above herself. The second-to-last episode, considered by many to be the real "ending" of the show and the leads, ends with the girls spending one final happy moment together as they dance the night away, before Hannah moves away and prepares for the next stage in her life.
  • Black Republican: In Season 2, the white, liberal Hannah ends up in a brief relationship with Sandy (Donald Glover), and she can't quite handle their contrasting worldviews even though they expose her own shortcomings in dealing with others.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • In "Close-Up", Mimi-Rose blithely reveals to Adam that she aborted a pregnancy by him the day before. She asks him if he had wanted a child, and he says "Maybe." She points out that they have only been living together for seven weeks, which doesn't seem like a long enough time to have made that decision together. He responds that his parents got married after only having known each other for a week, however.
    • "American Bitch" is initially set up this way, a tense, episode-long back-and-forth between Hannah and an author she had admired. Hannah's right in that there was an inherent power imbalance between Chuck and his fans and the dangers that come with speaking out, but she concedes to Chuck's point of the dangers of ruining a person with encounters that were consensual, especially by someone like Hannah who was not involved, uninterested in the other side and unaware of all the details. Though this is all turned on its head at the end, when Hannah, who had felt in control and assertive during the confrontation, ends up touching his penis, with Chuck downright delighted that he tricked her into doing it so easily.
  • Broken Aesop: After being involved in a semi-adulterous situation, Jessa is told "You're doing it to distract yourself from becoming the person you're supposed to be." Jessa plunges into commitment by marrying Thomas-John, a guy she's barely known and who had one cameo on the show until their wedding. Because nothing says committed like a Vegas style wedding.
  • Brutal Honesty: After a devastated Hannah holes herself up in her bedroom after learning Adam has a new girlfriend he's moved into their old apartment, Marnie finally arrives.
    Marnie: I know that, and it's fucking hard, but did you really think you and Adam were gonna be a forever couple?
    Hannah: I would've liked the chance to find out.
    Marnie: I think you have your answer.
  • But We Used a Condom!: Hannah: "But what about the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms?"
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Jessa visits her dad in "Video Games."
  • Career Versus Man: Shoshanna's boyfriend doesn't want her to move to Japan for a new job, and though she considers declining the offer, Hermie convinces her to go her own way and pursue her own career. She also chooses to stay in Japan after getting fired rather than returning to her boyfriend, though that's also due in part to her finding a new love interest while in Tokyo.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: Jessa's actions in "What Will We Do This Time About Adam?" mirror her actions in the first season's "Vagina Panic," smoking and going to a bar to hook up with a random stranger in the bathroom. Whereas the first time was casually lighthearted and a show of her free-spirited attitude, the latter is much more lonely and painful to watch as she breaks down into tears, sickened and lonely from Adam briefly leaving her to rekindle his relationship with Hannah, proving to her that she's second-best, but still wants and needs him.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show gets significantly darker and more dramatic in the second season, dealing with Ray and Shoshanna's relationship degrading, Hannah's stress over her book deal that leads to a nightmarish OCD breakdown, and the reveal of Jessa's unhappy family life.
  • Character Development:
    • Hannah starts the series as a self-centered Adult Child obsessed with New York City and unable to hold down a job that didn't excite her, take responsibility or put anyone above herself, continually getting wrapped up in toxic relationships. By the final season, she realizes that New York has caused her nothing but misery, ends things permanently with Adam when she realizes it's over between them, gets closure with her old friendships, accepts a regular job teaching in a boring area and finally becomes an adult in order to provide for her child.
    • Marnie starts the series as an uptight Control Freak but a loyal friend, and the only one of the friends to have a steady job and relationship. She ends the series a broke, jobless, homeless divorcee coming to terms that tying herself to Hannah isn't going to help her find herself. Humbled after spending a lot of the series as a selfish Jerkass who thought only of herself, she to seek her own path after Hannah's mother gives her advice.
    • Jessa starts the series a flighty, flaky, narcissistic bohemian unable to hold a job and proud of her toxic presence in relationships. By the end of the series, she comes to terms with her toxic and manipulative behavior and gets seriously humbled by realizing that she's Adam's second choice, but accepting it because she loves him. She also puts her dream of being a therapist on hold because she needs to get her shit together first, a stark contrast to her earlier narcissistic pride in herself, and retires her flighty ways to enjoy a regular, domestic life with Adam.
    • Shoshanna starts the series naive, insecure, and extremely ambitious, and spends most of the show getting dumped on by the other characters and sabotaging her own career and relationships. She ends the series the most focused and successful of the girls, engaged and living the life of her dreams after finally figuring out her path, and she's strong enough to end things with the others on her own terms, calling them out on their toxicity and selfishness.
    • For a non-Girl example, Ray gets his shit together after Shoshanna calls him out for being someone she can't like or respect because of his personality and goals. He goes from being a single Jerkass who lives out of his car and stays uninvolved with his community to being a successful manager at the coffee shop following its rebranding with Shoshanna's help, he successfully runs for the community board, and he ends up in a happy relationship with Shoshanna's old boss.
  • Chubby Chaser: Hannah accuses her co-worker, Joe, of behaving this way in the midst of her scathing speech to her co-workers and boss at GQ and then quits. Given that his attitude toward her was nothing out of the ordinary for a coworker trying to help another, though, it's unlikely it was actually true.
    Hannah: Joe, what do you want from me? Does it, like, make you feel good to have a chubby girl paying attention to you? I am not the right conquest.
    Joe: What?
  • Convenient Miscarriage: An inversion; Jessa has her period on the day of a scheduled abortion.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The warehouse rave in "Welcome to Bushwick."
  • Covers Always Lie: The Season 1 HBO poster (as shown above) does not depict Hannah as she usually appears on the show, especially regarding her hair makeover. She is also digitally altered to look thin in the poster, when on the show she's obese.
  • Cringe Comedy: Marnie's singing in "On All Fours." She doesn't have an awful voice, but the song choice coupled with the awkward dancing makes the whole thing both hilarious and hard to watch.
    • A good portion of the sex scenes fall here, since one or both participants will find a way to make it extremely awkward.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Japan" focuses almost entirely on the oft-forgotten Shoshanna, while "The Panic in Central Park" only features Marnie.
  • Deconstruction: An absolutely scathing one of both Sex and the City and romantic comedies in general, mostly with a touch of realism. In particular, we have the following:
    • The characters for the most part look like above average, yet normal people. Adam for example has the physique of someone who works out consistently, but not that of a movie star with a person trainer. Hannah is not unattractive, but definitely does not have a perfect figure.
    • Obsession with oneself has incredibly harmful effects on friendships and relationships in general, and cause many recurring characters to actually despise the protagonists.
    • Everyone Has Lots of Sex, though it's easier to count the number of times people have good sex.
    • Several arcs and motivations are kicked off because people can't afford their lifestyles. This is played straighter as the series goes on, with many of the characters having no problem finding jobs whenever the plot demands, many of which still couldn't support their rent.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Shoshanna breaks up with Ray when she realizes that Opposites Attract can't work out when the people in the relationship have fundamentally different temperaments and values.
  • Delayed Diagnosis: Hannah is diagnosed with OCD in Season 2 after having a prolonged breakdown over the whole season. However, there were subtle hints that she was mentally ill before that; in Season 1, during their huge fight, Marnie reveals that Hannah masturbated compulsively as a teenager to "stave off diseases of the mind and body."
  • Descent into Addiction: In the pilot episode when Hannah's parents announce they're cutting her off, Hannah complains that in her opinion it's unfair she be forced into unemployment and homelessness like a drug addict. After her parents do cut her off, Hannah gives in to drinking opium tea to cope with depression. She even tries asking her parents for more money again while being high on opium.
  • Deus ex Machina: Hannah's fate in the final season. She ends up getting interviewed for and accepting a cushy job as a professor upstate despite only having a bachelor's degree, apparently good writing and some spotty freelancing experience, with the department completely unconcerned with her lack of relevant experience, education or her advanced pregnancy (which has disqualified many real women looking for work). Real-life writers immediately lambasted the arc, pointing to the high unemployment rate for academics and the unfortunate trend of unpaid work, even for someone with years of experience and a graduate degree, arguing that it would be unlikely for Hannah to qualify for the job at all, much less receive benefits or make enough money to afford a house and support a family considering her relatively light course load.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Despite one last-ditch effort to reconnect with original Love Interest Adam, Hannah realizes it's truly over and moves to upstate New York alone.
  • Discriminate and Switch: When Hannah goes by to pick up her father's wallet from a guy he met online and the man claimed nothing sexual happened, Hannah says "Well, I can't trust you people" and states she doesn't mean gay men but white men over 50.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: In Season 5's "Homeward Bound", Ray drives his coffee van all the way upstate after Hannah breaks up with Fran at the beginningnote  of their summer road trip, to take her back to Brooklyn, noting that this is costing him a lot of money. Shortly after they get underway, Hannah takes it upon herself to give him a blowjob while he's driving as a way of thanking him, even though he suggests she doesn't have to, and when he tries to put his hand on her head tells him not to as that's a "trigger" for her.note . This distraction naturally makes him crash the van and roll it over at the side of the roadnote  where, to add insult to injury, Hannah taunts Ray about him not getting aroused and then hitches a ride home while ... it's Played for Laughs.
  • Downer Beginning: Up for interpretation. The series begins with Hannah's parents cutting her off citing she's 24 and she has a college education (albeit as an English major, so she has no technical or computer skills). Though we later see that Hannah is lazy, arrogant and irresponsible so her unemployment and loss of parental support is entirely karma.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Marnie and Charlie end season two finally getting back together after a season of Will They or Won't They?, but season three opens with him having abandoned her offscreen, without a word.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe, Hannah gets this reaction after making a joke implying that the guy conducting her job interview is a date rapist. Needless to say, she isn't hired.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • After spending much of the series being dumped on by characters and the plot alike, Shoshanna ends the series with a fiance, good job, and plenty of nice new friends. Though she uses all of these things to coldly suggest that the group permanently disband, as their dynamic has been destructive and toxic.
    • Hannah in the final scene of the show with her baby latching on to breastfeed. The look on her face makes it clear that she's finally, unequivocally put someone above herself.
  • Either/Or Title: "Welcome to Bushwick, aka the Crackcident."
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Though mostly not good sex.
  • Expy: The Girls easily have their own Sex and the City counterparts, all while acting as Deconstructions; Hannah (Carrie), Marnie (Miranda), Jessa (Samantha), and Shoshanna (Charlotte). Hilariously, Shoshanna views herself as being mostly Carrie but with Samantha elements.
  • Fan Disservice: This show has LOTS of sex scenes. Most of them, far from being titillating, are squirm-inducingly awkward, and/or hilarious.
  • Fat and Skinny: Hannah is fat, Marnie is skinny. Even Shoshanna and Jessa have nice, slim bodies, it's only Hannah who has a weight problem because of her binging on high-calorie foods.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: The leads begin to drift apart as the series wears on, especially after Jessa begins a relationship with Adam, which devastates Hannah, and Shoshanna comes to terms with how toxic their friendships are. At the end of the final season, Jessa and Hannah reconcile enough to mutually end their friendship and Shoshanna ends things with the group after a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Marnie follow Hannah upstate to her new job, but Loreen convinces her to chase her own dreams so that she won't resent Hannah.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: See above.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Jessa (Sanguine), Hannah (Choleric), Marnie (Melancholic), Shoshanna (Phlegmatic).
  • Fourth-Date Marriage:
    • Jessa and Thomas-John the venture capitalist, in the first season finale. A definite deconstruction, since it doesn't end well.
    • Implied with Shoshanna and Byron, the former stating at the engagement party that it hasn't been long since they got together, with the relationship not developing onscreen. It's portrayed as being at least somewhat more optimistic than the above marriage, with the latter a Nice Guy.
    • Adam notes that his parents got married after only a week together.
  • Friends with Benefits: Hannah and Adam have this type of arrangement at the beginning of the first season. Possibly a deconstruction as their relationship later gets complicated.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Hannah's and Marnie's apartment, which is in the most expensive part (India Street) of Greenpoint, would rent for about $1,500 to $1,800 per month. Marnie is forced to pay the full rent after Hannah loses her parental funding. While paying half would be possible, it's way too much of a stretch for Marnie to pay the full amount given that her art gallery job would pay no more than $30,000 per year and she gets only limited family support.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Jessa's and Marnie's surprising makeout session in Episode 8.
  • Godiva Hair: A topless Marnie, in the Season Two premiere.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Jessa, inadvertently, after finding out she's pregnant. Out of anxiety, Jessa purposely avoids making it to the clinic where she is scheduled to have one done, but it soon turns out that she's actually not pregnant when she gets her period at a bar.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Though many of the characters don't have to "grow up" as much as normal people do, as many are supported by their families (Marnie and Shoshanna) or get by through mooching off others (Jessa and Hannah), the show is clear that being a twentysomething — something often celebrated by nostalgic older writers — can really suck, especially if you're living in an extremely expensive area, didn't pursue a "useful" degree (or aren't sure about your plans at all), and are surrounded by a bunch of uncertain, aimless, self-involved acquaintances. Your dreams for the future can be crushed because of events that aren't even your fault, and relationships that you count on can blow up overnight. Have fun!
  • Headbutting Heroes/Vitriolic Best Buds: Marnie and Jessa. It's not completely clear whether they are actually friends or not. In Episode 8 it's made clear that up until then they had a mutual friend in Hannah but really weren't friends with each other. However, their friendship develops - REALLY develops - in this episode (though their interactions wane as the seasons go on).
    Marnie: See, this is what you do. You act like I'm uptight, and then, I follow suit. I become uptight. It's the most frustrating dynamic on the planet. It drives me crazy!
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: When Hannah's boyfriend breaks up with her, she goes to her apartment and hits the fridge, taking out a pack of ice-cream.
  • Heel Realization: Subverted. Alpha Bitch Marnie can't see her own faults. At the end of season 1, Marnie tells Hannah she's the bad friend — even though Marnie was equally culpable in the breakdown of Marnie and Hannah's friendship.
  • Heroic BSoD: Hannah holes herself up in her bedroom under a blanket and refuses to eat or shower after learning that within a month of her leaving, Adam has already gotten a new girlfriend, moved her in and removed all of Hannah's possessions.
  • Hipsters: Hannah and her friends fall somewhere between being these and Bourgeois Bohemians.
    • Ray's coffee shop rivals in season five are serious hipsters, and Shoshanna helps him market his own shop as "anti-hipster" to bring in revenue.
  • Hope Spot: Charlie reappears in season five at the exact moment Marnie is at her wit's end with Desi. After sharing a romantic evening together, Charlie suggests they run away together, an idea Marnie seriously considers as an out of her own unhappy life and marriage... Until she finds his heroin needle and realizes it's impossible.
  • Idealized Sex: So averted.
  • Idiot Ball: Hannah's impious behaviour at David's funeral stands out. She actually does try to act appropriately, but then she winds up expressing concern only for herself and her book project, in front of the widow, no less. Adam has to call her out several times during that story-arc.
    • Marnie getting engaged to Desi. They've only been together for a few months (to be fair, not counting the time when he cheated on his previous girfriend with her...), are far from being functional in any way whatsoever and getting married is one of the most stupid ways to fix that.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Hannah and Elijah, which is something Hannah discovers after their relationship.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In the pilot episode, Hannah complains that being her parents' only child, she can't be draining all their resources. Her mother Loreen points out Hannah's making them cover her apartment rent (almost $2000 a month) plus insurance and utilities.
  • Intoxication Ensues: "The crackcident" in "Welcome to Bushwick" — Shoshanna smokes what she thinks is pot, but turns out to be crack. She freaks out and runs away, forcing Ray to chase after her, which just freaks her out even more.
  • Important Haircut: Hannah cuts off her hair on-screen after she breaks up.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: Marnie's "What I Am" music video. Oof.
  • Jerkass: All of the characters have plenty of this.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Shoshanna's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her now-former friends in "Goodbye Tour" is pretty blunt and not the best note to end things on, but she's right about their past failings and the negative effect they've had on her.
  • Large Ham: Ray is usually a Deadpan Snarker, except when he has to chase down a high Shoshanna.
    Ray: Shoshanna! Come back! I'm your crack spirit guide! STOP!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The whole point of Sandy in Season 2 was to address the criticism of the show's lack of diversity. This is particularly evident when he admits to not liking a piece of Hannah's writing by saying "It wasn't for me."
  • Lesbian Jock: Discussed and averted in Females Only when "fat gay Laura" tells Jessa she hates it when people assume that because she's a lesbian, she likes sports, when she really dislikes playing them.
  • Look Both Ways: Adam in the season 1 finale, in a non-fatal example. Episode 8, as well.
  • Meet Cute: Shoshanna and her fiance meet in line for a Sprinkles cupcake ATM.
  • Men Don't Cry: Averted in episode "Boys" when Ray is depressed, having spent a day trying to return a dog to its owner, having an argument with Adam and generally feeling like a giant loser. He just loses it, covers his face and cries.
    • Laird also cries at Caroline's story about her dead cousin, even after she reveals it's fake.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: On a couple of occasions Marnie has been clothed in situations that in real life would have involved nudity. Shoshanna too, though it could be argued that her summer camp friend was in too much of a hurry to have removed her bra. A modesty bedsheet makes a literal appearance when Shoshanna loses her virginity in the season 1 finale.
  • Monochrome Casting: One of the major complaints about the show. It's set in Brooklyn, albeit in a largely white part, which makes this fairly striking. This was addressed by Lena Dunham, who apologized for the show's whiteness in several interviews. Perhaps to offset this criticism, Donald Glover was cast in a recurring role in season 2... only to disappear after a few episodes, with the show going on as usual.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's mostly a comedy, but there are lots of awkward and uncomfortable moments mixed in, as well as some straight drama, and often times they follow comic scenes rather suddenly.
    • Especially notable in "Welcome to Bushwick", which starts out as one of the straightest comedy episodes in the series... before Jeff gets beaten up, Marnie gets chewed out by Elijah and Hannah gets in an argument with Adam.
    • After Shoshanna's icy "The Reason You Suck" Speech effectively ending the group in her apartment's bathroom, Hannah announces that she's also fed up with the other girls and her decision to move to upstate New York is now cemented. Then Elijah pops in, crudely announcing that he got the lead role in White Men Can't Jump.
  • Nature Tinkling:
    • In "Video Games", Hannah relieves herself on a telephone pole while waiting for a train.
    • Two seasons later, in "Female Author", Jessa crouches between two parked cars on a New York street when she can't find a bathroom. Police in a passing car spot her, and give her a ticket which she rips up, resulting in more serious charges against her and Adam.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Judd Apatow and the people he works with have always dealt with this, and Girls is no exception. Hannah's "I think I may be the voice of my generation" line was heavily pushed by HBO's marketing department when the series premiered. However, in its corresponding episode, the line (and, thus, that entire notion) is immediately subverted. Specifically, Hannah says it while high on opium. And she immediately retracts it once she realizes, through the dirty looks her parents give her in response, how stupid it sounds. Lena Dunham herself has openly stated that Girls is not at all a Generation Y manifesto but simply a look at the trials and tribulations of four specific twenty-something year old women trying to make it big in NYC. The show's surprisingly broad fanbase (encompassing everybody from 18 year old girls to 55 year old men) speaks for itself.
  • No Bisexuals: Discussed with Elijah when he has sex with Marnie.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Marnie and Hannah swap stories about the regularity (Marnie) and irregularity (Hannah) of theirs, and then there's Jessa's very convenient one.
  • Odd Friendship: Elijah is much more snarky and cynical compared to the quirky and optimistic Shoshanna, but despite his earlier apparent disdain for her, he ends up getting invited to her engagement party over Hannah and Jessa. When a disbelieving Hannah asks why he's there, he simply comments that he and Shosh became "bros."
  • Old Flame Fizzle:
    • Marnie and Charlie reconnect by chance in the middle of season five, but after a romantic night together, she ultimately leaves in the morning after learning he's a liar and an addict.
    • Adam and Hannah reconnect near the end of the final season, with the former, learning of the latter's pregnancy, giving it one more shot. But despite still having solid chemistry and his sincere commitment to her, they ultimately realize it can't work after his anemic marriage proposal over soup in a diner, and she realizes that they have too much painful history to go on like nothing happened. And the fact that he's living with Jessa when this happens.
  • One-Word Title: Girls
  • Out of Focus: Shoshanna largely fades from the narrative in the last couple of seasons, and in the final season got less screentime than Desi. While this largely had to do with the narrative focusing more on Hannah as the main character, the creators argued that this was intentional, which was confirmed in the penultimate episode — Shoshanna now has a life and love of her own, which Hannah only learns through conversation with others, proving Shoshanna's earlier concern that her friendship with the other girls (and thus her presence in the show) was holding her back from meeting people who would truly be good for her.
  • Pair the Spares: Ray ends up with Shoshanna's old boss Abigail.
  • Paper Destruction of Anger: In "Female Author", Jessa relieves herself between two parked cars on a New York street. A police officer in a passing car spots her and gives her a ticket for public urination which she rips up in pieces.
  • Percussive Therapy: Booth breaks at least two bottles of vintage wine in a cellar when he has an argument with Marnie in "Boys."
  • Potty Emergency: Hannah's urinary tract infection, when coupled with the lack of a restroom at a remote train station, leads to an embarrassing situation.
  • The Quiet Game: Adam asks Hannah to play this because of her awkward chatter while they're having sex.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: These are delivered to various characters with surprising frequency (or perhaps not so surprising, given the note under 'Jerkass').
    • Hannah gives one to Charlie in "It's a Shame About Ray"
    Charlie: (about Marnie) She's a cunt.
    Hannah: You're a jerk.
    Charlie: What?
    Hannah: You know the kind of year that she's had, okay, first you guys break up, then her dad loses his job, then she loses her job, then she has sex with a gay man, and then she has to come over here and deal with your needs and your whining, I'm sorry, you're a fucking jerk!
    • From the same episode, Jessa to Thomas-John:
    Jessa: You're just some scared guy who didn't get laid until they were sixteen. No one liked you in high school, and no one likes you now. I'm embarrassed when we walk down the street because you're so fucking average. I tell my friends you were born a test-tube baby, just so you have a little edge.
    • Then Thomas-John calls her out for using him for his money to get by without having to work, as she is "a whore with no work ethic," causing her to slap him.
    • And then in "Together," Hanna calls Jessa out for bailing on all their friends when she doesn't answer her phone.
    "Oh, hello. YOU FUCKER! Where did you go? And who am I supposed to talk to if you won't answer your fucking phone? That anorexic Marnie? Fucking Shoshanna? My stalker ex-boyfriend? It's not like any of them want to talk to me! I don't blame them because I cut off all my FUCKING HAIR! And now you're off somewhere, just living it up, wearing a crop-top. You probably got your vagina pierced. And you're not answering your phone. And you're forgetting about everyone who's fucking it up here! SO I HOPE YOU'RE HAVING A GREAT TIME! LOVE YOU!
    • Hanna delivers an epic one to Marnie at the end of "Bad Friend."
    • Adam's sister delivers one to Hannah about her and Adam
    Caroline: You and my brother deserve one another, you know that? You selfish little pricks! And you will never write a thing that matters because you will never understand the true struggles of humanity because you just slipped right out of your mother’s pussy like a nice little golden egg, you spoiled little fuckin brat.
    • Shoshanna, of all people, puts all three of the others in their place in "The Beach House."
      • She also gives another group-wide speech during the penultimate episode when Hannah crashes her engagement party in overalls and a bad attitude and effectively dismantles the group while asserting her own growth and independence.
    • Adam delivers one to Jessa in "Female Author" after her flippant response to getting them both arrested after refusing a citation for public urination, calling her out for her toxic and self-involved behavior and refusal to stop acting like a reckless addict despite being sober.
      • He also delivers a pretty devastating one to Hannah at the end of "She Did," after she arranges for Elijah to be her new roommate despite Adam's wish to take on that role.
    • Ray gives one to Desi in "Home Birth" about the way he treats Marnie.
    Ray: Desi, this isn't about where you're from. This isn't about geography. This is about that distressed shirt you're wearing. This is about the fact that you have eyeliner on your face right now. This is about the fact that your musical sensibility is insufferable. Don't ever think that you get onstage anywhere where a vast majority of the crowd doesn't think "douche. You know how you feel when you watch Imagine Dragons play? Well, that's how we feel about you... I also know that you absolutely do not deserve her. Even remotely. You string her along for months and now you've proposed to her in some desperate bid to make it seem like you're not the most selfish person in the western fucking hemisphere, but you know what, Desi? I'm onto you.
    • Subverted when Hannah gives two failed ones to her GQ coworkers and her grad school classmates, as she quits both. The first ends up just coming off as her whining about having to work in a corporate environment instead of using her talents to spend all her time writing whatever she wants, and she lashes out against the one coworker who consistently treated her well and helped her; she recaps the incident later to acquaintances, to an unimpressed and awkward reception. In the latter she's clearly bruised that she's not the star of the program that she thought she would be and not everyone loves her writing, and she goes around the room insulting everyone before awkwardly leaving.
    • Elijah, learning of Hannah's pregnancy, telling her he has no interest in helping her raise her fatherless baby and flatly telling her that she'll be a terrible mother. It hits Hannah hard.
    • In "Latching," Marnie comes upstate, ostensibly to help Hannah with her new baby. Conveniently, she's looking for a place to live at that time, and Hannah calls her out for expecting an idealized version of them living together when Marnie "sucks at" dealing with the reality.
  • Relationship Upgrade:
    • Hannah and Adam in the first season. It doesn't last long though. However, they later get together and they remain together. Until they break up for good, and Adam dates Jessa (and according to Dunham, eventually marries and has kids with her) instead.
    • Played with, with Ray and Shoshanna. Though they were initially a decent couple, their differences quickly became too much to bear when Shoshanna considered Ray too aimless and hateful, and Ray couldn't fully respect the young Shoshanna. After they returned to each other as friends, their relationship became much stronger and built on mutual affection and respect, and it's Marnie that feels left out watching them talk.
    • Ray hates Marnie's guts at the start of the series, but ends up getting together with her and he declares her the love of his life. None of their attempts at a relationship last, however.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Rewatching Panic in Central Park, it's easier to notice how Charlie frequently leaves, typically to the bathroom, and comes back more manic than before because of his heroin addiction.
  • Roommate Com: Four women in their early-to-mid-twenties live in New York City. Their life is depicted a bit more realistically, as their apartments are less glamorous than usual in fiction, they happen to have shitty jobs, they have to rely on their parents' income and have almost no money.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Shoshanna's a virgin, and very insecure about being such, so this is bound to come up. In the finale of season one, she finally loses her virginity to Ray.
  • Sex with the Ex: Jessa hooks up with an ex-boyfriend at one point, and Marnie and Charlie consider it when both are forced to attend a wedding dateless but decide against it.
  • Shirtless Scene: Adam has these very frequently, to the point that Hannah lampshades this in one episode.
    Hannah: I don't think I've ever seen him with a shirt on...
  • Shout-Out: There are several to Sex and the City.
    • Jessa's blue shoes at her wedding.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Hannah tries eating at even the most inappropriate times.
    • In the pilot episode while Hannah is having dinner at a restaurant her parents (Loreen and Tad) try to tell her they're cutting her off while she's still unemployed because they've grown impatient with her enjoying an all-expenses paid lifestyle they were funding. A waiter arrives and Hannah tries to order dessert. Loreen barks at her obese daughter to stop eating.
    • In episode 5, after Hannah sabotaged Charlie and Marnie's relationship by saying the two don't belong in her journal or diary or whatever she calls it, Marnie tries to make Hannah apologize and admit what she did was wrong. Hannah just continues to eat cereal and belittles Marnie with her mouth full.
  • So Okay, It's Average: In-Universe the girls' artistic talents are portrayed this way.
    • Hannah's writing varies between quite good and quite pretentious, but never takes a definitive swing in one direction.
    • Marnie is a decent singer, but not even closely as good as she thinks. The folksy indie pop music she makes with Desi doesn't make one's ears bleed, but neither is it interesting whatsoever.
    • Jessa is noted to be a decent painter, but never really puts in the time or motivation to become genuinely great.
  • Stylistic Suck: The delightfully corny music video to Marnie's cover of Edie Brickell's "What I Am", which to her disdain found its way to Youtube.
  • Sunday Evening Drama Series: It's technically a comedy but arguably falls into the confines of the trope for being an HBO show that's Award Bait and Hotter and Sexier, and for having a similar audience to the typical Sunday evening series.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: One of Ray's coffee shop regulars dies this way in season six.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Thomas-John tries to persuade Marnie and Jessa into this.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: All the leads are a lot nicer and normal in the first two seasons, but become colder and more self-involved as the show runs on.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Hannah complains "I have been dating someone who treats my heart like it's monkey meat." Just what does it mean to treat something like monkey meat? Isn't that real stupid to say, especially coming from someone who graduated college with an English major?
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: While all of the characters have their sympathetic moments, all four leads and especially Hannah often veer into comically inappropriate narcissistic behavior.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Subverted. Shoshanna is the one most embarrassed and self-conscious about her own virginity, and those she reveals it to are momentarily taken aback (as this is a world where Everybody Has Lots of Sex), but ultimately aren't concerned and even assure her that it's not a big deal, except for the first guy she tries to hook up with who refuses to sleep with virgins.
  • The Voice of a Generation: Hannah claimed to her parents, in the Pilot, to be this trope, while high on opium.
  • Wham Line:
    Call 911, I don't wanna die!
    • Joshua, Hannah's onetime fling, casually informing her that she's pregnant in the last season.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Hannah and Adam, as well as Marnie and Charlie, in season two after Hannah's relationship with Adam implodes. In the end both couples end up together, but the latter break up offscreen between seasons.
  • World of Snark: Hannah, Jessa, Ray, and Adam live in this world the most — but really the entire cast slides into it.
  • Women Are Wiser: Totally averted — the show is titled 'Girls' and not 'Women' for a reason. The leads have varying degrees of selfishness, narcissism, and childishness, and they constantly make mistakes, sabotage themselves, and ruin their personal and professional relationships. While the boys have their own problems (Ray starts the series a Jerkass with no goals living out of his car, Adam hardly has his life together, Charlie ends up a troubled addict) they tend to have far more stability and insight than the girls.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Right as Shoshanna is really becoming comfortable, happy, and fulfilled in her job in Tokyo, she gets laid off. The creators outright stated in an interview that they couldn't let Shoshanna be too happy.
    • In the past, she had a chance to be part of part of a successful startup, Jamba Jeans... only to ruin her relationship with her coworkers and miss the opportunity due to trying to build up a relationship with Jessa, who took her to Rockaway on the same day as an important Jamba Jeans trip for the chance to see Vincent Gallo, who didn't even show up.
    • Hannah finally gets an e-book deal... and then her employer dies suddenly, leading the publishing house to shelve the project indefinitely. Fortunately, she's able to get another publisher interested, and for a physical book deal... only to learn that the first publisher owns the rights for three years, caving in her plans.
      • After she's accepted into the highly competitive grad school of her dreams, she moves to Iowa and gets a nice place, but can't cope with any criticism and chafes with the other students when she realizes that she's not immediately made the coveted star of the program. After blowing up at the other students and giving an It's All About Me apology, she realizes she's not cut out for grad school and leaves after only one month... only to get salt rubbed in the wound when she returns to New York and find out that her stuff is gone, and Adam has moved his surprise new girlfriend into her old apartment. Ouch.