One scene in particular was just delightful, which isn’t the typical way you’d describe a show that embraced dark comedy. It takes place in the third episode of the first season, and it is the final scene. Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Marnie (Allison Williams) are living together in their post-college apartment. It’s at the end of a terrible day: Hannah got an HPV diagnosis and found out that her college boyfriend, Elijah (Andrew Rannells), is gay. Marnie had her own issues with her boyfriend, Charlie (Christopher Abbott).
Sitting on her bed, Hannah tries to craft the perfect tweet about feeling so miserable. She tries out a few different ones before she realizes the perfect line to send to her 26 followers: “All adventurous women do.” It’s a statement that her friend said earlier in the episode about women who have HPV. She types it in, and at the same time, Robyn’s amazing song “Dancing On My Own” starts playing. Hannah starts dancing.
A minute later, Marnie walks into the dark apartment. She smiles as she follows the music and laughs as she sees Hannah energetically dancing, fittingly, on her own.
“Yo, girl!” Hannah says as she notices her roommate standing in the doorway.
“Yo, girl,” Marnie says, laughing.
“What’s up?” Hannah asks, still dancing. Before she has a chance to answer, Hannah interrupts herself: “Oh my God, Elijah’s gay!”
“What?!” Marnie exclaims. “Oh my God. That is funny.”
“Funny is one word for it,” Hannah says, a bit out of breath. “I was going to go with f—ed. Or sad.”
“And,” Hannah adds. “He seemed gay.”
“Yeah,” Marnie says thoughtfully, starting to realize. “He seemed gay.”
“He seemed gay!” Hannah exclaims.
“Yeah,” Marnie says, starting to laugh again. “He was gay.”
At that point, Marnie walks into the room. She takes off her coat and starts jamming to the song. As they dance, Hannah wraps her arms around Marnie as “Dancing On My Own” plays and the screen fades to black.
The whole scene (which has landed on multiple “best musical moments of ‘Girls’ lists over the years) lasted two-and-a-half minutes, but it expressed so much: The many indignities of being in your early 20s. The satisfaction of crafting the perfect tweet that says exactly how you feel, even if only a handful of people will see it and no one will actually understand it. The idea that dancing along to a killer song can make everything feel better. And that sometimes, the only thing that can really fix a terrible day is just hanging out with a good friend.
Over six seasons, “Girls” had a lot of things to say about the millennial experience, and many of them were infuriating. But this brief and completely charming scene — which summed up what it’s like to be a very specific kind of 20-something woman — was one of the best.