Girls Season 1 Episode 9 recap
Oh Girls, why you gotta go do this? Why you gotta make a liar out of me in the good way and the bad way?
The show is unquestionably getting better. Nobody could argue that the more we get to know the girls, the realer they seem, and the less ridiculous their pursuits. I'm happy to be wrong about this show's development - really! - but I do notice that the show got immediately better once Dunham stopped directing and writing every episode solo. Not because I think she's a bad director or writer or any of those things, please slow your roll, But each - including, you know, starring - is an incredibly demanding job. It's kind of preposterous that one person could attempt to do three for any length of time. There's a reason they are separate gigs and it's okay to just be a regular superhero, not an over-the-top everything superhero who also does nine things perfectly.
So as there's more room and less pressure on Dunham, there's time to explore what makes the show good: random boyfriends running into apartments isn't the most original, but it's the kind of thing that should be done on this show because it does always continue to be true - and funny; tiny lines like “Bryce - which is a good name”; I can buy that these are who these people are. The stories are, in themselves, smaller. I kind of wish they'd saved “throwing the perfect abortion” until later in the series when they weren't trying to impress me as much. There might have been more time to get to know Jessa in a real way, and what this would mean to her.
Because the truth is that when we're not with Hannah, the show falters. That's good - it means Hannah really has become our eyes and ears into this world, and that I can enjoy her doing small things like being confused and irritated when Ray tells her she can't wear a white dress to work at the coffee shop (and don't we feel Ray and Adam look far too much alike?) and I'll apply a lot of mental time to exactly what she's trying to say with Hannah's nudity.
But when Hannah's not in a scene with the others, they fall flat. I don’t care about Jessa's employer's emotions because it wasn't Jessa having them. She sat there on the couch, allowing the woman to spill her guts to a 24 year old, and Jessa didn't really react. I can't deal with someone who is that unflappable. We've had nine episodes now, and we've never seen her truly interrupted in her going about her life. Nothing really stops her. It's really quite inhuman. And I mean, I can buy that nothing that we've seen so far is anything that would stop her, but then in the interests of development, show me something. She's not Barney Stinson; I need to find out a little more about her if I'm going to care.
Shoshanna, on the other, hand, I could totally watch going on a day date. I wanted to see what her prospect from the most expensive dating site was like. I'm not sure why Jessa's was the story we followed rather than Shoshanna but I will admit that both seem like straight comedy routines when Hannah's not nearby.
Hannah's adventures cut closer to the bone, of course. That book launch really made me cringe. The irony of being the person talking sh-t about the person being celebrated is that you feel terrible. There is no salvation in it. You immediately feel dirty, even if you know for a fact the success is undeserved. And let's be honest, how often is the success really that undeserved? Girls was trying to make a point, saying that the story just “flowed from”Tally but that's just a technique girls use to avoid admitting they sweat over anything. "Awful writer and human" - sure, sister. Keep telling yourself.
I liked much of the Hannah-reads-a-story plot because it's about her, because it’s the kind of thing she would obsess over, because at that age writing something entertaining, or dare I say “commercial” is a fate worse than death. She's constantly checking between what she's written that she knows, by gut, is good, and whether it passes muster with her cooler friends. At work here too is that idea that she should be able to have things “flow” out of her like Tally did, hence the writing on the subway. But there were a few things that were off about the story. I don't mind the doting professor, even the one who is maybe too tilted in her direction, but I didn't think he should have said Tally couldn't write. Nine times out of ten that professor is trying to get his own stuff published and this would have made him insecure and awkward.
I don't think Hannah should have apologized for not having worked hard enough on the piece. Maybe she's different as a result of four years studying creative writing, but in my experience there's always been a high premium on work done at the last minute, the adrenaline of the deadline a powerful motivator that brings out the best in people.
I wish we'd seen Hannah's reactions to the others in the room. I'm not Hannah, but if I arrived and heard Ms. Suzy Creamcheese reading up at the front there, and then was confronted with an audience a lot older and more mature than I'd thought, I would probably balk. Hannah might have worried on the spot that her story was too juvenile, and switched in the moment to her subway story.
But all this doesn't matter much, because Hannah's failure at the reading didn't matter much, and she got reassurance from her mentor that the original story was good, and it's all going to be okay, except that we go home and Marnie's tidying (I assumed) on a Sunday night. Lord, save me from the Sunday Night tidiers.
I had roommates like this and I periodically was this person. Whatever got out of joint in the previous week could be fixed! if everything just looked right and all the hangers hung in the same direction and stuff was clean well then everything felt OK. If for some reason there was something that had to lie on the floor then hellfire would come and I would stomp around, confounding my roommates who'd noticed I didn't care about the stuff on the floor for the fortnight previous. Now take this disease, apply in clockwise fashion to anyone with mild OCD tendencies, and wonder why girls get into arguments when they live together. It has so much less to do with hormones and so much to do with adopted neuroses.
I mean it. It's such a small thing but it's so right that this is where the argument happened - when Marnie is trying to make things organized and right, and Hannah just isn't. We've seen shades of it before - earlier, when Marnie in her knockoff-of-a-designer dress is getting ready for work and Hannah is slumped on the couch, and countless times before. But it really made the contrast nice. And the fact that Hannah continues to be so wounded while Marnie states some very obvious things - that she needs a night off from discussing Hannah's life - is where the difference is here. I don't think either of them is particularly more entitled than the other, though Marnie has a job and Hannah thinks she's an artist (my heart also did a little jump when Hannah accused Marnie of only caring about guys and what they have. It's not like we've seen her passionate about anything else, right?). But the difference is that Hannah is shocked that she would be called out on any of this. Marnie, on the other hand, knows this, so she falls back on her default: "I'm a nice girl". It's her only defence for being passive aggressive and snappy, and she's going to cling to it when she inevitably tells everyone about it.
The show is getting more and more right as the characters and actors develop. Lena Dunham is getting a chance to tell her stories, which I think are important (more on the nudity next week). So in view of next week, which looks to be solely written and directed by her, let's remember that not everyone has to be all the things all the time, and that we can still see her as the voice of the show even if she's not in all the behind-the-scenes chairs all at the same time.
Attached - Girls continues to shoot in NY this week.