HBO’s stylistically unique Girls will be back for a fifth season starting February 21. It’s apropos then that the Blu-ray of last year’s run hit stores days before on February 16. Girls: The Complete Fourth Season is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming.
The Complete Fourth Season was a time of great transition for the group. Hannah (Lena Dunham) leaves the Big Apple and heads to grad school in Iowa, and a secret about her father comes out, rocking Hannah’s world. Marnie (Allison Williams) has an affair with a married man, Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), as her music profile rises. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) has trouble locking down a career now that she’s out of school, finding the world less conquerable than she assumed it to be. Jessa (Jemima Kirke), well, she goes through a few things, mucking up others’ lives in the process, but that’s about par for the course for her.
What surprises me is how little Girls changes as all of these new things happen, especially with Hannah’s sojurn from New York. I guess a lot of Girls has always been segmented, with the four main characters often off on their own, only crossing paths at key points in the story or pairing up for small arcs. In that way, even with Hannah geographically isolated, the narrative can continue in much the same way it always has, with Hannah eventually making her way back to everyone else, as viewers always knew she would.
A lot of Girls is about staying the same. While Marnie, Jessa, and Hannah are trying to embark on new things, they are their own worst enemies and soon find themselves back to where they started, more or less. Adam (Adam Driver) is much the same, trying to break away from Hannah, but doomed to be in a vicious, unhealthy circle with her. Their personalities do not allow them to truly, fully commit to something new, choosing the familiar but inappropriate times, and not growing as much as they’d like to think they do.
The exception to this rule is Shoshanna. Shosh is the optimist, the cheery ray on sunshine. And she can get away with that for awhile because she’s in the isolated world of college, where anything seems possible. After graduation, though, she’s smacked in the face with reality. She tries to live in denial of it, as the other characters constantly do, but she finds it hard to do so. Will she become bitter or fall back into unworkable patterns? Or will she find a totally new self within her soul, and chart a path that none of her friends have managed to do? The possibility of her escaping is the most intriguing concept of all, when the others probably won’t.
Which is not a complaint about Girls at all. This show has a definitive style and tone that no other series does. It’s authentic and realistic in ways no one expected it to be at the start, and it shows some of the worst traps young people fall into these days. It’s the voice of its age, and no matter how much one despises Hannah sometimes, one should never forget Dunham has broken new ground to bring us this impressive program.
The best reason to buy this collection on Blu-ray instead of DVD is because the former comes with digital copies of the episodes, which seems to be more and more important for portability and flexibility in rewatching. There are also a couple of songs from the season, some deleted and extended scenes, a pair of gag reels, and a making of featurette. Toss in some recaps and audio commentaries, and I find it myself pretty satisfied with the variety of extras provided.
Girls: The Complete Fourth Season was released to home video on February 21, 2016.