Getting There

May 22, 2012 17:23:32 Posted at May 22, 2012 17:23:32
Duana Posted by Duana
Photos:
Doug Meszler/Splash

Girls Season 1 Episode 6

The Girls first season will be 10 episodes. That's a small order. It's not so unusual with cable, some shows get as few as 6 episodes, but it's small. You barely get to know your characters, it takes time to flesh everyone out, and then boom, you're at the end of your run. A short series most often means, too, that all the episodes were written and produced and in the can before the first one ever aired, so there's no way to take stock of the audience reaction and adjust; then again, taking too much stock too early on means you might lose your own voice listening to theirs. A lot of people 'find' a series at episode 6 or so, and go back to watch earlier episodes later, and kind of grimace: that isn't their show, and it's funny to think that they started there. In other words, I thought this episode of Girls was the most successful so far (which is in itself kind of a problem, because most of the stars of the show weren't in it, but bear with me).

Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham wrote this episode together, and some of the comedy elements seem clearly evident of that. From the exploding garbage-bag suitcase to the shower-sex mishap of Hannah's parents, there were more visual gags than in the first five episodes. I can take or leave the silliness of them, but they provide a pace to move us from act to act, as well as a real marker to show us the difference between the 'comedic' elements of Hannah's life and the stuff she's taking more seriously.

I've obviously found the characters hard to relate to at times in their New York adventures as they seem weirdly Teflon about everything - so what does it say that I found this episode realistic and relatable?  I had always assumed that every kid trapped in a bucolic suburban setting growing up feels this way - suffocated, dramatic, and turned into an awful person not because you particularly want to be mean to your parents (and damn them for the well-stocked refrigerator, you would never eat like this at home because there's no food at home), but because you're just so frustrated with who you are when you're there, so far from the life you want to be living, so aware that there's a life that involves less struggle and more money and an easier path, but is just fundamentally unacceptable to who you are.    

But I'm told every day by Facebook, by old classmates who live and raise families blocks from where they grew up and went to school, that this isn't true. Not everyone runs as fast and far as they can from that life. Lots stay.  Lots are happy there. And so you find yourself, like Hannah, completely incredulous at what goes on uncommented (to me the worst part of the 'benefit' wasn't the lacklustre dancing, but the anachronistic 'Keri I'm so very' song, reminding us that even though the Carrie in question is dead(?) she was once sexy. Nice.), but also risking being a complete asshole if you point these things out. What do you choose?

Maybe I liked Hannah more in this episode because she considered. She didn't flat-out screech that her blonde friend was an idiot for heading to L.A. with no plan or talent, as she would have in New York. She's frustrated that 'nobody is telling her', like nobody told Hannah how hard it was going to be to just declare herself 'the voice of a generation', but at the same time, what good will it do? She tried to be interested in pharmacist boy, but the fact that he's nice and polite and considerate doesn't make up for the fact that he's boring (and I don't just mean the sex, although did anyone else think he was going to, er, not go through with it?).   

So does this make Hannah a jerk, because she can't appreciate nice people, or a good person who's just being honest about what she wants and needs, even if it's not as easy to swallow as life in Michigan would be? She's considering this all the time.   Sure, she privately reminds herself that she's automatically interesting because of where she lives.  She screeches about how she doesn't have money and that writing is who she is, not what she does. But she also doesn't lecture about how much better life in the city is for her and could be for everyone she meets. Unlike some people I knew at 24. Ahem.
 
So okay. City Hannah is more palatable at home than in the city.   This really pressed the reset button for me on the series, because for the first time I felt I knew this exactly.  When you're trapped at home and someone calls from your real life, that is a LIFELINE, no matter how much of a dick that person has been to you, because they know who you are when you're in the life you chose.  The balance, of course, for the character and the show, is to remind us that you're much more insecure about your choice when you're surrounded by other people who chose the same thing and are doing it better or worse than you are.  Hannah was uncomfortable this episode, but pretty happy she'd chosen the life she had.  Show me that again when she's actually in New York, even if it's fleeting, and we might be in business.

Attached - Lena Dunham shooting in New York last week.

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