Some Ideas for a Girls Reboot Season
Because we’re not getting any younger.
By BROOKE METAYER
On December 31st, 2022, I made a list of my predictions for the forthcoming year. The list included cultural turning points like “reputation Taylor’s Version,” “platform bowling shoes,” and “bisexual Kardashian.” My most certain prediction: I predicted HBO would announce a Girls reboot season. But as whispers of New Year's Eve party plans begin to weave through the city once again and glittery cocktail dresses appeared on all the fast-fashion websites, I feared the cultural prognosis I so tactfully and preciously documented in my Notes app may have been wrong.
I first watched Girls when I was twenty-four, living in a major city with a small liberal arts school degree in hand, and fresh off my parents’ payroll–essentially the same age and circumstance as the show’s Hannah Horvath in the first season. This was about eight years and several fashion cycles after the first episode aired, but even with this delay, the show’s detailed stories, uncanny characters, and satirical bite felt more than “relatable”; watching it felt like unearthing a sacred text. To me, Girls was—and still is—an enduring portrait of what it means to come of age in a post-third-wave-feminism America, exploring the treacherous realm between freedom and stability, confidence and entitlement, sexual liberation and demise.
No one in their right mind would say that we need more television reboot seasons. They are routinely off-putting and sterile, forever tainting the legacies of beloved media. Oftentimes, they carelessly fail to recognize what made the productions so special in the first place. Lena Dunham’s recent work has not done much to convince anyone that she is becoming wiser with age either. Her first film in twelve years, 2022’s Sharp Stick, was considered by critics to be her “first disappointment,” and Catherine Called Birdy—which followed close after—opts to tell a children’s story instead of her signature twenty-somethings. But every day that she is still working, every time I see her long captions underneath a disheveled selfie unravel themselves like ancient scrolls on my Instagram feed, I half expect my prophecy to be fulfilled.
Personally, I believe the show is a time capsule that should only be unearthed if handled with extreme care. Each episode—with its razor-sharp dialogue and casual charisma—has endless rewatchability. My post-breakup ritual is to text all my friends “just got dumped lol,” fling my forsaken body onto my couch, and turn on Season 2, Episode 9, “On All Fours,” finding comfort in the abjection and cynicism. Once, at a house party, I convinced the host to put on Season 1, Episode 7, “Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a The Crackcident.” By the time the girls arrived at the warehouse show, bodies were huddled on plush seats twisting necks to catch their favorite moments. But as history and Sex and the City show us, no TV show with this many screencaps circulating Twitter and hometown friend group chats is safe from the classic cash-grab revival disguised as fan service. So, if it’s going to happen eventually, we might as well make it now before Dunham falls any further from her peak.
Do I have dirt on potentially illegal monopolization practices at Warner Bros. Discovery that I could unethically leverage to fulfill my every media production wish? No. But what I do have is impassioned opinions on all characters’ zodiac signs and the ability to recite the Hannah and Elijah “your dad is gay” conversation in Season 1, Episode 3. I also watched, like, every “Inside the Episode” video on YouTube in preparation for this article. All this in consideration, I feel as though this qualifies me to present at least a few ideas. Just to get the momentum going. Because Lena, my dear, we’re not getting any younger.
Hannah returns to Brooklyn to work on a book
One of Hannah’s old essays about sleeping with a hoarder in college gets published in Forever Magazine and she suddenly gets a rush of young literary scenesters commending her for paving the way. She’s invited back to the city for a reading at KGB Bar and runs into her former professor, Michael Imperioli’s Powell Goldman. He says he has started a new indie publishing house and wants to commission her to write a collection of essays about her time as an emerging adult in Brooklyn. She decides to move back to the city from upstate, now with her six-year-old son, to re-visit her past with a new perspective and to spark inspiration; a daunting yet necessary artistic sacrifice encouraged by Marnie who (still living with Hannah) uses this opportunity as an excuse to get herself closer to her new twenty-five-year-old internet boyfriend she met on Raya. She was referred by Soojin.
The first six seasons of Girls allowed the characters to be messy, hurtful, and awkwardly vulnerable on their quest to figure out who they were supposed to be. Now that they are allegedly settled, they have a chance to reflect on where they started, consider what could have been, and—most disruptively—question if they are happy with where they ended up.
Haphazard reunion at a warehouse party in Bushwick
After the base structure of the season is set, now is the time for a big episode that reunites major beloved characters in chaotic ways. The best setting for this I believe is another warehouse party in Bushwick, not dissimilar to the “Crackcident” episode of Season 1. Getting a bunch of thirty-somethings to an underground rave will be difficult, but not impossible. All that needs to happen is that Hannah needs to meet a cool recent NYU grad and see a lot of her younger self in her. She then imposes a friendship as a way to cling to her youth. Hannah, while procrastinating her writing one night decides that “one cannot wait for inspiration” and texts the girl asking if any parties are happening. She tells Hannah she is at a warehouse in Bushwick and it’s “hot” but she means it in the fun, sexy way. Marnie joins because her Raya boyfriend, who she still has not met in person, might be there too judging by the color of the LED lights in his Instagram stories that she is watching from a burner account.
Ray is summoned when Hannah does ecstasy and hyper-fixates on wanting to be a productive citizen in the city she missed so dearly. She texts him citing a zoning law emergency that he, as a member of the city council, should see to immediately. Shoshanna—who has not seen or heard from either Hannah or Marnie since her engagement party—is brought along because she is secretly having an affair with Ray and was with him when he got the text. She opts to wait in the truck outside until a group of goth teens walk by on the street and she gets too scared to be alone.
Jessa, who just got back from an enlightening trip delivering babies in an Icelandic village, is embarking on a forgiveness tour. Her first stop: the party’s bartender who she had once had added to a sex offenders list in Russia as a prank.
Charlie, who has made yet another major lifestyle pivot, is the anonymous masked DJ performing under the name Lil’ Freeze. Elijah is there because he sells pharmaceutical drugs to college students on the side.
Hannah and Adam bottle episode
Obviously, we need my favorite weird hunk Adam back, but Hannah and Adam’s love story had already reached its natural bittersweet conclusion in the final season. The aching emotional truth when they tried to rekindle their love but ultimately realized they just weren’t interested in each other any longer was powerful, and a reboot season should not dilute that. And to be honest, Adam Driver likely does not have the availability to film a full ten to twelve episodes. So one intentional episode will do.
A Hannah and Adam reunion is essential to check off the fan-service box, and they need to milk it—but gracefully and delicately. Maybe they meet somewhere quaint like a park, or on the train, Before Sunrise style. They wander and discuss the fleeting nature of romance and how they saw the good in each other when it seemed like no one else did. Adam shares stories about his simple life as a struggling playwright who sees occasional monetary success. Hannah shares her changing perspectives on motherhood. Adam walks her home in the moonlight. They hug and make no plans to reconnect. A boygenius song plays over the credits.
Tally Schifrin versus Hannah passive-aggressive competition arc part two; Desi is a “mixologist” at a steampunk bar in Williamsburg; Tako with a “K” and Hannah become friends; A confrontational dinner party episode; Booth Jonathon on a downward spiral.