The weak women of 'Girls' - what would Sheryl Sandberg say?

March 18, 2013: 4:51 PM ET
'Girls' finale, Sheryl Sandberg mash up
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

As Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg rails against stereotypes that are holding women back, the season finale of HBO's "Girls" has cemented them.

On her mega media blitz for her new book "Lean In," Sandberg argues that we're socializing our daughters to nurture and our boys to lead, that women grow up thinking men should be more powerful.

"Women internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives -- the messages that say it's wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men -- and pull back," she wrote in an article for Time Magazine.

The final episode of the HBO hit series' second season, written by 26 year-old Lena Dunham and airing on Sunday night, played those messages over and over.

Related: Sandberg says speak up, believe in yourself, take risks

Hannah, the series' lead character played by Dunham, is paralyzed by stress and can't make her deadline for her new book deal.

So what's a girl to do but call her father for help? And get her shirtless ex-boyfriend Adam to run through the streets of Brooklyn to save her. Adam himself is not the picture of professional success, but him kicking down her door and sweeping her up into his sweaty, hulking biceps is enough to make Hannah feel secure.

The rescue-me theme didn't stop with Hannah. Marnie, a once aspiring art gallery girl who's been floundering since getting fired, desperately tried to get her ex-boyfriend back, the same guy she rejected time after time until he made it big with a smartphone app.

Nowhere in Marnie's plea to her ex was there a mention of her finding a new career. All she wanted was to make him "snacks every day."

HBO's "Girls" has been wildly successful and widely called the voice of a certain set of twenty-somethings. (HBO is owned by CNNMoney parent company Time Warner (TWX).) For the season to end tied up in the happily ever after bow, where happily means safe and protected by stronger and more successful men, gives a voice to the stereotypes Sandberg worries about.

"Throughout my career, I was told over and over about inequalities in the workplace and how hard it would be to have a career and a family, she wrote in Time. "I rarely, however, heard anything about the ways I was holding myself back."

If only "Girls" were around back then.