I want more for Lola
Girls Season 1 Episode 4 recap
The naming of Jessa's young charges on this show is a triumph. I'm not being tongue in cheek at all. Lola and Beatrix. The names fit perfectly. Demographically, historically, the names are even well spaced, as they would have been popular at the exact times each girl was born. It's the kind of minute attention to detail that many shows lack, and that really speaks to an all-too-rare sensitivity writer Dunham must have.
Completely different, yet exactly the same, was the fact that the peen picture from Adam wasn't just a straight photo - it had a faux squirrel pelt or similar wrapped around it. We've seen enough of Adam to know that he'd think sending a straight dick-pic was too pedestrian. He needed to add something ridiculous to it. I've known him three weeks and change, and it made terrific sense.
So, given that there are clear tonal gifts here (and they're not limited to the above - Shoshanna's oral sex scene is another that went for the authentic, right down to the fact that all the overhead lights were on), I kind of wonder about the tonal misses.
I could be the only one, but I have a really hard time understanding why these girls are friends with Jessa. Yes, okay, she's Shoshanna's cousin, but Shoshanna is the least involved in the group anyway, which is another point the show makes well without hitting it over the head. But Jessa...
She doesn't seem to fit. Hannah and Marnie have a neat duality of papering over each other's insecurities and reassuring one another that they are doing what it takes to get along - even as they admonish one another about their choices in men. They have a symbiosis that makes sense to them, and to us. But Jessa? She doesn't seem to enjoy them, she certainly won't take any of their advice, clearly she thinks she's beyond reproach (and if she didn't bug me before, the line about showing up for work whether you feel like it or not sent me over the edge) so what do Hannah and/or Marnie get out of the friendship with her? What does she get from them? She seems disdainful and condescending, and usually when a friendship is so imbalanced, it's because one appreciates being near the other's glamour, while the other appreciates the appreciating. But I'm not seeing a lot of that either. It feels fake, like a friendship wedged in for the sake of it. There are these, of course, people you were inexplicably close to and then, just as suddenly, can't relate to, but this doesn’t seem like that. Is it too close for Hannah - or Dunham - to confront? When the girls' dad said that he was sure Lola was going to turn out well, like Jessa had, all I could think was "Can't we aim a little higher than that? Lola seems like a sharp little thing. This is what you want for her?"
Another tone problem I had was, of course, with the coworkers in both Jessa and Hannah's situations. I can give it the benefit of the doubt and say that each girl was being a clueless, entitled, privileged young woman who confronted the problems in the workplaces all "But how can you never have THOUGHT of this?" That kind of clueless hubris is the kind of thing Dunham has been walking a fine (and excellent) line with, and I can totally buy that neither Hannah nor Jessa would ever have considered that sometimes the realities of a workplace are not as ideal as the case studies presented in Business Ethics class.
But why were all the coworkers such caricatures? I'm not only talking about racial stereotypes, although I certainly heard those. But the implication that the women in Hannah's office don't work hard (or at all)? The shock from the nannies that Jessa wasn't an “actress with a baby”? (Oh all right, this made me laugh). Is this the way these women see the “adults” in their world? Isn't there anyone besides the four of them who's a reasonable human being? I think the problem is that if there was - if there were someone who appeared to be 'together” (even Marnie's boss last week seemed like a desperate flake) - the girls might be less comfortable with themselves as the picture of what the “right” way to live is.
But the point of storytelling is to make your characters uncomfortable.
I mean yes, her diary got stolen, and yes, everyone's hearts sank in unison as Hannah walks back in Adam's door. But keeping those eyebrows on her face all day wasn't an indication of how cool she is or even how clueless ...but how clueless the other people she interacted with were. Which is annoying.
Character flaws are essential for drama. And it's not that the characters aren't flawed, it's that they don't see any issues with the flaws they have, with the exception of Shoshanna, who is fast becoming my favourite. If they don't get themselves into trouble - or notice that they're causing themselves pain - then where's the story going to go? How do they become better...or worse...or different?
Attached - Lena Dunham and Allison Williams at the Met Gala last night.