Jacob Klein broke the news on HBOWatch of Christopher Abbot’s departure yesterday with Christopher Abbot (Charlie) Quits Girls Season 3. Considering Charlie and Marnie were on a path at the end of the second season, destined to bring growth to both characters this was surprising news to fans of the show. With the abruptness of the news and the filming of the third season beginning this month, what does this mean for Marnie and the rest of the characters of GIRLS? Is this a good opportunity for the show to bring focus back to the girls, or is the departure of Charlie a loss for the series and particularly, the character of Marnie? How does Lena Dunham and company explain the absence of Charlie in a way that rings true to fans of the show?
First, I have to say that I was excited for Charlie and Marnie at the end of Season 2. Both of these characters had come a long way from the pilot episode and it was good to see the two of them trying to make allowances for each other, to ensure some kind of future together. Charlie, in my opinion, was always the character aware of his life path and who he wanted in it. He wasn’t a stoic guy, he wore his heart on his sleeve and he was devoted to Marnie. In the first season, we saw how Charlie, wanted to take care of Marnie, and how he was stifling her with his need to provide and show his love. His over bearing ways drove Marnie away unintentionally on his part and their break up was actually the best thing to happen to each of them. They were able to pursue other relationships and figure things out in their own way, without each other. In the interim, Marnie went off track and Charlie found his path and when it came time for reconciliation, they finally were on the same page.
As fans of GIRLS, know Lena Dunham is her own woman. This past season was a rough patch for this fan. It was difficult for me to come back each week because I didn’t connect with Hannah, Marnie or Jessa like I had in Season 1. I was afraid for these GIRLS and the boys I began caring about in the first season because they were making really bad decisions and I had almost lost all sympathy for them. If it wasn’t for the boys I would have stopped watching the show entirely. Ms. Dunham renewed my faith in the series in the second half of the season. The stories returned their focus toward who these girls are and the boys in their lives that are the defining relationships for them in their twenties. Does Abbot’s departure mean a huge turning point for the series?
Out of the three main boys, Charlie, Adam and Ray, Charlie was the hardest one for me to like. He was needy, stifling, sensitive and so dependent on Marnie for identification in the beginning of the series. Abbot was able to convince me there was more to Charlie than his love for Marnie. Here was a guy trying to be a good man, figuring out his life and trying to make the best out of it. After his breakup with Marnie, Charlie wasn’t willing to be the victim. He was going to try to make the best out of what he had and if that meant a new relationship two weeks after the breakup, so be it. He was going to try and salvage whatever kind of relationship he could with Marnie, because she did mean so much to him. Abbot’s portrayal of Charlie is a soulful one that is very easily dismissed as the softy of the group. As we found out in Season 2, Charlie is the kindest, most positive, most successful, most identifiable one of every single character of GIRLS. He has his head on straight, he follows his heart and redirects his life toward his goals as soon as something shifts. Charlie is a very admirable character and is a needed character within the dynamics of the show.
How will Charlie’s departure from the show affect all the characters? First of all, Charlie isn’t even in Hannah’s or Jessa’s sphere. Hannah because she is self absorbed and mentally not able to think of anyone unless it is in reference to her and Jessa because she is so far removed from the group on her own quest for acceptance, not realizing it was right there, that she alienates everyone. Shoshanna, the character who is the female equivalent of Charlie, because she also is lead by her heart, will put the most thought into Charlie leaving and how that is going to affect Marnie. Sho might not verbalize what she has come up with right away, but she will be intensely aware of the affect Charlie leaving will have on Marnie. Does Charlie leaving mean more growth for Marnie, or two steps back? That is a question Dunham and company are going to have to answer this upcoming season. I, personally hope to see Marnie grow and find more confidence in herself and let herself figure out things on her own. Since this is a drama I can also see Marnie spiral out of control. The loss of Charlie within the dynamics of the show is a deep one, maybe not on the outside, but as the show evolves, I think fans are going to be reminded of the heart Charlie brought to the series, that balanced out all the selfishness, anger, and contempt of the other characters.
Whatever Lena Dunham and company decide as the excuse for Charlie’s exit, I hope it is true to the character. I have faith that the writers will come up with a motivating reason behind the departure that will move the story forward. What are your thoughts? Do you think Christopher Abbot’s departure is a loss for the show? Do you want Dunham and company to leave the door open for his return? How do you think Charlie’s departure is going to affect everyone else?