Growing Pain

March 7, 2016 15:44:07 Posted at March 7, 2016 15:44:07
Duana Posted by Duana

Girls Season 5 Episode 2 and 3 recap

Let’s talk about how Girls is incorporating the realities of friends who correspond in a digital way much more naturally than almost any show on television. I don’t mean the bit about naked exes you keep in your phone, but about the natural way you FaceTime with whomever (I assume the Skype sounds were specifically for work-oriented calls from Aidy Bryant, who I am delighted with on this show).

I don’t mean Hannah’s plotline with Fran, which is actually something we’ve seen play out on many other shows through a Girls filter. But Hannah having conversations about it over FaceTime in the bathroom makes perfect sense to me and feels natural. It makes Marnie feel part of the story even though she just makes one appearance—and even though Shoshanna doesn’t talk to any of our main cast (something she points out is almost by design), she feels utterly connected, both to them and to poor Jason Ritter, who can’t catch a break.

I watched the Japan parts of the show with someone who lived there for three years, embracing it about as much as Shoshanna minus the pink hair. The impetus to stay is, from what I’m told, very, very strong—even if you haven’t been fired.  Once you finally acclimatize and, not for nothing, leave your past behind, who wants to go back home to what you were running from in the first place? Okay, this isn’t every North American ex-pat in Japan, but it’s enough of them.

The question is whether you’re missing anything at home, and to my mind, Shoshanna is missing the uncomfortable process of her friends growing maturity. Both last week and this week I’ve been struck by Jessa and Hannah being adult almost in spite of themselves, and how odd and yet right that feels for this show. We’d be furious if they decided not to change at all, yet it makes sense that nobody slips into being an adult seamlessly. After all, if they do, it looks like Marnie, who will obviously flame out in a spectacular way toward the end of the season.

But last week and this week, Hannah, while still utterly tone deaf about certain things, like inappropriate literature and whether Fran is uncomfortable with her Elijah-intimacy, is sort of reluctantly accepting of people’s particular foibles—her father’s, Fran’s—even her own. Sure, she deletes all the pictures of ex-girlfriends, but she doesn’t pitch a fit about it, after her initial surprise. There’s that expression, ‘do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?’ I’m floored that Hannah has chosen ‘happy’, especially since, unlike Charlie waaaay back at the beginning of the series, Fran appears to make Hannah happy, and not just stand in as a ‘nice guy’ for her to reject—at least not yet. I’m intrigued.

I’m similarly intrigued by Jessa, who has always been my least favourite character.  In fact, I’ve gone so far as to say that I’d prefer the show without her. And yet, the journeys she and Adam have gone down over the last year are more and more indicative of two people trying to figure out who they are as adults—particularly adults who are so different from their friends. While I think Jessa’s whole ‘we’re just friends’ thing is misplaced inasmuch as it applies to offending Hannah, I really, really like that she puts her money where her mouth is. She says “I’m not doing this”…and then she doesn’t. She leaves. That’s a move that takes a lot of people (me) a lot longer to figure out. Like, a lot longer. So whether that’s borne of her apparent new career as a therapist or just maturity she’s found in spite of herself, I’m impressed.

It’s also worth noting that the girls aren’t making these character-defining decisions together. They’re all alone, and so there’s nothing keeping Shoshanna from growing in the same way—except that in Japan, men and women still sit separately, giggling about sex from what amounts to a naked cafeteria. She’s not progressing not just because she’s avoiding her grown-up problems, but because the culture she’s in seems pretty determined to keep her giggling and wondering from afar rather than actually getting to know someone for real—even if she has kissed him while wearing a rubber outfit.

I also really smiled at Ray asking that they keep the noise to a ‘respectful’ level. As a reluctant grown-up all this time, has Ray softened into his own maturity? Have I, since I can’t remember the last time I felt so warmly amused by these people?

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