A Girls Viewing Guide For Every Girl & Guy

The show that launched a thousand thinkpieces is about to say goodbye. On February 12, Girls will kick-off its sixth and final season, but before Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshanna say their farewells, it's worth taking a look back at how they got here.

To play a little catch-up on each of the girls (and guys) of the HBO series, we created a viewer's guide with an episode from each season that explores each character's journey. These are the episodes that highlight who these people were and have come to be — through the best of times and the worst of times. Let’s be honest with Girls, it’s so often the latter.

These are the episodes that trace Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, Jessa, Adam, Ray, and Elijah's growth over the years and help give some hints as to what comes next. Get ready to laugh, cry and be infuriated by everyone's life choices.
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Photo: Mark Schafer/HBO.
Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham)
She told us she was going to be the voice of a generation, but throughout most of the series, we’ve been waiting for her to find hers. From starts and stops in her writing career that have included the death of her e-book editor to a short Iowa detour, she finally seems to have discovered what she wants to say and how to say it. No surprise, her inspiration was herself.

“The Return” (Season 1, Episode 6)
Hannah returns home to Michigan to celebrate her parents’ 30th anniversary and starts wondering why she left. It doesn’t hurt that a former classmate who’s now a pharmacist asked her out within hours of being back home. That awkward dance to Keri Hilson's “Pretty Girls Rock” dedicated to a missing girl Hannah knew in high school should hurt all of us, though.

“One Man’s Trash” (Season 2, Episode 5)
The show’s first bottle episode and one of Girls’ most polarizing has Hannah meeting a mysterious and handsome man at Grumpy’s who lives in the house where she keeps throwing the coffee shop’s garbage. The dreamlike episode has her spending a day in this guy’s life flirting, barbecuing, and playing naked ping pong, but it also makes her realize how truly sad she is in her own life.

“Flo” (Season 3, Episode 9)
When Hannah once again heads back to Michigan to say goodbye to her grandma we get a chance to meet her mom’s family. What’s funny is Hannah begins to seem like the calm one. Her aunts can’t stop fighting over grandma Flo’s wedding ring and her uptight med student cousin is thoroughly uninterested in Hannah’s life, but the emotional experience gets Hannah to really think about how much of a commitment she wants to have with Adam.

“Sit-In” (Season 4, Episode 5)

When Hannah returns home early from Iowa Adam opens the door to reveal he has a new girlfriend named Mimi-Rose Howard, a reflection of all her own insecurities. After locking herself in her bedroom, which is now Adam’s, she gets visits from Shoshanna, Jessa, Ray and Caroline, all giving you insight into her situation. It’s Marnie though who may give her the best advice; to stop thinking Adam is her great love and start focusing on her friendships. Hannah’s final heart-to-heart with Adam is one of Lena Dunham’s best.

“Hello Kitty” (Season 5, Episode 7)
“What if you’ve been a silent bystander all along?” Hannah wonders this during a play that retells the tragic murder of Kitty Genovese. She thinks it's a thoughtful question about the murder, but it ends up directly pertaining to her own life. The silence is deafening when she finally realizes Jessa and Adam are dating.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Adam Sackler (Adam Driver)
For five years, we’ve been getting to know Adam and what we now know is that he’s a hard person to know. He isn’t forthcoming with any information. He doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. Despite all this, you can't help but want to know more.

“She Did” (Season 1, Episode 10)
Adam shows his true feelings for Hannah when she needs someone to move in with her, but instead of gaining a roommate, he ends up nearly losing his leg.

“On All Fours” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Adam is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in this episode that has him starting off as an attentive boyfriend to Natalia who wishes Sandra Bullock the best and goes to engagement parties. He likes how clear she is with him in bed, the consent she gives, which is ironic knowing how this episode ends.

“Only Child” (Season 3, Episode 5)
Throughout this season, Adam plays the role of Hannah’s keeper after saving her from herself in the season 2 finale. When his sister Caroline shows up we begin to see that he’s always taken that role with the women in his life, for better though it's probably for worse.

“Close-Up” (Season 4, Episode 6)
Adam’s relationship with Mimi-Rose seems too good to be true and it turns out it is. When she reveals a secret Adam begins to wonder how much he knows about his new live-in girlfriend. One thing he doesn’t know? Her middle name.

“Homeward Bound” (Season 5, Episode 8)
Adam becomes Mr. Mom when his sister Caroline goes missing and leaves her baby behind. The weight of the situation forces Adam to really question what he’s doing. Also to question Jessa’s neediness.“You’re an adult, she’s a baby,” he tells her. “Why do you need more help than a baby.” That’s a good question.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke)
Jessa has certainly come a long way since season 1 when Jemima Kirke threatened to quit the show. She’s gone from a lost girl to one who’s studying to help others find their way. Her road to recovery has always been a windy one and as we saw in the season five finale, it probably always will be.

“She Did” (Season 1, Episode 8)
Jessa likes keeping her friends on their toes, but even she seems surprised that she went ahead and actually married wealthy financier Thomas-John.

“Video Games” (Season 2, Episode 7)
A visit to her estranged father doesn’t go exactly as she hoped but it finally fills out Jessa's underdeveloped storyline. Her dad seems incapable of understanding that his daughter needs him, even leaving her at the supermarket after promising he'll be more attentive. In the end, Jessa’s left feeling more alone than ever — but maybe not as alone as Hannah does the morning after.

“Dead Inside” (Season 3, Episode 4)
After learning of the death of Hannah’s editor Jessa begins thinking about a high school friend of hers who died. Or did she?

“Home Birth” (Season 4, Episode 10)
When Caroline’s home birth goes into crisis mode it’s Jessa who decides to stick her head into the tub and see if she’s crowning. No, that’s not a metaphor.

“I Love You Baby” (Season 5, Episode 10)
After spending the first half of the season denying her feelings for Adam and the latter half denying that she feels guilty about dating Hannah’s ex it finally comes to head in an explosive blowout over Hannah and her role in their relationship. So many things were broken in the making of this episode.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Elijah Krantz (Andrew Rannells)
When we first meet Elijah, Hannah’s ex and future bestie, he lets us know he’s always his authentic self. As we get to know him, though, it’s clear he’s still trying to figure that out. What he never needs help with though is the perfect comeback.

“All Adventurous Women Do” (Season 1, Episode 3)
The episode in which we meet Elijah, Hannah’s best sparring partner. When she’s diagnosed with HPV she meets up with her ex Elijah to let him know he gave it to her. Instead, he drops a bombshell of his own that includes a fire Maya Angelou quote.

“Bad Friend” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Elijah joins Hannah on her ecstasy adventure where he hopes it will be the kind of night where he “punched someone who’s been on a Disney Channel show.” While that doesn’t happen, he does get to dance his heart out to Icona Pop before getting kicked out of his apartment for kissing Marnie.

“Beach House” (Season 3, Episode 11)
Elijah returns to Hannah’s life with a new boyfriend that doesn’t respect him enough, but he does get a chance to reconcile with Marnie over a julienne salad.

“Daddy Issues” (Season 4, Episode 9)
“I told you so.” Those are the words that Elijah tells Hannah when she finds out her dad is gay. It’s something he told her back in the first season, but as Hannah points out, Elijah thinks everyone is gay. “Most people are,” he says before explaining that former President Barack Obama “reads bi.” Being Hannah’s resident gay friend, he lets her know that her dad will be “coming out in chunks” before giving her dad a makeover. The whole thing feels a little '90s, like one of those very special episodes, but somehow Andrew Rannells makes it work.

“Love Stories” (Season 5, Episode 9)
Elijah goes full-on Julia Roberts when he realizes he has to seal the deal with his well-known television personality boyfriend Dill Hargrove. It begins with looking for an outfit that will say “I really am the one for you despite your misgivings about monogamy and your penthouse full of whores” and ends with a monologue that sounds like it could have been straight out of Notting Hill.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams)
Indecision is a big problem for Marnie. It’s something we learn pretty early on about her. She likes things her own way, but she’s not exactly sure what way that is yet. This is why she often finds herself repeating her past mistakes.

“Hard Being Easy” (Season 1, Episode 5)
Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s even harder when you don’t really want to break up. Just ask Marnie who fought so hard to get Charlie back only to wonder, “Is this what I really want?” Worse, being that she had this realization while having sex with him.

“It’s Back” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Charlie’s tech success is forcing Marnie to question what she’s doing with her life. What she shouldn’t do is cover Kanye West’s “Stronger” at a party for an app.

“Beach House” (Season 3, Episode 7)
Marnie hopes a weekend out on Long Island with Hannah, Jessa and Shoshanna will lead to some major healing and some great Instagram shots. Boy, was she wrong. Instead of wearing face masks and watching Queens Of Comedy before writing down wishes and throwing them into the bonfire, she ends up splitting four duck breasts amongst eight. By the end of the weekend, Marnie even manages to make dancing seem like no fun.

“Iowa" (Season 4, Episode 1)
Marnie tries to figure out what her relationship with Desi is while playing the toughest gig of her life: A jazz brunch.

“The Panic In Central Park” (Season 5, Episode 6)

In this capsule episode that pays homage to the 1971 film Panic In Needle Park. Marnie reunites with a very different Charlie. His voice isn’t the only thing that’s changed and by the end of this episode, Marnie has done some changing herself.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Ray Ploshansky (Alex Karpovsky)
Old man Ray, as Elijah so affectionately calls him, may think he’s wise, but he’s just as confused as everyone else he knows. Still, he’s taken steps to be less confused, which does make him wiser than most of the other characters on Girls.

“Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident" (Season 1, Episode 7)

We first meet Ray as Charlie’s friend, but this is the first episode where Ray gets to be his own person. That person is one who will chase a girl he barely knows through Brooklyn while she comes down from a crack high.

“Boys” (Season 2, Episode 6)
In hopes of getting back his copy of Little Women, Ray (totally a Marmie) ends up in Staten Island with Adam to return a dog. This trip ends up being a sad pilgrimage for Ray who realizes he doesn’t just want to work at a coffee shop forever.

“She Said OK” (Season 3, Episode 3)
Hannah’s 25th birthday party is Ray’s own personal hell. First, he gets into a dance altercation with Adam’s sister Caroline and then he gets punched by Hannah’s editor over LMFAO. The worst pay of the night, though, may be having to make awkward conversation with Shoshanna weeks after breaking up.

“Daddy’s Issues” (Season 4, Episode 9)
It’s Ray’s victory party and he’ll cry if he wants to. After realizing Marnie is engaged to Desi Ray doesn’t really feel like celebrating his city council win. He, however, does give a rousing speech, only to end the night sitting with a despondent Hannah. “I’m so happy for her,” he says of Marnie’s announcement. “I’m faking it.” That sounds about right.

“Wedding Day” (Season 5, Episode 1)
When it looks like Desi is going to bail on his eighth engagement Ray decides to try and convince him to call it quits so he can have Marnie. Somehow though he ends up in a pond hoping he doesn’t catch some disease.
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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.
Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet)
The youngest of the girls, we meet her when she’s not a girl, not yet a woman who truly believes the world is her oyster. Unfortunately, that sunny disposition starts to fade when she learns that adulthood isn’t as easy as she imagined it would be. As she goes into season 6, though, it's obvious there's still a lot of fight left in her.

"Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. The Crackcident" (Season 1, Episode 7)
Yep, the stuffy Shoshanna is a.k.a. The Crackcident. After unknowingly smoking crack she ends up leading Ray on a wild goose chase through Brooklyn.

“It’s A Shame About Ray” (Season 2, Episode 4)
Shoshanna learns a lot of things at Hannah’s terribly awkward dinner party ever. First, what a butt plug is and second, that Ray is unknowingly living with her. We also learn something new about her too.

Beach House” (Season 3, Episode 7)
When a weekend getaway to Marnie’s mom’s friend’s beach house turns sour Shoshanna is the one who takes everyone to task for ignoring everyone but themselves. “I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than all people,” she tells Hannah with a Cosmo in hand. Turns out Shosh is a mean drunk, but also an honest one.

“Cubbies” (Season 4, Episode 4)
After going on another unsuccessful job interview, Shoshanna tries to figure out what’s wrong with her and her meaningless jobless life. Shoshanna doesn’t have a problem being honest with others, she gladly tells Ray he has to stop buying a four-pack of T-shirts for $4, but in this episode, she finally gets honest with herself.

“Japan” (Season 5, Episode 3)
Japan is everything Shoshanna dreamed it would be. It’s Hello Kitty headphones and technicolor apartments. It’s cotton candy snacks after warm soaks. That is until it isn’t. After she gets fired from the corporate job of her dreams she realizes she doesn’t want to go home. She’s successfully run away from her problems and she's happy to continue running. At least not for a few more episodes. Poor Jason Ritter.

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