The debate over whether HBO’s Girls is one of the most overrated comedies of all time or a brilliant-hilarious look at an aimless generation of American twentysomethings is perhaps as polarizing as whether Carrie should or shouldn’t have ended up with Big at the end of Sex and the City. My opinion falls squarely in the latter camp (on both matters), but that doesn’t mean I didn’t occasionally want to reach through my TV screen during Sunday’s Season 2 premiere and violently shake some sense into several of the show’s maddening characters. (Actually, if I’m being honest, I think I just wanted to shake self-absorbed Adam just for the fun of it.)
Let’s review the goings-on in “It’s About Time” for each of the four Girls in question.
HANNAH | The episode kicked off with a shot of Dunham’s protagonist’s legs intertwined in bed with…gay roommate/ex-boyfriend Elijah? Wha? Not to worry, the sleeping arrangement was strictly platonic, with Hannah imploring her pal not to get his own mattress. “You stay in my bed and then we’ll use your room as a home gym,” she brainstormed, in a typically unrealistic flight of fancy. Turns out, though, Hannah’s got herself a new lover after all — played by Community‘s Donald Glover — but the poor guy couldn’t even say something as benign as “I love how weird you are” without getting a lecture about not peppering their conversations with the L-word. See what being Adam’s “main hang” can do to a girl? Oh, and speaking of that gnarly dude, Hannah — perhaps driven by guilt over Adam getting hit by a car during their argument in the Season 1 finale — found herself in the role of reluctant nursemaid, helping Adam pee into a bedpan (that splashing sound effect made me die a thousand deaths) and enduring typically awful bits of philosophy like “When you love someone you don’t have to be nice to them all the time.” No wonder our gal wanted to be totally unencumbered by dudes when she and Eli hosted a party together — side note: I don’t buy that Hannah is so ditzy she believed Elijah’s “French salon” theme had anything to do with cutting hair — where she brushed off Marnie, (literally) kicked her roomie’s drunk boyfriend to the curb and got the courage to tell Adam she felt like she never wanted to see him again. Whether the late-night, end-of-episode booty call to her new man is a sign that Hannah is going to demand more (and better) for herself remains to be seen.
SHOSHANNA | For me, Shoshanna is the ridiculous but undeniably sweet center of the show. I howled watching her burn sage and thank the universe for “a keen mathematical mind and fairly fast-growing hair,” then request that it also go to the trouble of ruining Ray’s life. “I may be deflowered, but I’m not devalued,” she announced to Hannah and Elijah, while also working a casual “bee tee dubs” into the convo. I loved her awkward indignence when she finally ran into the guy who took her virginity then (apparently) dumped her.
Shoshanna: Oh, hello. [Pause] Goodbye. [Turns her back]
I also love how, for Shoshanna, those self-help-esque prononouncements aren’t just hollow words (like the ones that drip from Hannah’s tongue on the regular) but an actual belief system. “You don’t wanna date me? That’s fine, because I don’t wanna date you either, because I only wanna date people who wanna date me because that is called self-respect. But I do not have to like you. Okay? You were never my friend, you were only my lover, and that is now over.” Yes, girl! But ultimately, Ray really does get and appreciate Shoshanna’s charms, as evidenced by his conversational olive branch (“pretty bitchin’ cheese plate you brought over”) and later, with this dreamy pronouncement: Despite the ridiculousness of her texts full of emojis (“A panda next to a gun next to a wrapped gift? It makes no sense!”), when he’s around her, he remembers…”your charm, your innocence, your strength, this beautiful fresh vibrant sincerity.” That final shot of the duo making out in Hannah’s bedroom while Ray repeatedly spilled beer on the floor was priceless. Oh em eff gee: Here’s hoping these two can make it, no?
MARNIE | Talk about a rough week. Laid off, or rather downsized, with breezy indifference by her boss, Marnie then had to endure the worst mother-daughter lunch in TV history. “All you girls think that you look really good, but you just look like floats in the Macy’s parade: These big heads on these tiny bodies,” huffed her self-absorbed mommie dearest (played by Rita Wilson), who later offered this horrifying gem: “Really, sometimes all you need is a pair of rough hands on your body!” I did crack up at Marnie’s retort — “I wouldn’t even sleep with a cater water and they’re my age.” — but even better was watching this young woman try to navigate the next chapter of her life without an income or a man to bolster her ego. I loved how you could feel Marnie’s sympathy toward (too-)nice-guy ex-boyfriend Charlie while watching his new girlfriend treat him with the same exasperation she once did (“you were always a really nice date,” she smiled), and yet at the same time understand how his repetition of the same old patterns meant she couldn’t consider getting back together. Somehow this led to a karaoke duet of “Building a Mystery” with Elijah, and then a fumbled attempt at sex with the guy who still gets aroused whenever Lisa Rinna or Allison Janney is on TV. “How am I supposed to get hard if you’re rolling your eyes?” Elijah finally asked, driving Marnie back to Charlie’s bed for a platonic night of rest. Marnie is a fascinating case study: Smart and self-aware enough to call out the people around her for their bad behavior, and yet at the same time a little too reliant on the approval of men to keep her self-esteem afloat. Maybe a single, messy Marnie is the bridge to a self-actualized future Marnie?
JESSA | All we saw of the recently married gal was Jessa and her hubby obnoxiously/gleefully cutting to the front of the airport taxicab line. Honestly, they’re kind of the worst, no? Also, that relationship kind of has to implode sooner rather than later, right?
Anyhow, with that I turn things over to you. What did you think of the Girls‘ Season 2 premiere? Were you stoked to see the show snag Best TV Show (Musical or Comedy) and Best Lead Actress in a TV Show (Musical or Comedy) for Dunham? And were you surprised it premiered against the Globes telecast? Sound off in the comments!