All The Ways To Feel Bad
Girls Season 2 Episode 9 recap
I should point out, before I get distracted with all the other things in this episode, that I am really enjoying some of the songs this season. Twitter linked to an interview with Michael Penn about some of the work he’s done for the show, and I have to say that from “One Man’s Trash” up to now, it’s been a steady stream of musical enjoyment. The scene where Adam and Natalia are dancing like mad in the club felt exactly like it was supposed to feel – because of the music. Loved it.
So here we are, almost at the end of season 2, and – what is there to say, really? Who has had a win recently? Nobody. Who likes themselves any better than they did a year ago? Nobody. Hannah’s had progress, it’s true – she’s graduated to that phase where, instead of knowing that her boss is a douche as you do when you first leave school, you suppress that knowledge for another two and a half years because you so desperately want what they’re dangling over your head.
Some people, though, seem to figure out earlier than most how to spend the so-called productive hours, and the fact that this person is Charlie has made everyone’s head spin. Is it because he wasn’t an ‘artist’ in the same way, all passions and dickishness? Is it because his calmness belied the fact that he actually had a prevailing interest in something that turned into a relatively enjoyable way to spend his days? The boiling resentment from Marnie and Ray over how Charlie has the audacity to be successful, but more gallingly, happy, is one of the truest post-university sentiments. You’re supposed to just be happy for them, but it’s so hard, because you thought you were the same, and how did they know how to break out of the misery?
Marnie in particular is dealing with Charlie in such a disgustingly tone-deaf way that it’s embarrassing to say the least. I’m not even talking about the melancholy version of ‘Stronger’ that she crooned (note the change to ‘white Kate Moss’ – like, you know she agonized over how to do that or whether she should change to a male celebrity or what), because that at least is just basic millennial narcissism. But with almost anyone else in his position, she would be deferent, almost obsequious in her recognition of the status of the ‘boss’ (Lord, that was gross when she waved to him).
But somehow Marnie has decided that Charlie’s success is to be patted on the head, that she can deal with it best if she just allows that it’s a neat thing he’s done that isn’t character defining, like winning the 200-metre sprint in sophomore year. What’s unfortunate about this, though, is that it’s only making her more pitiful in his eyes, which in turn is making her more attractive. Which is f*cked.
While this arc is starting to make people more and more fleshed out as characters, and more and more like real people, I take issue with the idea that sex is the way for men to show their disdain for women. All the other pathology with Adam aside, we’ve seen him cut Hannah down in ways that have nothing to do with sex, and I kind of wished we could see that side of him – making it out that his possessive and demeaning attitudes only come out during sex seems, to me, to be a bit lazy because I think Adam tries to degrade people he feels will hurt him in all kinds of ways, not just through sex. I suppose it could be chalked up to the ‘lesson’ that Natalia learned about not ignoring warning signs, but it's a sh*tty message and an awfully punish-the-victim way of communicating it.
As for Hannah – wow, she’s alone. Thank you, show, for showing how alone she is. How much you can get into your own head. How close she thought she was to ecstasy when she was going to town in her ear. I’ve never actually punctured my eardrum but boy, have I come close, I bet. I have an unhealthy addiction to Q-tips so yes, feel free to send me your horror stories.
But of course, this is what she has. She has a bloody Q-tip as a story instead of a group of close friends, and an encounter with an ex on the street where the word ‘kid’ as a reminder of former affection hurts way more than the phrase ‘my girlfriend’. These are the tools she’s going to need if she’s going to become a successful essayist-or-novelist-if-that’s-what-sells-the-damn-ebook so shouldn’t they feel like more comfort? Will they feel like more comfort when friend after friend smiles that they’re going to read her book soon, just as they are with Charlie now?
I still don’t like any of these people. They make it really hard. But they’re beginning to be recognizable, which is a step in a great direction, and I have to wonder how many of use were actually likeable at 25 anyway.