A voice. One.
Girls Season 2 Episode 10 recap
Years ago, still in school and just out of it, I fell in love for the first time. We spent almost every waking hour together, making the fact that he did not love me even more poignant - or more pointless, depending on your perspective. We were both romantics, though, and we both professed to really want to meet someone, and spent a lot of time talking about "someone you’d get up out of bed for, if they called at 3 AM".
Of course, this wasn’t a scenario either of us had been in, it was a what if. It was something that, when you spend time dreaming out loud about what love will be like, exemplifies what you think it will be. Running through the night because “when you want the rest of your life to start, you want it to start right away.”
Yeah, I did. I compared one of the most venerated romantic comedies to Girls, that bastion of all new television. And I feel good about it.
In fact, I feel fine about Girls when it was the way it was tonight – characters, approaching fully-formed (if only romance-focused), doing things that they feel they should, whether or not I agreed with them. I was with Ray when he was doing the thing that would move his life forward; I was with Charlie (incredibly) when he said he wanted to be with Marnie, even though I think he’s making a terrible mistake; hell, I was with Hannah when she sang, manically, “I’m going to write a whole book in a day…” because lord knows I’ve been there and felt that. I feel good about the show when it’s some people trying to make themselves happy, whether they make it or not. I just feel as though that’s only been two episodes out of 20 so far, both of which are the season finales.
But also, I feel way better about Girls when it ends on something that, if it isn’t happy, at least feels like the end of a chapter. I have some satisfaction instead of just endless frustration, and I can treat the show like it’s supposed to be a show, instead of the second coming, which is how it’s treated. Even as the fever pitch of Lena Dunham on every conceivable media outlet on every conceivable topic grows, the show manages not to be about how every neurosis she has is charming, and instead about how a bunch of characters are finding that life has bumps where romance is concerned - because let’s face it, the romance aspect is where we’ve spent most of our time this year – maybe because that’s what’s easiest for the widest audience to relate to, in the end. Maybe because the finale was cowritten by Apatow. Maybe because these girls are not that different from their TV predecessors, even though you’re not supposed to say that.
That’s fine. That’s no problem. It’s a show about people in their 20s trying to figure out their lives, whether or not they’re seeing the right people, and doing the right jobs.
….you know, like on Friends.
Yeah, I said it. I don’t expect to get away with it, exactly, but how is it different, really? “So no one told you life was gonna be this way” versus “Nobody’s here to care if I cut myself on glass.” You can make the argument that one’s more poignant, but um, it’s being told to a wacky neighbour, in this case a former junkie who lives downstairs. You’re trying to tell me this is revolutionary?
Maybe it would have been, if when Natalya told Adam “I can like your cock and not be a whore” it had amounted to something other than him thinking he couldn’t be with her anymore. Maybe if Marnie’s “worst year” had added up to something other than being rescued by a prince – a rich one, no less - with no indication of what she’s actually going to do with her life, this wouldn’t seem so much like a formulaic show that isn’t that different than those that have come before it.
The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with Girls when it’s just a show, occasionally saying some stuff. There’s everything wrong with it when it’s supposed to be the voice of its generation, doing and saying things that have "never been done before". I don’t buy it. I don’t – and saying that has meant that I’m supposed to say I don’t “get” the show, that it doesn’t speak to me, which in turn makes me unspeakably unhip. There’s been no option in the dialogue to say "while this show may be a thing, it is not a thing for me, and that’s a valid point of view". Anyone who disliked the show – even parts of it - was automatically dismissed as not being part of the dialogue, because you obviously couldn’t get it.
The thing is, I still think there’s interesting stuff to say about this show. I think the premise of Hannah’s book, about the intense friendships between women, is more interesting than anything we saw on the show this year. Wanting to be saved, or rescued, or have someone get up out of bed for you - when do we assume that person is a lover and not a friend? When does that change? (For me, this was actually something that was accomplished better in the first season. I believed these girls needed each other, until they didn’t. Sure, Marnie stopped in on Hannah – but not until after her life was all fixed because hey look, she has a man again!)
But Girls, which had some stuff to say and some parts where it lay back and relied upon old romantic tropes or gross-out humour, was crippled by the insistence that it was like nothing else that came before it. That’s why the people who are outraged now are outraged – because it promised it wasn’t going to be familiar…