Girls don’t wanna have fun. Or at least they didn’t seem to in this week’s episode of Lena Dunham’s endlessly polarizing, often hilarious, unabashedly profane HBO comedy.
Look, I’m a fan of the show — if not of all its characters’ warts — but you know things are moving from the verdant pastures of Skepticism and toward the icier tundras of Misanthropy when sweet, gentle Charlie is dropping C-bombs and Shoshanna is making dinner conversation about butt plugs.
And while there’s a bracing audacity to the way Dunham’s titular gals are constantly challenging each other, calling out one another’s shortcomings and bullpucky, there came a point during “It’s a Shame About Ray” where I couldn’t help but wonder: Why would anyone anytime in any age group choose to hang around around with “friends” who treat them with nothing but total, monstrous disdain? (Yes, Marnie, that last sentence is especially, though not exclusively, directed at you.)
Anyhow, let’s move things along and review the goings-on this week for each of the four Girls in question.
HANNAH | We kicked things off this week with annother Hannah breakup — this time with roommate/ex-boyfriend/ex-BFF (gay division) Elijah. Somehow, George decided Hannah should get to keep all of the furniture and accessories he bought for Elijah during their relationship, and Hannah — entitled as ever — didn’t flinch at the offer. “I made a mistake trying to repurpose you,” she mused wickedly, to which Elijah correctly huffed that he wasn’t “a vintage cardigan.” Touché.
Hannah then decided to throw a Pad Thai dinner party with the money she’d earned at her Jazzhate freelance gig — inviting Marnie, along with Marnie’s ex Charlie and his new girlfriend Audrey, plus Shoshanna and Ray, without bothering to warn Charlie and/or Marnie that they might run into each other. (Was Hannah hoping for awkward fireworks, or is she simply so switched-off to the feelings of everyone around her that she never considered it might be uncomfortable for the exes to wind up at the same table? I’m going with the latter theory.)
When Marnie arrived, Hannah remarked to Charlie and Audrey that it was “psychotic” for her ex-BFF to show up, but then psychoitcally insisted that “nobody go” (while inadvertently waving a giant kitchen knife). Over dinner, Hannah’s attitude toward Marnie ranged from comically condescending (“Unlike you, I’d do anything sexually,” she boasted) to openly hostile (again, expressing surprise Marnie would show up after so recently “double-crossing” her). I wish Marnie had grabbed control of the conversation here and asked: What right does Hannah have to be so angry? Yes, Marnie had a brief, drunken sexual encounter with Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend/roommate. So freakin’ what? Hannah was, at the time, dating Sandy and still dallying with Adam. Where’s the source of her outrage? That Marnie and Elijah didn’t invite her to make it a three-way?
Instead, though, Marnie let Hannah off the hook — not even reacting when Hannah called her “too self-involved to commit suicide” — until Hannah refused to take her side during a blowup with Audrey (more on that in a minute). That led to this amazingly funny exchange:
Hannah: Charlie can pick who leaves.
Marnie: [Getting up to leave] Are you f****** serious? Grow up!
Hannah: Excuse me: I am grown up. That’s why I cooked all this food!
Still, just as Hannah appeared to be crossing the line into unredeemable, she defended the absent Marnie when Charlie called her a c***, and also — in a self-bolstering moment after the collapse of her soiree — gave a review of her own cooking: “I love what I made.” (I kinda love that she loved what she made. In those instances of whimsy, I do get Hannah’s appeal.)
MARNIE | I’ve got to hand it to Allison Williams, whose performance as Marnie gets more nuanced with every week. Marnie may be dating (aka having sex with) a guy who locks her in a box, she might be besties with someone who verbally and mentally torments her, but sometimes, just with a glance or a throwaway remark, she reminds herself (and anyone who’s paying attention) that there’s a fighter within, a smart chick who — if she can survive her current descent into masochistic desperation — might end up having a terrific life. (When Hannah declared how hard it is to make noodels, Williams’ Marnie’s whisper of a smile was worth a thousand, “B****, are you kidding me?”
I also loved that deeply passive aggressive conversation between Audrey and Marnie, with the former dropping perhaps the most ridiculous straight-faced comment in the history of the show (“So my friend Shelby and I are starting a mustard company…”) and Marnie revealing she’s been working as a hostess at the Wedgebrook Club:
Audrey: Oh, so you’re hosting like a slam poetry night or like an open-mic night type thing?
Marnie: I’m a hostess?
Audrey: Oh, so when people come to the restaurant, you like show them where their table is?
Audrey: Got it, right.
Later, Marnie returned the bitchery a hundred fold, glancing over at her rival and faux-earnestly asking, ”So, where do you get your headbands?” Who knows, perhaps that was the straw that prompted Audrey to make a direct attack, accusing Marnie of “showing up places all the time to see your ex-boyfriend when he’s with his new girlfriend.” Marnie at least showed enough sense to flee the toxic scene, but (just like a victim in a horror film) wound up on the rooftop instead of heading downstairs for the exit. Without that, though, we wouldn’t have had this amazing conversation:
Charlie: I’m sorry about Audrey. She’s uh…
Marnie: Being a total f*****g c***. Seriously, she’s being really rude.
Charlie: She’s insecure.
Marnie: Why? Are her mustards not receiving enough accolades?
Charlie: No, because she knows how much you mean to me.
Alas, though, this tender moment prompted Charlie to kiss Marnie, Marnie to stop him and reveal she’s “seeing” nasty Booth Jonathan, and Charlie to brilliantly dismiss the artist as “That little Ewok in f****** Capri pants?” (“He’s a brilliant artist. And he’s of average heighth,” Marnie firmly replied.) Moral of the argument? Charlie has decided Marnie will never get any of “this” (pointing to his netherregions), and Marnie now seems even more isolated from every single person in her life. Maybe she should take out an ad on craigslist seeking new friends? No, seriously.
SHOSHANNA | I know HBO just ordered a new Lena Dunham project, but I’d honestly prefer a spinoff built entirely around Shosh. (I can’t be alone in this, can I?) That moment where Shosh arrived at the party and lamely tried to build an excuse for her tardiness was amahhhhz, even moreso when Ray bluntly exposed/rescued her by admitting they were late because they were having sex. Still, nothing can keep Girls‘ most lovable character down. “The best years of your life are totally gonna happen here!” she chipperly told Hannah after viewing her redecorated apartment.
I could’ve died happily, however, without ever hearing Shosh ask “What’s a butt plug?” — also: I’m not sure I believe the 21-year-old New Yorker wouldn’t at least be able to use her mastery of the English language to figure it out — but her later realizatoin that Ray has pretty much moved in with her, and her outrage that the decision was made without her even being able to call her aunt and discuss it — was pure Shoshanna geniusness. “I’m not okay, but we can talk about it when we get back to our shared home” ranks as yet another amazing zinger from this character.
Shosh isn’t all light comedy, though, as proved by the series’ most heartbreakingly romantic scene ever — a subway-bench confession from Ray admitting he thinks he’s a homeless 33-year-old loser, and that it was only a matter of time before his gorgeous 21-year-old-girlfriend realized it, too.
Ray: What makes me worth dating? What makes me worth f****** anything?
Shosh: That I’m falling in love with you.
Thank God someone on this show isn’t neck-deep in cynicism and hipster irony. Oh, and yes, Ray loves Shosh “so f****** much,” too, even if it’s way too early to be saying it. Huzzah!
JESSA | Jessa is the worst. No, I mean it, she kind of is, isn’t she? You knew her dinner with Thomas-John’s parents was going to be a disaster the moment she looked up from her busy afternoon arranging daisies and cala lilies, voiced her horror over their choice of a steak house, and blurted, “I can’t even eat meat unless I’m menstruating!”
Naturally, because being on time for dinner would make Thomas-John’s parents happy, and there was no direct line from that happiness to her own, Jessa offered her breasts as the appetizer to a main course of sex, and the newlyweds arrived tardy for the party. “I hate this restaurant but I don’t even care because I’m so happy to meet you guys!” announced Jessa, firing her opening shot in a series of bon mots that played like a giant middle finger to her bourgeois in-laws. It was also the first in a series of announcements that she shared none of their mundane concerns about career or money or not mentioning your former heroin addiction as casually as you might mention your intention to order the beet salad as an appetizer. (Still, for me, Jessa’s most irksome zinger was hearing her try to sound all mysterious when telling her pinched mother-in-law where she’d travelled: “Europe mainly — except Spain, because I’m avoiding someone.”)When Thomas-John’s mother finally snapped and icily noted how it had to be very nice for Jessa to “find yourself in such a successful situation,” the niceties began to evaporate, but Jessa’s hubby solidly stood up for her, taking umbrage with the phrase “situation,” and declaring the relationship as a “union of souls.”
Back at home, though, the “happy” couple had the drag-out fight that you’ve known has been coming ever since their stupidly capricious wedding. “You think you’re such a f****** free spirit because you shacked up with me for two months? I’ve been living this life for 25 f****** years! I’m going to look like 50 when I’m 30!” Jessa screamed, her need to be the coolest person in the room never more pronounced.
From there, we saw how a marriage can actually be dissolved in under five minutes. “I’m embarrassed when we walk down the street together because you’re so f****** average,” Jessa hissed, making me wince, which is saying a lot considering I don’t care much for Thomas-John at all. And then he countered by saying how he appreciates the company of hookers because they don’t whisper that his apartment looks “like the set of gay Entourage” and “they don’t buy a bunch of f****** Buddhas and put ‘em everywhere so it looks like whenever we have sex we’re being watched by a bunch of fat babies!” (Slow clap for T-J — not for the hookers but for the commentary.)
“You’re just a whore with no work ethic,” he continued. Jessa countered by slapping him in the face (she had probable cause, I think). And then the corporate dullard got in a shot that really summed up Jessa’s entire “free spirit” existence, one which really seems to lack any depth or intellect or attempt to live up to her potential: “You know what the best thing is: You have another f*****-up story to add to your collection, and some day some f****** asshole is gonna make a movie of your life, and it’s gonna be called ‘Hi, I’m Jessa and I destroy people’s lives because I’m f****** bored.’”
And so then Jessa ended up at Hannah’s, climbing into the bath with her, sobbing, and blowing snot rockets. That’s not okay, according to Hannah, though urinating in a friend’s tub is just fine. Alrighty then…we can all chew on that till next week.
Anyhow, with that I turn things over to you. What did you think of this week’s Girls? Which story arcs and characters are you digging most? Are we overdue for an episode that’s not so downright toxic? And what the hell is with all these ladies taking baths together? Is it a twentysomething thing that I’m too old to appreciate, or are you young’uns equally baffled? Sound off below!