Adam Wasn’t Even in the First Act
Theo Wargo/ NBC/ Getty
Girls Season 3 Episode 12 recap
Oh my God, Ray used the term “assignations”. On purpose and casually. I am in love.
A few – really a bunch –of years ago, the popular term to describe your character-driven, often female-oriented show, was “dramedy”. Then, as the rise of the male anti-hero…rose, the idea of shows that were less than fantastic in scope fell out of fashion and the word dramedy, especially, became a dirty word.
This is what it is. The term is back. There are going to be a bunch of copycat shows in five minutes, and I shudder to think of what they’re going to do in imitation of this, but as I’ve been saying with giant mouthfuls of crow for the last few weeks, this show is just nailing it. On a roll that I am scared to see end. I don’t know what happened during season 3 in the writer’s room. I don’t know if they thought they might be cancelled. I bought it all.
I mean, they even figured out something to do with goddamn Jessa!
Okay I think Beedie came in too late in the season, that there was a misdirect about whom she was going to be important for that could have been explored, and that I keep thinking of The Hunger Games when I hear her name. But I liked that it was something Jessa could actually do: look death in the face, accept without judgment that someone wanted to end their time on earth (god, could you imagine if Marnie was there instead?) and then not freak out when the woman changes her damn mind and wants another chance at life?
Life. It’s clearly got Lena thinking deeply. Obviously starting with Caroline and Laird and the terrifying fact that she’s growing labia inside her set the tone for the episode, but I actually thought the part where she called her parents before anyone was the biggest sign of how the show has evolved. Those two middle-aged sexually active adults love her so much, and she does them, and there was just so much affection. I was beyond impressed. She’s a whole person.
And when she does the maybe-unwise but completely understandable thing, and goes to tell Adam her good news so that she can restore the balance between them, and a little of her joy is, for the first time in months, completely self-generated and not about who reacted to something she tweeted or joy for Adam or a bon mot that went over big at the office, well, in that moment she grows kind of a lot. I was happy for her. Hannah didn’t make me cringe.
I suppose the actual thing that should have happened is that they should have had repercussions for last week, for Hannah storming into Ray’s room and acting like kind of an asshole – but the fact is that, as in an interview I read with Allison Williams this week, Marnie is the villain of this piece, and so she got all the cringey gross villain things to do.
It’s kind of amazing, actually. She’s a villain just being her terrible self, and the worst thing that she said to Shoshanna isn’t even the thing that got her jumped on. The highwater mark of the season for me was probably Ray telling Marnie that she’s a big fat f*cking phony, but the moment in which she told Shoshanna that she failed a class but intentionally was so amazingly neggy that I feel like dudebros should study it.
She’s not any less horrible when she’s called on it, but she is less confrontational. She’s amazing in a vulturey kind of way as she waits and watches to see if she’s going to get what she wants, which it turns out she is, probably – Clementine doesn’t look like she was long for this world. I was kind of amazed that she left the Ray part of the Ray equation alone; I know he’s the physical embodiment of Marnie’s lowered expectations, and that she wasn’t feeling down on herself tonight, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility for her to do so.
But Ray’s involvement tonight was mainly with Shoshanna, and it was both the hardest to watch and the least excellent. Which is a problem, because Zosia Mamet is excellent. But even though I loved watching her lose her mind, and even though begging Ray to take her back was a long time coming, it felt kind of hollow because we haven’t really seen her since the Hamptons. And even then. The consequences of not graduating are what? The fact that she’s frustrated with her friends because she doesn’t have any others, maybe, but since we so rarely see her with Hannah and Marnie and etc – I mean she’s there, but not there – what does it matter? The show has used Elijah to great effect, but having him and Ray in more significant roles has meant the death of stories for Shosh, joining Jessa in the land of characters who are now just a bunch of quirks, rather than real people like Hannah and Marnie and the men who surround them. I feel like I know more about Elijah at this point. I definitely spent more time with Hannah’s coworkers at the magazine than with a supposed lead on the show.
Still, there are many, many places to go next season. Adam has chosen himself over the relationship but I don’t believe he’ll hold it against his “kid”; Hannah has had a terrible night and yet still can’t contain herself. I never thought these two should be such a focus of the show and from a purely storytelling point of view they should break up immediately because that’s interesting – but they have a strange great dynamic that is sort of chemistry and alchemy, and so there will probably be a way to save it.
Most importantly, Hannah is getting more and more reasonable and easy to understand, and that’s going to be the show’s next big issue. Can she stay unlikeable, and if she can, is it increasingly ridiculous as she tips onto the far side of her 20s? (If you email me about this piece, please don’t tell me how old you feel now that you and your friends have been out of school for coming up on two years.) Adam’s collection of issues is going to be less and less cute, albeit fodder for material, the older Hannah gets and the more experiences she has. The smile at the end of the episode is great for her because she knows how happy she is – but it’s maybe bad for her relationship if she realizes she made herself happy by herself – and kind of out of a desperate kind of spite.
This season has been delicious because it’s been so unexpected, quality wise. Who knew? What a pleasure. Even its wrong steps are trying something, as opposed to the baiting for baiting’s sake of years past. It may not be the voice of its generation, but it’s telling real stories that resonate, which is no small feat.
Attached - Lena Dunham on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week.