In the pilot episode of Girls, Hannah Horvath says that she wants to be the “voice of a generation”. Over the course of six seasons, for better or worse, she succeeded. The series seemed to have more controversies than it did episodes. Many criticized Girls as being a vapid show about entitled millennials. But others praised Lena Dunham’s series for exquisitely capturing the dizzying freedom of millennial adulthood.
A major aspect of that freedom is relationships. More than any generation, society has granted millennials with the license to express themselves however they want romantically or sexually. For Hannah and her friends, New York City is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for dating—thrilling and adventurous, but one wrong turn can lead you down a dangerous path of despair.
Real talk, Hannah and co. have dated some truly horrible people—and to be fair, they haven’t always been angels either. Yet throughout this romantic minefield, there are still a few boyfriends worth swiping right on. Here are the Boyfriends On Girls Ranked Worst To Best.
11 Desi Harperin
Desi puts the “flake” in snowflake. The man has been engaged seven times, a detail he tends to forget to share with his fiancée of the minute. It’s ironic that Desi is a guitar player, because he played Marnie like a fiddle. His ability to play the role of sensitive musician is just too perfect to be believable, but Marnie eats it up. She ignores obvious red flags, like Desi being in a committed relationship when they get together, and marries him anyway.
It’s not enough for Desi to be a horrible romantic partner; he’s a godawful business partner too. He constantly blew through money, earned by both him and Marnie, on himself. Then he would turn around and refuse to let them sell merch on tour because of his moral high ground. Suffice it to say, Desi is the worst and Marnie divorced him.
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He’s the husband in another quickie marriage, this one to Jessa. Really, Jessa’s a provocateur who just wanted to shock her friends by getting married to a man she hardly knows; Thomas-John just happened to fill in the blank. He’s a juvenile businessman who needs sexual validation the way a baby needs breast milk…and boy, does he throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get it. In his defense, Jessa is every bit his equal in the spouse from hell department, but what did he expect? He knew her for all of five minutes, having met at a bar when he picked up both her and Marnie and took them back to his place for a threesome. That’s hardly the best “how they met” story to tell at your wedding.
He refers to himself as a unicorn, but that’s the wrong mythological creature; Thomas-John is a total vampire…of the emotional variety.
9 Fran Parker
A wolf in a nice-guy cardigan, Fran didn’t just fool Hannah; he created the unforgivable crime of fooling the audience too. At the end of Season 4, things looked promising for Fran and Hannah. The couple is last seen holding hands, staring adorably into each other’s eyes—a happily ever after if ever there was one. But Season 5 found Fran going from The One to Captain Critical in the blink of an eye. Hannah was too afraid to email or text him out of fear he’d correct her grammar. As teachers at the same school, Fran was known to re-mark papers of Hannah’s students because she was doing it wrong.
When Hannah shows some uncharacteristic good sense and breaks up with him, Fran blames her for his crummy behavior. Sometimes bad boyfriends make the best teachers.
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Hannah thinks she finally hit the jackpot. Paul-Louis presents himself as a philosophical surfer, whose beautiful soul is almost as big as his brown doe-eyes. The couple has several rounds of Deep And Meaningful sex while Hannah is on a writing assignment in Montauk. When their time together is coming to an end, Paul-Louis casually mentions that, oh yeah, he kinda sorta has a girlfriend.
Back in the city, Hannah discovers she’s pregnant with Paul-Louis’ baby. After a gargantuan effort, she finally tracks him down and he tells her that, under no uncertain terms, he doesn’t want to be a part of his child’s life. But they’ll always have Montauk…
Sandy has his fair share of detractors; not because of his character, but because of the reason he’s on show in the first place. Season 1 of Girls came under fire for lack of racial diversity so come Season 2, all of a sudden Hannah has a black boyfriend named Sandy. He only sticks around for two episodes and there isn’t much that defines his character besides being the only racial minority on the show and also a Republican. Portrayed by the mega-talented Donald Glover, Sandy comes across leaps and bound more mature than Hannah and viewers wish he would have stuck around.
6 Charlie Dattolo
In Fantasyland—Population: Charlie—Charlie’s a nice guy. But he’s as delusional as he is socially tone deaf. He snoops through Hannah’s diary and upon reading her brutal, yet accurate assessment of his and Marnie’s relationship, he filches the diary and reads it out loud during a gig with his band. At what point did he determine this was a better idea than just talking to Marnie?
They break up only to get back together when Marnie makes an ass out of herself at his workplace. Then he straight up dumps her after asking her to come over under the guise of proposing. Who does that? Charlie re-enters Marnie’s life briefly, having did a total 180, from slimy “sweetheart” to drug dealer. The crazy thing is that Marnie almost runs away with him. It’s pretty indicative of Charlie’s boyfriend potential when his best trait is that he’s not Desi.
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5 Adam Sackler
Adam is the Jekyll and Hyde of boyfriends. Jekyll Adam is a fierce lion of devotion. When Hannah had a nervous breakdown, he was there in a flash. Jessa needed money for school; Adam wrote a cheque, not thinking twice.
And that’s his problem: Adam doesn’t think twice. That’s often when Hyde Adam comes out to play. When Hannah was away at school, Adam took up with Mimi-Rose Howard. True, Adam and Hannah were open, but did he really have to go tear down a wall in her apartment so he and Mimi-Rose could have more room? If you really want to hurt a New Yorker, damage her rent-controlled apartment. That is far worse than any pedestrian infidelity. On some level, Adam knows that. On another, he doesn’t care.
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4 Elijah Krantz
Elijah doesn’t have boyfriends so much as sugar daddies. More power to him, except the sugar daddies in question tend to be the most noxious people of Girls, and that’s saying something. Elijah has been known to make some questionable choices, whether it’s hooking up with Marnie while in a relationship with George, or whether it’s giving Hannah HPV and lying about it.
Still, Elijah shows tremendous growth throughout the series. He catches the eye of dashing news anchor Dill Harcourt and Dill sweeps Elijah off his feet. But when midnight strikes, it turns out Dill’s just a pumpkin—a philandering pumpkin. He keeps congress with several gentlemen at a time, a revelation that disillusions Elijah. Still, ever the eternal optimist, Elijah professes his love for Dill, only for Dill to rip his heart out and stomp on it with his designer shoes. As painful as this was, Elijah really learned to value himself which will only make him a better boyfriend in his next relationship.
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3 Laird Schlesinger
What Laird lacks in common sense, he makes up for in heart. It’s no secret that he’s sweet on Hannah. Even though his obsession borders on stalkery, he’s totally harmless. Whether it’s trying to fix her misguided hair hack job or offering to co-parent her child, Laird is there.
Laird was also a stand-up boyfriend to Caroline, Adam’s unstable sister. Maybe Laird and Caroline didn’t always make the best choices, like naming their baby daughter Sample—yes, Sample—and maybe Laird could be a little clingy. But he is every bit as devoted to the women in his life as he is to his signature beanie hat.
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Scott is a rare breed on Girls, not just because he’s successful but because he’s actually a good guy. When he meets Shoshanna in a job interview, he’s instantly taken with her quirkiness and the two begin dating. In the hot mess parade that is Girls, Scott and Shosh were hardly the most exciting couple, but their functionality was definitely refreshing. Then Shoshanna had to go and blow it all by refusing to come home from Japan. Scott waited for her arrival at the airport until he realized she wasn’t coming. He was left scratching his head. So was the audience.
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1 Ray Ploshansky
While many of the characters in Girls think kindness is a meditation app, Ray has it in spades. His relationship with Shoshanna was a fan favorite. But as great as they were together, Shosh dumping Ray was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. As swell a guy as he is, Ray was a real pessimistic grump and could be a bummer to be around.
Ray fell hard for Marnie, prompting a collective “NO!” from viewers around the world. Even after their breakup, he still loved her, and proved to be the best former boyfriend ever—or at least on this list. Right before Marnie and Desi’s wedding, Desi was looking to bolt but Ray convinced him to go through with it, all to make Marnie happy.
If anyone deserves to be happy, it’s Ray Ploshansky. The series finale didn’t disappoint, as it found him starting a romance with the equally sweet Abigail. They shared a carousel ride complete with craned neck kiss. If life is a merry-go-round, Ray’s a great guy to ride it with.
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