Small Moments of Pride
Girls Season 2 Episode 2 recap
It is understating the case by a lot to say I’ve never been a gusher about Girls, but I find it’s easiest for me to stomach if I think of it from a nostalgia point of view. Honestly. I’ve decided it’s The Wonder Years without the narration. Some of these things will be completely and totally embarrassing to Hannah (and to a lesser extent, her friends) in a few years’ time. Some, though, will be things that begin to form Hannah’s opinion of herself.
The show continues to make her not very self-aware, to make the choices Hannah makes, be they good ones or not, utterly un-self-conscious. She has similar levels of self-righteousness when she’s lying through her teeth to Donald Glover (I know, he probably does have a character name, but he’s so impossibly Troy Barnes) about whether it “matters” that he’s black as when she’s openly snobbing at Marnie about how she’s “honest” in her work and has chosen not to sexualize herself (oh my GOD, Hannah).
See, to me, both of these conversations, and the later one, both with and re: Adam, cops and all, will be part of the cringe file. But I wish I could stop thinking that this show is just about a list of mistakes and that we’ll never see Hannah change as a result of them. Like, at what point are we going to see that she gets the book deal called “Things I Shouldn’t Have Said In My 20s?” If it’s not until the last episode, aren’t people going to get bored before then?
That’s not to say that the characters aren’t different, because they are. Almost too starkly, but still. Hannah is testing out what it feels like to be powerful. Yes, she can break up with one man because she has expectations about what he should say about her essay, and then have another screaming from the street and walking into her apartment. This passes for romance at this age, and even though Adam tries to turn the tables on her, Hannah’s not wrong; she may have turned up at his door months ago, but he’s the one at her door now. It’s a different story and she’s enjoying it.
It struck me as odd, too, that Marnie and Elijah are so incredibly worried about Hannah finding out about them. It’s not because she’s “so fragile” exactly, it’s because they’re embarrassed, and the new Hannah doesn’t hold back with opinions on how she thinks people should behave, or what’s wrong with people when they don’t adhere to what she thinks. They’re not scared that she’ll be hurt. They’re scared that she’ll be mad. That’s because Hannah begins to have opinions. That’s because she’s beginning to know her own voice a little bit – even if it isn’t a voice of her generation.
In fact, the only tolerable thing in the otherwise insufferable Jessa sequence (I am very, very happy that we’re seeing less of her, even if I think it can’t last) was Hannah’s face when Jessa told her she overreacts to things. On the surface, she took it in, like sure I do, but something in her face was like “no, wait a minute”. I appreciate that this is going to be one of those moments that she remembers for a long time, marking the place when she realized she was going to stop doubting herself and call her friend’s weird, icky marriage for what it was. (Incidentally, I know that guy – that husband who is so! happy! to see you, but also doesn’t know anything about you or how to have a conversation with you. Girls makes me crazy, but it’s not like some of those observations aren’t sometimes so scary it hurts.)
Likewise, the utter “liberty” of Shoshanna and Ray – both of whom I sometimes wish I could boot over to another, more lighthearted series – having languid conversations with roommates while in the refractory period (that’s maybe borrowed from university rather than post; then again, Shoshanna’s relatively late blooming makes it totally apropos), that screaming, shouting LOOK HOW COMFORTABLE I AM IN MY SEXUALITY motion, all of that is another really nice observation.
The show still drives me crazy, not least because there’s no real plot. For a show with no hugging and no learning, as per Seinfeld, there’s got to be a hell of a lot of plot. But they do seem to be becoming mildly more honest about some of the other characters, if not about Hannah. When she starts to see – or more willfully ignore – herself, flaws included, then we’ll really be getting somewhere. Maybe.
Attached - Lena Dunham with Jon Stewart last week.