All forms of media present us different typologies of characters, from the classic villain, virginal maiden and mighty hero, to the well known joker, nerd, queen bee and the misunderstood complex bad guy, strong independent female and flawed troubled hero.
Depending on the era when these characters were created, as well as on the perspective of the creators themselves, the typologies are molded to fit an already pre-established range of viewers or readers, while still seeking to draw the attention of more by opening eyes and viewpoints and by being left open to interpretation, criticism, or adoration.
On April 15, 2012, HBO and Lena Dunham introduced us the project Girls. Starring Lena Dunham herself, the show focuses mostly on her character, Hannah. Through Hannah’s relationships with various people, the short series ends up concentrating on the four main girls, and eventually on an entire group of realistic characters as they struggle with various aspects of their everyday lives.
Unemployment, life crises, breakups, bad romances, emotional and verbal abuse, mental illness, growth (and lack of growth) as a mature independent people, family matters and sex matters. Despite the Sex and the City vibe and constant comic relief, the show’s realism and ability to make the viewer relate to the characters is truly outstanding.
Who are the Girls?
The four pillars of the show are Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa. Right from the start, we get the big message that this is a different show, which is not looking to introduce real life aspects in a fictional world, but it is a fictional world shrouded in a fictional style. Therefore, we got four different characters – plain Jane’s at a first glance – who struggle to keep themselves from drowning into the despair inducted by the fear of life and its constant changes, by having them make mistakes and letting them discover themselves.
Are you ready to discover them too? Here are the best characters from HBO’s Girls!
6. Elijah Krantz (Andrew Rannells)
Elijah is Hannah’s former boyfriend revealed to be gay. Despite their arguments due to Hannah’s jealousy and feeling of humiliation, he still takes her side and appreciates her – and not because he might have indeed gave her HPV. After Marnie’s departure, Elijah moves in with Hannah and provides a great financial support through his relationship with George.
His ties with Hannah and George are ruined by a failed sexual encounter with Marnie and he is forced to leave the apartment, but he and Hannah made amends later and he finds himself another boyfriend. He continues supporting Hannah and advising her during her life choices, while being more harsh on Marnie. Elijah is also very good in sensing things and he is the first to assume that Hannah’s father is in fact homosexual and that Marnie and Desi’s relationship is no good.
Why we love him: he is more than the sassy gay friend – he is the sassy honest true friend.
5. Marnie Marie Michaels (Allison Williams)
Marnie is that one girl of the group who seems to have her life settled and in control – she has a perfect job and a nice boyfriend. Yet, things are different in reality. Not getting pregnant, falling out of love with Charlie and cheating on him. He also finds out her true feelings from a third party which leads to a breakup. Although she is the one responsible for pushing Charlie away twice, for Marnie it is difficult to get accustomed with seeing him with another woman.
Blaming Hannah not only for the reveal, but also for her immaturity, Marnie moves out and she is laid off. A few hook ups and one night stands, including one with Elijah, as well as having to choose a job as a club hostess make her quite unbalanced by realizing that necessity and passion do not always collide.
Marnie has another failed attempt at having a relationship with Charlie as the main character in an embarrassing online video music; humiliated and lonely, she begins a sexual relationship with Ray, while falling for Desi, an actor and musician. They become a folk duo and enjoy success, but their partnership is full of tension until Desi proposes to her.
They have a lovely, but still not drama free wedding, but life as a married couple is not in any way better than before. When Charlie resurfaces in her life, Marnie wants to put an end to her marriage, considering that this would also put an end to her career.
Why we love her: she is the epitome of perfect-non-perfect. Her indecisions and failures make her human and better to understand, while making us consider our own choices.
4. Hannah Helene Horvath (Lena Dunham)
Hannah is the main girl and the one we get to see more in terms of screen time and in terms of story, which is the reason why it is easy to notice the character’s many flaws, making her both easy to relate to and sometimes extremely annoying.
Hannah is presented as the daughter of two university professors; jobless and with many expenses, Hannah is in a desperate need of money. To make things worse, she finds out that she has HPV and puts the blame on her friend with benefits, Adam, while still considering her ex-boyfriend, Elijah. Hannah’s recurring jealousy is revealed for the first time when she discovers that Elijah is gay and he had used her to hide his sexuality.
Things also seem to fall apart when her new perfect job is ruined by sexual harassment and her friendship with Marnie as well by Charlie and Ray reading out loud Hannah’s diary. She does get closer to Adam and they try to form a couple, while Hannah observes other sides of him, but they break up when Hannah takes Elijah as flat mate, due to Marnie moving out after a fight.
Although she starts dating Sandy, Hannah still takes care of the injured Adam. Hannah continues pushing people away from her by breaking up with Sandy and kicking out Elijah, after sleeping with Marnie. Realizing that she must pursue her own happiness, she gets an e-book deal and thanks her parents for all their support, but writing a book under a contract is more difficult than expected, especially when her OCD relapses.
Realizing that she must pursue her own happiness, she gets an e-book deal and thanks her parents for all their support, but writing a book under a contract is more difficult than expected, especially when her OCD relapses. Adam returns in her life as a main emotional support and he moves in. She finally gets to focus on others , when Jessa reveals that she has been hiding in a rehab facility.
Adam’s sister, Caroline, shows her the door and regardless of her few attempts, Hannah’s own problems make her impossible to handle Caroline’s presence. A short time spent working on GQ ends with Hannah being accepted into a workshop for writers and her relationship with Adam suddenly ends. Hannah gets to explore her literary talents, but her troubles in accommodating make her change her mind and career goals by choosing to teach.
She continues her life dating Fran, but jealousy – over his ex and over Adam and Jessa being together – and disagreements break them up and makes her reconsider her career again, understanding once more that needs to be responsible for her own happiness as she is growing older.
Why we love her: no matter how annoying, whiny and self-centered she is, we all can relate to her. We all are mini versions of Hannah.
3. Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet)
Shoshanna is a character difficult to stand at first. Because of her young age and shame of being a virgin, Shoshanna is constantly anxious and speaks fast with a high pitched voice, making herself rather annoying. However, what does make her lovable is her ability of growing up and take life in her own hands. Shoshanna is a great friend to the other girls and takes care of them when they do not. She shelters her cousin Jessa and stands by Hannah during her STD and HPV crisis.
Her attempts of getting over her “virgin problem” lead nowhere, until she meets Ray and their attraction finally solves her problem. After running away from him for a while, they admit their love and date for a while, until Shoshanna cheats on Ray and her guilt and his lack of ambition breaks them up.
In season 3, Shosh gets to focus more on her last year as a college student, while still being the shoulder to cry on of her friends. The irony of her life hits her tragically once she is told that she will not be graduating and the sweet Shoshanna gets to reveal her frustrations towards her friend’s self-centered attitude.
Her rage towards Marnie grows, who had slept with Ray while Shosh had wanted him back. Graduating later, she gets to understand the problems of her friends by not getting any job, but in the end she gets one – in Japan – and also makes amends with her ex. In the most recent season, Shoshanna returns from Japan – after having fun and flirting – all transformed into a Harajuku girl and jobless, but eager to help Ray with his business.
Why we love her: she is awkward, but she is very strong and mature behind her young façade.
2. Adam Sackler (Adam Driver)
Adam Sackler came in the picture as Hannah’s friend with benefits. Perceived as a toxic partner for Hannah, mostly because of them having an on and off open relationship, the carpenter’s strong personality, frankness and apparent emotional detachment make him a difficult to understand character at first, but throughout the seasons, he opens more and reveals its complexity. The first season shows Adam clashing with Hannah in terms of desires and the status of their relationship.
He even gets to impress Marnie, who had always seen him as an abusive boyfriend, by listening to her and sympathizing with her feelings. Despite their eventual breakup and him being hit by a car because of Hannah, Adam still longs after her and admits his feelings, the two ending up once more together and Adam moving in Hannah’s house.
With his sister’s appearance, the viewers, as well as Hannah herself, get to see more of Adam’s puzzled life and personality. His involvement in a Broadway production distances Hannah away from him, but they attempt to keep a long distance relationship while she in Iowa. He also begins to support another of Hannah’s friends, Jessa, who can be difficult to handle. Adam starts dating Mimi-Rose, an artist, breaking up with Hannah, but his girlfriend’s recklessness, lack of respect towards him and ex-boyfriend causes a breakup.
After his sister, Caroline giving birth to a baby girl, Adam feels responsible for the child and although afraid of such a fragile creature, he becomes a substitute parent for Jessa-Hannah. Season five also shows Adam getting closer to Jessa, whom he also feels like protecting her and with whom he can relate emotionally, causing Hannah to feel jealous.
Why we love him: He is the misunderstood bratty giant, who reveals not to be the problem, but the solution. Also, Adam Driver is the new Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, in the latest Star Wars movies and we love any of his characters.
1. Jessamyn “Jessa” Johansson (Jemima Kirke)
Jessa is a wreck – a beautiful wreck. She is firstly introduced as Shoshanna’s cousin and acquaintance of Marnie and Hannah. A free spirit and a hurricane at the same time, Jessa comes to Shoshanna for support, as she believes she is expecting a baby and wants to end the pregnancy. Missing the appointment because of a steamy bathroom sex moment, she discovers that she had not been in fact carrying a child. The relief does not cure her of her irresponsibility, but a job as a nanny, the girls she is supposed to take care of help her in revealing that a part of her is indeed awake and mature.
After a strange relationship with her clingy boss, Jessa surprises everyone when she marries an hysteric one time date. The young woman’s fear of adulthood is balanced by the pampering she gets from her rich husband. Yet, her personality clashes with Thomas-John’s parents’ and the two have a horrible break up, which leaves her more emotionally scarred.
Disappointed by her husband and later by her father, Jessa departs from everyone and goes into rehab, but every up she attempts in life is taken aback by a deeper down. Rehab and being politically correct or pretending to be nice is not for Jessa and she eventually discovers that a friend she believed to be dead was just hiding from her. A short period of calm is ruined by a fight between the girls and the subsequent return of drugs in her life.
After being shown the wrong turn her life has taken, Jessa gets closer to Adam Sackler and after being part of his niece’s birth, she decides to become a therapist. Her newly found purpose in life plays a big role in her accepting her responsibilities as an adult as well as does her growing feelings for Adam and the sense of finally belonging next to someone who sees the real her.
Why we love her: she is a huge mess and a human tornado, but behind her laid back attitude, she is a scared bunny with a great emotional complexity.