One of the first things we remember from the Pilot episode of HBO’s hit series Girls is seeing Hannah and Marnie sleeping in the same bed together, spooning as if they were a happy couple in their honeymoon phase. They were the best of friends—they lived together, they talked about everything together (from sex to painful childhood memories to their other friends’ flaws), and they even took baths together. Well, Marnie would shave her legs while Hannah sat in the bathtub naked and eating a cupcake. Sort of the same thing.
Since that first episode, Girls viewers have watched both Hannah and Marnie try to move forward with their lives and make the kind of adult decisions that would move them from girldom to womanhood. Although Marnie is a key character, the show was mostly about Hannah’s growth (or lack thereof). We watched her time and time again fail at her job(s) and mess up both romantic relationships and platonic friendships, all the while putting the blame on everyone but herself.
The common denominator throughout all of these very typical Hannah experiences was that she and Marnie were trying to figure out a way to remain friends. If you take a long, hard look back at the friendship between Hannah and Marnie throughout the years, you’ll see that they generally swung from one extreme to the other. They were either waking up in each other’s beds and spending all their time together, or they were barely speaking while being passive aggressively upset at one other.
Furthermore, it always seemed like Hannah and Marnie were competing to be each other’s best friends. Marnie always expressed a weird jealousy and frustration about Hannah’s love for Jessa (of course, we’re talking pre-Adam and Jessa). And Hannah couldn’t handle it when Marnie would tell other people information about her own life before informing her.
As if it weren’t obvious enough that their friendship focused heavily on competition, the opening scene of the Girls finale, which was adeptly named “Latching,” directly delivered the proof straight to our face. Just like in the Pilot episode, Marnie and Hannah woke up spooning, only this time Marnie looked Hannah dead in the eyes and insisted she should take home the prize.
You could see the fire in her eyes. She wanted Hannah to know that she had won this friendship battle royale, and that she deserved to be the one to move upstate with her and help raise Grover. It was a very Marnie thing to proclaim, but it was also a very Marnie-Hannah friendship characteristic to be displayed. We can’t say we were surprised.
In some ways, the finale brought us back full circle. Although the circumstances were wildly different—Hannah is now a mother, they’re no longer in the city, there’s no boyfriend in the picture—Hannah and Marnie are still wrestling with the same friendship challenges. Do they have to be in such close proximity to each other in order to remain best friends? Do they need to be this involved with each other’s lives (read: co-parenting) in order to consider themselves true friends?
Remember that the show is called Girls and not Friends, which means it’s more centered on these women finding their own way to a more mature and fulfilling life. For Hannah, part of that is trying to negotiate how to be a fully functioning adult without latching onto a best friend (see what we did there?) who will be there every step of the way.
Don’t get us wrong. Hannah needed someone like Marnie to help her navigate the new and difficult terrain of motherhood. Every mother deserves to have someone like that in their lives. However, Hannah learned in “Latching” that Marnie can’t be that person for her just because they’re best friends. Before she could figure out who that person needed to be—whether it was her mother or someone else—Hannah needed to figure out how to do a few things on her own.
The heart-to-heart (if you could call it that) that took place between Marnie and Hannah’s mom Loreen was a surprising one, but it was much needed. Whether Marnie was trying to restore the damage that took place between her and Hannah or she was simply doing her award-winning best friend duties, Loreen made it clear that neither Hannah nor Marnie were benefitting from this kind of clingy friendship.
Both Hannah and Marnie came to the same conclusion independently of each other. After channeling her inner Loreen toward the high school student who wanted to run away from her homework and her mother, Hannah came home on a mission. She was going to get Grover to latch, if it were the last thing she was going to do. Marnie also finally realized that she couldn’t stay here at this house with Hannah, because it occurred to her that a mature friendship could include distance, even if one or both of the friends weren’t in a great place.
The final scene of Girls was solely of Hannah’s face, which represented a lot of things, one being that she was moving forward from a more independent mindset. This was starkly different than how the episode opened up with her and Marnie cuddling in the same bed. We have no doubt that Hannah and Marnie will remain friends, but something tells us that it won’t ever be exactly the same, which is a good thing. Because it was definitely time for these two to detach so they could live their most fulfilling lives.