From the moment Girls debuted in 2012 to when it ended in 2017, the HBO show was a constant source of controversy. Lena Dunham’s series won over plenty of fans with its raw, funny look at the lives of four twenty-something women living in New York City, but by the show’s finale, the big question seemed to be whether these characters should be redeemed for their privileged, narcissistic behavior—or punished. Dunham, along with her collaborators Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow, had spent six seasons both satirizing and celebrating its characters’ self-absorption. The finale raised the question of how to maintain that sense of empathy and realism, without betraying who these women fundamentally were. Here’s our Take on how the Girls finale allowed its characters to grow up just enough, how the backlash to the show influenced its evolution, and what the series ultimately said about the people it represented.